Three first-time finalists
The Poker Hall of Fame has published the list of the ten finalists for the Class of 2021. The eight players and two “contributors” emerged from a two-week public nomination process.
The elite poker luminaries are, in alphabetical order, Eli Elezra, Antonio Esfandiari, Chris Ferguson, Layne Flack, Ted Forrest, Bertrand “ElkY” Grospelier, Mike Matusow, Michael Mizrachi, Matt Savage, and Isai Scheinberg. Of those, Flack, Grospelier, and Mizrachi are making their debut appearances on the finalist list.
The person selected for the Hall will be revealed next month. The enshrinement ceremony will take place on November 17 at the Rio Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas in conjunction with the World Series of Poker Main Event final table. Also that day is the $1,979 No-Limit Hold’em Hall of Fame Bounty event in which every participating Hall of Fame member will have a bounty on their head, the dollar amount corresponding to the year in which they were inducted.
The finalists were chosen during a two-week public nomination process. Anyone could nominate anybody, provided they met the following criteria:
• A player must have played poker against acknowledged top competition
• Be a minimum of 40-years-old at time of nomination
• Played for high stakes
• Played consistently well, gaining the respect of peers
• Stood the test of time
• Or, for non-players, contributed to the overall growth and success of the game of poker, with indelible positive and lasting results.
the 32 living Poker Hall of Fame members decide who joins them in the Hall
The top vote-getters made the finalists list we have today. From here, the 32 living Poker Hall of Fame members decide who joins them in the Hall. Each voter has ten points they can distribute amongst the finalists in whatever manner they please. They can all go to one player or be spread around.
Just a single finalist will be elected to the Hall of Fame. Traditionally, the Hall has welcomed one or two members, but it looks like it will just be one each year from now on. Last year was the first time since 2004 that just one person was elected.
An argument could be made for every person on the finalist list to become the newest member of the Hall. It will be interesting to see how the Hall of Famers vote, considering they themselves have achieved the honor. Public sentiment seems to be on the side of one of the two non-players, Matt Savage, the World Poker Tour’s executive tournament director. Not only is he probably the best tournament director of all time, but he has also taken the lead in shaping many of the tournament rules of the modern game.
Non-players tend to be at a disadvantage, however, as the Hall of Fame members are almost all players themselves and may prefer to vote for a friend or at least a fellow competitor who has put in decades of play.
There could also be strategic voting. Voters might choose to stack points for one of their favorites that they think might need a little extra boost to get over the top or avoid voting for one of the younger nominees because they feel that person will have plenty more chances.