Below you’ll find five players, seven contributors, and five trailblazers that should be in the Poker Hall of Fame.
Five players that really belong in the Hall of Fame
In no particular order.
I don’t care about the stats. I’m also not interested in debating if Chris Moneymaker was just in the right place at the right time, or if there was something special about him (beyond the name) that poured fuel onto the poker boom fire.
Moneymaker is the face namesake of poker’s most prodigious era and deserves a place in the Poker Hall of Fame. The number of people attracted to poker because of his WSOP win, and subsequent work as an ambassador is incalculable. In fact, it’s the latter category that I think makes him HoF worthy.
Here’s a deeper dive into my thoughts on Moneymaker’s Hall of Fame worthiness from last year.
John Hennigan is a widely respected poker player whose survived in the rough and tumble poker world for three decades. Hennigan is at ease playing all poker games and has success in cash games and tournaments. His resume includes four WSOP bracelets and a WPT title.
Kathy Liebert didn’t just compete with the boys, she routinely beat them. However, other than the 2002 Party Poker Cruise tournament, where she became the first female poker player to win $1 million in a tournament, she lacks a signature win.
Ken “Skyhawk” Flaton is one of my personal favorites. Like Hennigan, Flaton excelled at multiple poker disciplines and was equally at home in tournaments or cash games.
Flaton played in an era when tournament prize pools rarely cracked $100,000, so his $2 million in earnings is more impressive than it looks on the surface. Flaton is considered one of the better Stud players and won over 20 tournaments in his career.
Danny Robison was one of the original Vegas crushers. Robison and Chip Reese (the Gold Dust Twins) came to Vegas in the early 1970’s and turned their $800 of seed money into millions. The longtime friends would take turns running over Stud players in Sin City. After kicking a bad drug addiction, Robison would move on to Southern California card rooms, where he continued to play high stakes Stud games.
Three contributors that also belong in the Hall of Fame
Again, in no particular order.
Isai Scheinberg is the founder of PokerStars, and for the people that were products of the poker boom, his inability to crack the Poker Hall of Fame finalist list is a travesty.
It would take two columns to outline PokerStars contributions to the poker world, so I’ll just give you a link to Scheinberg’s Internet Pokers Wall of Fame entry on 2+2.
There probably isn’t much of a poker media without the contributions of Andy Glazer.
Glazer’s tournament reporting and columns brought an extra dimension to the game of poker; a human quality the game had been missing.
Sadly, Glazer never got to see poker fully explode, as he succumbed to his own personal demons in July 2004, just as the poker boom began to take hold.
The Mad Genius has been around for a long time. Mike Caro was a player (strong enough draw poker player to write the section in Doyle Brunson’s Super System), a theorist, and later a prodigious author.
At the beginning of the poker boom, Caro was everywhere and became one of the biggest names in poker in the 1990’s and early 2000’s. He was integral in the use of computers to solve poker, and was one of the first people in poker to embrace the internet and the idea of online poker.
A few more contributors to consider
Love him or hate him, Mason Malmuth has left an indelible mark on the poker world, as a publisher, an author, and the founder and owner of the TwoplusTwo poker forum.
The mastermind behind the Bicycle Casino, George Hardie was a Poker Hall of Fame finalist in 2012 but hasn’t made the cut since.
The “Godfather of California Poker,” Primm was instrumental in bringing legal poker to the Golden State. Primm turned the sleepy town of Gardena into one of the poker capitals of the world.
Terry Rogers was also a godfather, the “Godfather of Poker in Ireland.” Rogers ran poker games out if his The Eccentric Club and founded the Irish Poker Open in 1980.
Going back to the early days of poker
There are also (at least) five trailblazers who deserve to be the Poker Hall of Fame.
Along with Wild Bill Hickok, Doc Holliday was one of the game’s most well-known practitioners. Unlike Hickok, Holliday was actually a good poker player.
A longtime professional gambler and partner of Canada Bill Jones, George Devol is the author of the 19th-century book Forty Years A Gambler On The Mississippi. Devol’s autobiography was the first real look into the mind of a professional gambler.
Richard B.S. “Dick” Clark
Dick Clark (not this one) was widely believed to be the best poker player of his generation and was one of the first stakers and coaches in the business. Clark routinely kept other professional gamblers in action and took many under his wing.
Alice “Poker Alice” Ivers
The original First Lady of Poker, Alice Ivers took to the poker tables after her husband passed away. This was no easy feat at the time, as Alice had to find games that would even allow women to play.
One of the most famous gamblers of all-time, Titanic Thompson was the basis for Damon Runyan’s (an acquaintance of Thompson in New York City) Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls.