John Hennigan, Mori Eskandani Newest Members Of Poker Hall Of Fame

Bart Shirley July 13, 2018 316 Reads
John Hennigan

A panel of Hall of Famers and media members have selected poker player John Hennigan and television executive Mori Eskandani as the 2018 inductees into the Poker Hall of Fame. The WSOP announced the selections as the final table of the WSOP Main Event got underway on July 12.

Hennigan is an underrated all-time great

John Hennigan enters the Hall of Fame in his first year as a finalist. Several notable professionals, including Daniel Negreanu, have called Hennigan the toughest opponent they have ever faced.

Hennigan’s nickname is “World,” purportedly because of his willingness to bet on virtually anything in the world. Prior to poker, he was a professional pool player.

Since picking up poker, he has earned over $8.1 million in tournament winnings alone. He holds five World Series of Poker bracelets and a World Poker Tour championship.

Hennigan remains a top professional today. In fact, he is likely to be the 2018 WSOP Player of the Year after making six final tables at this year’s series.

Those final tables include a win in the $10,000 HORSE event and a second-place finish in the $50,000 Poker Players Championship. Of all this year’s finalists, Johnny World was perhaps the most deserving.

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Eskandani brought poker into your home

Mori Eskandani is the man largely responsible for bringing poker into your home. He is responsible for virtually every major poker program on television.

Eskandani is the creator of Poker After Dark, High Stakes Poker, The National Heads-up Championship, and several other game-based shows. He is now the producer for ESPN’s coverage of the World Series of Poker.

Eskandani began production company Poker Productions in 2003. Though he did not invent the hole-card camera, his use of it quickly became the standard in televised poker.

In fact, it is likely that his use of the hole-card camera had an equally profound effect on poker’s popularity as Chris Moneymaker‘s 2003 WSOP Main Event win. When viewers could “play” alongside the players, poker truly became a spectator sport, and it became possible to provide on-the-spot expert analysis of play, similar to other athletic events.

Eskandani’s affinity for poker stretches back decades. In fact, he was well-known as a high-stakes player in the 1980s.

However, his greatest impact has been away from the table. Nevertheless, he is clearly a deserving member of the Poker Hall of Fame.

A look ahead to the 2019 class

The 2018 Hall of Fame class arose from a ten-person list of finalists. Those eight men who were not chosen are eligible for consideration next year.

They are:

  • Chris Bjorin
  • David Chiu
  • Bruno Fitoussi
  • Mike Matusow
  • Chris Moneymaker
  • David Oppenheim
  • Matt Savage
  • Huckleberry Seed

According to the Hall of Fame criteria, inductees must be over the age of 40 and have made a lasting impact on poker, either at or away from the table. With that in mind, here are some people who might be nominated or will become eligible.

  • Josh Arieh (age 43)
  • Mike Caro
  • John Cernuto
  • Allen Cunningham (age 41)
  • Antonio Esfandiari (age 39)
  • Ted Forrest
  • Gus Hansen
  • Phil Laak
  • Mason Malmuth
  • Greg Raymer
  • Barry Shulman
  • David Sklansky
  • Vince van Patten

The 2019 class will likely be a well-known group of players and poker professionals. Stay tuned.

Lead image courtesy of World Poker Tour/Flickr