Linda Johnson is one of only three women to be inducted into both the Women in Poker Hall of Fame and the Professional Poker Hall of Fame. Fan nominations are currently underway and later this year the 2016 class of the WIPHOF will be selected.
Recently, I spoke with Linda about the WIPHOF, receiving her own induction and which women she believes should go in. She was the one of the first four women inducted into the WIPHOF and she gives an insightful take on her nomination and what the WIPHOF means to poker.
This is an induction year for the WIPHOF. Who are some women that you feel are worthy of nomination and/or even induction this year? Are there any that you felt have been overlooked in past years?
There are lots of women who are worthy of nomination and induction into the WIPHOF including names like Lupe Soto, Karina Jett, Donna Blevins, Lucy Rokach, Jennifer Tilly, and Nani Dollison, I don’t think it’s a matter of them being overlooked, it’s more a matter of only being able to induct so many women each year.
Another problem is that some women who should be in the WIPHOF don’t meet the age criteria. Good examples of this are Maria Ho and Vanessa Selbst. I think they will definitely get in once they turn 35. Others like Kara Scott and Jackie Glazier will probably get in once they have met the requirement to be in the poker industry for 10 years.
Let’s travel back to 2008. You were one of four women inducted that inaugural year. What was it like to be inducted into the WIPHOF and did you envision it continuing like it has?
Being inducted into ANY Hall of Fame is an honor. I was thrilled to hear that the WIPHOF was coming to fruition and even more honored to be an inaugural inductee. I definitely thought it would continue for years and years because there is a need to recognize the many women who contribute heavily to our poker industry.
You were also inducted into the Pro Poker Hall of Fame in 2011. At the time, you were just the second woman in history to receive that honor. How did that induction compare to your 2008 induction and which do you prize more?
The actual induction ceremonies were completely different. The 2008 WIPHOF induction ceremony was an historical event because it was the first year it was created. The ceremony itself felt very elegant complete with a formal luncheon, roses, trophy, etc. The induction ceremony into the Poker Hall of Fame in 2011 was held in the Penn and Teller theater just prior to the start of the main event final table. The audio equipment malfunctioned and it was difficult to hear the speeches, plus there was a rush to finish so they could start the “shuffle up and deal” process.
I’m glad that the WSOP has changed the process and now has an honorary dinner for the inductees. They deserve the respect. I don’t know the answer to “which one I prize more” because it is like asking do I prefer open events or ladies-only events. They are different and I am so happy to be a member of each because it is obviously an incredible feeling to be recognized by your peers. I do think that having women voted into the Poker Hall of Fame sends a great message that women are welcome as part of the poker industry.
Some might argue that the WIPHOF is just as important, if not maybe more so than the standard HOF because it recognizes players and contributors that the general poker populace may have never heard about. What is your opinion on this?
I think there is a flaw with both Halls of Fame because players from years ago who made great contributions to poker aren’t known well enough by today’s players. I think each Hall of Fame should have a lifetime achievement award category.
You’re one of three women in both the WIPHOF and the Pro Poker Hall of Fame. Who are other players or even contributors do you think that should also be in the Pro Poker Hall of Fame.
Betty Carey was a pioneer for women in poker, as was Barbara Freer. Nani Dollison has won three WSOP bracelets. The problem is as I mentioned before that most of today’s poker players have never heard of these women.
If you had just one person to induct into the WIPHOF this year, which would it be?
It’s tough to narrow it down but I think Lupe Soto would be my pick. She has done a lot for women in poker by founding LIPS, the first major organization for women poker players. She has done a lot to promote women in poker and to promote poker charity events.
Finally, what is your opinion on the success or failure of tours in recent years in terms of making poker more accessible to women? Do you feel that the tours are doing enough? If not, what more could they do to expand the ranks of women in poker?
It is difficult to start a new tour of any kind; obviously some will fail and some will succeed. Even the tours that have failed have helped to put the spotlight on women in poker. I would like to see more poker education as part of the tours…successful women teaching other women to become better players.
I am honored to be a host of the LIPS (Ladies International Poker Series) tour and I enjoy traveling to cardrooms, meeting other female poker players, and hosting seminars for them. Another thing I would like to see is lower buy-in tournaments for women and more satellites to enable them to win seats into major poker events.