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A bit of controversy is brewing over whether or not PokerStars founder Isai Scheinberg is a worthy candidate for induction into the Poker Hall of Fame.

Nominations are being accepted online until August 15, at which time the Poker Hall of Fame Governing Council will review the submissions and determine 10 nominees that will be up for possible enshrinement in 2015. Existing HOF members and a select media panel will then vote for one or two candidates who will be feted at an induction ceremony in conjunction with the final table of the WSOP Main Event in November.

Scheinberg, as most are aware, founded PokerStars in 2001 and built it into the online poker giant that it is today. The poker room stands well above the rest of the pack in terms of loyal players, and is responsible for much of the game’s popularity that began booming in the early to mid-2000s.

Campaign for Induction

A push for Scheinberg as an HOF candidate is underway, led by MMA fighter and poker pro Terrence Chan. The martial arts expert has been joined by a number of players who sounded off on the issue after Chan tweeted his support and began a thread at 2 + 2 entitled “Campaign for Isai Scheinberg for the Poker HOF.”

“In my opinion, if the man who has done more to grow poker than any other individual in the world in the past 20 years (at least) is not in the Poker HOF, it is illegitimate,” Chan stated.

The legitimacy of the HOF has been called into question in the past. Its members are sorely lacking in representation from players who are not American or Canadian, and enshrined players are typically those who have excelled in WSOP events. That is not by mistake, as Caesars owns and operates the HOF in tandem with the WSOP.

Black Friday Lingers

The reason why Scheinberg’s nomination is questionable is well-known. He came under indictment during the Black Friday fiasco and has yet to answer the charges. He has since sold his stake in PokerStars, but will forever be a huge part of poker history, affecting the lives of many during his reign and beyond.

“PokerStars expanded into, and created, brand new markets where there were very few poker players,” Chan added. “We have all benefited from the company that this man built. Some made careers out of the poker industry in various ways. But millions of others simply found a way to play a game they found enjoyable.”

Scheinberg certainly meets the criteria for enshrinement, having “contributed to the overall growth and success of the game of poker, with indelible positive and lasting results.” His influence has been astronomical in that regard.

But the cloud of Black Friday and Scheinberg’s status as a fugitive, coupled with WSOP cronyism, do not bode well for the PokerStars’ founder’s chances. At least not in 2015, and especially with PokerStars yet to be allowed back into the U.S.

Scheinberg deserves his rightful place in the HOF. But it likely won’t happen for a good many years, if at all.

Charles Rettmuller

Charles has been an avid poker player for a number of years, both live and online. He holds a degree in journalism and previously worked as a reporter for a Chicago-based newspaper. Charles joined the PokerUpdate team in early 2012 and writes daily news articles for the site.

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