On the evening of November 6, a group of executives and players in the poker community gathered at Binion’s Gambling Hall in downtown Las Vegas for the WSOP Hall of Fame dinner and ceremony. The purpose was to induct as well as to honor WSOP 2015 Player of the Year Mike Gorodinsky.
WSOP representatives like Ty Stewart and Nolan Dalla were joined by poker players and fans. Last year’s inductees – Jack McClelland and Daniel Negreanu – were in attendance as well. And of the 2015 November Nine final table players, three came to the ceremony: Pierre Neuville, Neil Blumenfield, and Federico Butteroni.
There was a buffet for everyone in attendance, as well as an open bar, and many took the time to mingle throughout the short evening.
When Dalla took up the microphone on the stage, he discussed the prestige of the event, the importance of hosting the event at Binion’s, and his honor to welcome everyone.
He then turned the stage over to Eric Danis of the Global Poker Index, who flew in from GPI headquarters in Malta to present the Player of the Year trophy to Gorodinsky. Danis listed the accomplishments of Gorodinsky throughout the summer, including his victory in the $50K Poker Player’s Championship, plus his sweat to maintain the POY lead as the WSOP Europe played out. Gorodinsky then graciously accepted his award with a few words to the audience.
Dalla returned to the microphone to introduce Daniel Negreanu, who was there to speak for John Juanda and introduce Jennifer Harman. Negreanu talked about Juanda’s many accomplishments through the years in poker, and he read a short statement from Juanda, who did not attend. He was with his young son in Japan and did not travel to Las Vegas to accept the award in person. His statement noted his love of the game, including the many people he has met and places to which he traveled, as well as his role models Dan Harrington and Erik Seidel. “It’s nice to be recognized and respected by your peers,” he wrote.
Negreanu then introduced Harman, with whom he has been close friends since his entry into the poker world. He talked about how she always seemed to fit in to the at-first intimidating game environment, and he joked about how she was there for him when he needed advice or bankroll assistance. He spoke of his longtime friend with much affection and pride.
Harman was humble about accepting the award, but her greatest joy of the evening seemed to derive from the presence of her twin sons. They were less than 12 hours away from their ninth birthday, but the only thing on their minds seemed to be showing and telling how much they loved their mother. Between an on-stage congratulatory moment to a constant barrage of hugs for Harman throughout the night, the boys were a definite highlight for Harman and everyone who watched them.
Her acceptance speech was very personal, as she had no prepared remarks. She talked about her history with the game and her love of it, and how much she always felt “at home” at the tables. She dedicated the award to her mother with some emotional words. She also addressed the topic of women in poker, saying that she always felt accepted but is glad that her presence also blazed a trail for others. As others like Vanessa Selbst and Liv Boeree have expressed their gratitude to her in recent years, Harman is happy to have inspired more women to play and hopes that the numbers will continue to grow.
Finally, Harman talked with love about her sons, mentioning that they are the most important people in her life, and she only hopes to be the best mother to them.
The night officially ended, and most attendees exited rather quickly, though a few people stayed to chat with Harman and the November Nine players.