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The 2015 class of the Professional Poker Hall of Fame was announced on Monday. Jennifer Harman and John Juanda are the newest members of the Hall of Fame, topping a list of finalists that included Chris Bjorin, Carlos Mortensen, Matt Savage and the late David “DevilFish” Ulliott.

For the first time in years, both inductees were enshrined based on their accomplishments on felt. Today, I give my thoughts on the voting and what we which players I believe will be enshrined in 2016.

Hall of Fame Committee Voted for the Best Candidate

This is one of the only times that I’ve felt that the HOF committee got the vote exactly right. It’s no secret that I’ve been a very vocal supporter of Jennifer Harman for the Hall of Fame for years and I’ve also felt that other, less deserving candidates have been enshrined ahead of her.

Don’t misunderstand my words. I am not saying that those that have been inducted ahead of her did not deserve to be in the Hall of Fame but I am an advocate of putting in players first and then “contributors” at a later point.

The last few years, the HOF committee has been inducting one player and one player or player-contributor. Based on the pattern of recent years, I assumed this announcement was going to be John Juanda and Matt Savage despite my feeling that Savage didn’t deserve to leapfrog over half of those on the finalist list.

I’m happy to see that the committee felt the same way as I in this year’s voting. I applaud everything that Matt Savage has done for the industry and even feel he deserves to be in the HOF as a contributor as some point, but not if it means delaying a more deserving candidate.

Just the Stats, Not the Feels

David “DevilFish” Ulliott received a ton of support for the Hall of Fame this year due to his recent passing. Thankfully the committee went by career stats and overall impact on the game rather than succumb to the sympathy vote.

However, this should not surprise me as this is not the first time that the committee has looked past their emotions to select the best candidate for the Hall. Back in 2012, Thor Hansen received a ton of support for the Hall of Fame because of his battle with cancer. Last year, Bob Hooks was placed on the ballot. Neither received the necessary votes for induction.

Players and contributors both should be considered based on their career stats or contributions to the game and not inducted because we feel that it is a “nice gesture.” I applaud the committee for remembering this when they voted this year.

The Best of Who Didn’t Make It

Looking at the list of the players that did not make it into the Hall this year and the three that stand out the most to me are Carlos Mortensen, Bruno Fitoussi and Chris Bjorin. Mortensen easily has the best pedigree out of those that weren’t inducted in 2015 but I believe he will have to wait at least two years to get in because Phil Ivey will be inducted in 2016.

Chris Bjorin has been on the finalist list several times in recent years but his low-profile nature I believe will keep him out of the Hall unless the format used to induct members is changed. Bruno Fitoussi is a perfect example of what I call a player-contributor and one has to wonder why he isn’t in the Hall yet. My belief is that he gets in by 2018.

Ivey and Moneymaker are Coming

With the Poker Hall of Fame having announced this year’s inductees, we can look forward to 2016. Phil Ivey will finally be eligible for induction unless they can come up with another rule to keep him out. Yes, I am still a bit bitter over the Chip Reese rule. But that is finally ancient history and Ivey should sleepwalk his way into induction in 2016.

Another player, or rather player-contributor, that will be eligible for induction in 2016 is Chris Moneymaker. We all know what he did in 2003 and the impact it had on the poker world. In fact, would we even care about the Poker Hall of Fame right now if not for the aftershocks of the Poker Boom? There’s a good chance next year’s inductions will be Ivey and Moneymaker, making any further discussion on the Hall of Fame almost moot until 2017.




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James Guill

James Guill began his poker career in 2006, spending two years traveling the US tournament circuit. Since 2008, he has covered the game extensively for some of the biggest names in the industry. When not writing about the latest poker news, he can be found hunting for antique treasures in Central Virginia.