Poker has been taking some hits of late, mostly in the online poker arena but also due to a tough global economy and a lack of television programming to draw new players. Even so, there remains a loyal poker community that spans the world, one that values the history of the game and remains dedicated to playing it with a passion that may waver but never dies.
For all of those fans, as well as for anyone who has ever played poker at a kitchen table or walked by a poker room at a casino, there should be a place that is dedicated to the game. A place that reveals the game’s history, highlights its numerous pioneering and famous players, and gives fans a place to take it all in.
That place must be a land-based building that houses a true and all-encompassing Poker Hall of Fame.
Isn’t there a Poker Hall of Fame Already?
Technically, there is. The original Poker Hall of Fame was created by Benny Binion in the late 1970s and housed on the walls of his Horseshoe Casino in Las Vegas. Players earned their way to honors by a system that was sometimes subjective and changed over the course of many years. There are still some plaques and photos on the wall of Binion’s in Downtown Las Vegas, but it is not promoted in any way.
Harrah’s Entertainment, which is now Caesars Entertainment, bought the rights to the Poker Hall of Fame along with the World Series of Poker in 2004. The casino conglomerate continued the tradition of inducting new names into the Hall of Fame each year, as more than 50 players and poker contributors are now included on the list. And a list is what it is, a virtual directory of names that doesn’t even offer an online list of accomplishments, written biographical summary, or any information other than the players’ WSOP results.
The World Poker Tour attempted to begin a World Poker Tour Walk of Fame in 2004, with an actual physical location at the Commerce Casino in Los Angeles. But after that initial year of honoring three people, the Walk of Fame went silent.
A Real Hall of Fame must be All-Encompassing
No single company affiliated with a poker brand would be able to build the Poker Hall of Fame, as branding seems to lead to exclusions, as has happened with the WSOP. Brands could advertise, purchase memorial sections, or help sustain the endeavor with contributions, but the overall concept must remain brand-free.
There must be a museum-like component of the Poker Hall of Fame that showcases photos and memorabilia from the centuries of the game, allowing visitors to walk through the exhibit and read about the early beginnings of gaming all the way through the various forms of modern poker. It must be an educational and entertaining place to be.
Various poker companies could then sponsor rooms or find a way to showcase their brands and honorees through the years. For example, the WSOP Poker Hall of Fame should have a sizeable display of its inductees and awards through the years. The Women in Poker Hall of Fame should be included as well. The WPT should be able to highlight its many winners and recipients of the Player of the Year honorees. Other poker tours should be able to do the same, as should companies like CardPlayer and others who have long been a part of the poker community and bestowed Player of the Year honors on many players. And of course, the latest to begin honoring players – the Global Poker Index – should have a place to showcase its award winners, as well.
Las Vegas would be the ideal location for such a structure, somewhere with easy access for tourists and close to the many casino and gambling attractions in the world’s dominant gambling city. Events can be hosted there, such as awards ceremonies, charity tournaments, poker training sessions, and other poker-centric activities.
At a time when poker is fragmented, missing the days of the boom, and wondering about its future, the Poker Hall of Fame could bring it all together.