The World Series of Poker released the list of ten finalists for the Poker Hall of Fame on Friday. We’ve already reviewed the list and shared our opinion that Chris Moneymaker and Carlos Mortensen will be this year’s inductees.
Since the release of the list, no only has there been debate over who will be inducted, but we’ve also seen discussion on those players who were snubbed. There are multiple players with a pedigree worthy of induction but certain factors result in their being overlooked year after year.
Today we take a quick look at seven snubbed players that should be in the Poker Hall of Fame.
Mike Matusow was notably absent from this year’s list. He hasn’t appeared in the last couple of years and some will argue, including Mikey, that he should be on that list. He has $9 million in live earnings along with 4 WSOP bracelets and 5 WPT final table appearances.
Matusow has also made the final table of the WSOP Main Event twice in his career. He finished 6th at the 2001 Main Event and 9th in 2005. Another little known fact is that he partially backed Scotty Nguyen when he won the 1998 Main Event. Matusow got $333,333 for that stake.
I’ll admit that I’ve been a fan of Mike’s for a while. If you’ve never had a chance to talk with him in person, you are missing out on World Class Entertainment. I’d love to see Mikey in the HOF but as I have said in the past, consistency in recent years may be the one thing that’s holding him back.
Just look at his earnings in the last five years:
- 2016 – $40,342
- 2015 – $0 (Yes, that’s a zero folks)
- 2014 – $12,195
- 2013 – $1,091,850
- 2012 – $82,700
When Matusow is focused and on his game, he is among the game’s best. Hopefully we will see more flashes of brilliance soon in order to finally get him into the HOF where he belongs.
Huck Seed is the 1996 WSOP Main Event Champion and four-time WSOP bracelet winner. He also won the 2010 WSOP Tournament of Champions. He has a solid $7.64 million in tournament earnings and has been a consistent performer over the course of his career.
Seed has certainly played and thrived against the best players in the world. The one real knock against his stats is that a significant chunk of his post-Boom earnings have come in closed-field or invitational events. He has three scores of $500,000 or more in non-open field events.
Another thing that is hurting him currently is a lack of performance. In the last three years, he has made just under $60k in live events. When you’re not performing, fans aren’t going to be voting for you.
Seed is going to have to do something to remind fans of the type of player he is or else he will have to rely on a current HOF member to put him on the ballot.
Ted Forrest certainly has all of the qualifications for induction but odds are that he won’t get in for quite a while. He has $6.33 million in earnings, six WSOP bracelets and one WPT title. Forrest has also played high stakes against the best competition in the world and even took on Andy Beal as part of “The Corporation.”
Of course, most everyone remembers his weight loss prop bet with Mike Matusow. He won the bet but Matusow only paid about $70k of the bet.
Sadly, recent events are going to stain his legacy and likely prevent him from getting into the hall anytime in the future. He’s facing two felony charges for passing bad checks for gambling debts. Forrest is fighting the charges but regardless of the outcome, the stigma over those bad debts will hang over him for a while.
David Chiu has been a finalists for induction multiple times in the past, most recently in 2015. The five-time WSOP bracelet winner has over $8 million in career earnings. He also has one WPT title.
Skill in all forms of poker, Chiu is one of the most prolific mixed games players in the world. The downside of being a mixed games specialist is that you don’t get the same press as the NL winners and losers. Luckily, he has performed well enough in recent years that even casual fans know who he is and that’s resulted in multiple stints on the list of finalists.
The biggest knock on Chiu is probably that he doesn’t have a lot of “sexy” wins on his resume outside of his WPT Championship in 2008. We believe it will take him making the list of finalists on a year where the other choices are somewhat weaker in order to push him over the top.
Marcel Luske hasn’t made the list of finalist for the Poker Hall of Fame since 2011 and his lack of inclusion shows a bit about how out of touch that the poker public is in regards to European players.
Luske is considered to be the “Godfather of Dutch Poker” and is a two time European Poker Player of the Year winner. His $4.43 million in career earnings is good for #1 on the Netherlands All-Time Money list.
Luske’s career dates back to the late 1990’s and he became popular internationally due to his deep televised runs in the 2003 and 2004 WSOP Main Event. He finished 10th in the 2004 Main Event and he helped coach David Williams to a second place finish.
In addition to his career on the felt, he has been influential away from the table. He co-founded the International Poker Federation and has been a contributor on multiple TV programs.
Luske has also been a mentor to many young players over the year with David Williams and Krill Gerasimov among the most successful.
Last year, Luske was among the inaugural inductees into the Nederlandse Poker Hall of Fame. Despite his strong resume, the “Flying Dutchman” doesn’t have the same popularity in the United States that he once enjoyed and that fact alone will likely keep him out of the HOF for a while.
Men “The Master” Nguyen
Men the Master has perhaps the best stats among the players on this list. He is a seven-time WSOP bracelet winner with over $10.5 million in tournament earnings. His most recent victory was in 2010 when he won the $10k Stud Championship.
With a poker resume going back to the mid-1980s, he’s been wildly successful in every era of poker. He also has 95 tournament victories, #1 all-time according to Hendon Mob.
Despite his pedigree in the game, Men the Master has also a less than stellar reputation including allegations of cheating in the past. I won’t go into those allegations specifically but anyone that has been involved in poker any length of time has heard at least one or two stories about Men the Master.
Nguyen’s reputation may well keep him out of the Hall of Fame for the time being. However, the poker community is forgiving and since these alleged incidents are well in the past and pale compare to antics of Russ Hamilton, there may be hope he one day gets in.
If there is one player not already in the Hall of Fame that has “stood the test of time,” it is “Johnny World” Hennigan. The four-time WSOP bracelet winner has an impressive resume of tournament results dating back to the late 1990s.
Two of Hennigan’s bracelets came pre-Boom, as did his United States Poker Championship title. In 2007, Hennigan won the Borgata Winter Open for his first World Poker Tour Title. Then in 2014, Hennigan took down the $50,000 Poker Player’s Championship for his third career bracelet. Among pros, the PPC is considered the “True World Championship of Poker.”
This year, Hennigan finished 7th in the L.A. Poker Classic and then won his fourth WSOP bracelet by taking down the $10k 2-7 Limit Triple Draw Lowball Championship. He has over $6.79 million in tournament earnings alone.
In addition, he has played against the best competition in the world with Daniel Negreanu once calling him the best player he’d ever faced. Johnny World is also one of the game’s most prolific prop bettors.
It is a bit surprising that Hennigan hasn’t made the list of finalists yet but a lot of that may be because he isn’t as high profile of a pro and the casual fan doesn’t get to see him that often.
At some point, we cannot see Hennigan not getting into the Hall of Fame but it may take a push by select pros to get him there.
Honorable Mention – Isai Scheinberg
Before you throw a fit for putting Scheinberg as an “honorable mention,” he would not be nominated as a player but rather a contributor. This is a list for players. However, every time snubs for the HOF are mentioned, Scheinberg’s name is mentions.
One needs to consider the political climate that is poker and the Poker Hall of Fame. While few will deny Scheinberg’s impact on the game through the creation and subsequent stewardship of PokerStars, the fact remains he is still considered “at-large” in connection with charges stemming from Black Friday.
Until he resolves those charges with the U.S. governments, it is unlikely that he will ever come up for nomination.
Dishonorable Mention – Chris Ferguson
Just as Scheinberg will not be nominated based on his connection to Black Friday, the same is true for Ferguson but for a completely different reason. The five-time WSOP bracelet winner has stats greater than a number of inductees in the last few years and he was the programming genius behind Full Tilt Poker.
His involvement with Full Tilt is what is going to keep him out of the Hall of Fame. We know the story and that he’s settled charges connected to his involvement. However, his decision to remain silent about what happened and his involvement has left a bitter taste in nearly all of our mouths.
Even if Ferguson were to come clean with everything that went down, it is unlikely that poker fans will ever nominate him to the list of finalists. His only chance is to have a current member suggest him for nominations. Even if that were to happen, there’s no chance in hell he’d earn induction.
Go ahead and put Ferguson permanently at the top of the list of “Best Poker Players Not in the Poker Hall of Fame.”