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Daniel - Poker Journal

My Take on the Poker Hall of Fame

05 Aug 2009


The criteria has always been the same, but it seems that some aspects of the criteria are less important than they once were. Back when I started playing poker, unless you played in the big game, you didn't have a shot. Guys who just played tournaments, but never had any success at pokers highest levels in the cash games- need not apply.

When I was a "real professional poker player" my main income source came from grinding in the cash games. Starting out playing $10-$20 limit hold'em and eventually playing $100-$200 limit hold'em. That was the highest limit hold'em game you'd find, and while I could beat it, I wanted to play higher which meant playing all the games. Went from $200-$400 to eventually, at my peak, playing $4000-$8000 mixed games with the best in the world. These days I don't play much at all in the cash games. Not because I feel that I don't have an edge, I'm comfortable playing in any mixed game with any lineup, but simply because my heart iss not in it (blame that on golf I guess) right now, and in order for me to succeed, I feel like I need to stay sharp and play regularly. I haven't done that in years. I'm sure in the winter this year I'll look to get back to playing, but in the meantime I just play in the $400-$800 8-game mix on PokerStars.com to keep sharp.
Point being, I always wanted to be good at everything, not just no limit hold'em tournaments. It was a personal goal to be a great all around player, which I always figured was the only way to get into the HOF. Not anymore apparently.

The criteria is as follows:

(1) Must have played against top competition.
(2) Played for high stakes.
(3) Played consistently well, gaining respect of their peers.
(4) Stood the test of time.
(5) Contributed to the overall growth and success of poker with positive and lasting results.

I don't think there are too many players that would qualify for 5 out of 5. For example, you could have a great cash game player, well respected, been around for years, but never done anything "for" poker outside of starting a game or two. I'll throw out a guy like Ralph Perry for example. He's played against the best, for big money, his game is respected, and he's been around a lot of years... but (5), I don't see how he qualifies there. Not a knock on him, just a fact.

I don't get a vote, but if I did it wouldn't be a tough decision for me at all. For the same reasons that Doyle believes Mike Sexton should be the #1 guy, I agree 150%. He's played "high enough" is well respected "enough" for his play, and has been around along time. He simply has no equal, however, when it comes to contributing to the growth of poker.

Most of you guys probably have no idea how much Mike did for poker before the boom. He was a visionary for real. He created an awesome event, that today, post boom, would probably be a massive hit, the "Tournament of Champions." It was a unique event with a barrier for entry. You had to either be a WSOP bracelet holder or win a sanctioned tournament in the calendar year. You don't, have a win, you sit on the sidelines no matter who you are! I remember them shutting out a prominent name back then who bitched and moaned about it, but I was proud of the fact that Mike stood his ground and didn't let them play unless they qualified like everybody else.

Well before his role as WPT commentator, Mike did countless hours of FREE internet audio coverage of several final tables. I know because I'd often do some of the commentary with him at the WSOP and other venues.

Mike just always "got it" about what poker could be, but the key difference with Mike was that he actively went out and tried to make things happen.

Mike Sexton just has to get voted in this year, no question about it. As for who should be nominated second, well, I can think of a person or two not on that list of nominations that I'd choose. One in particular, but I'll leave that one alone. The person I'm thinking about definitely qualifies on all fronts. In fact, I really don't like the idea too much, that the public gets to nominate the players. It becomes too much of a popularity contest and it's easy to stuff a ballet to get someone in.

Take Tom Dwan for example. I mean really? Don't get me wrong, I know he is a great player, but he's 22... a lot can happen in a kids life between 22 and 28. I know, because I was once a great 22 year old poker player, as well as an awful, tilted 24 year old poker player. I bounced back, but not everyone does, and that's why one of the criteria is "stood the test of time." I don't doubt Durrr will continue to excel at the highest levels, but he has to do it first, for a little while longer.

As for me, I was flattered to be nominated, but don't feel at all like I should be voted in. I don't feel like I have a lot to prove exactly, and I do think I'll get voted in eventually, just not now. Mike Sexton needs to go in now. There are also a few other older guys who should go in ahead of me. I always kind of figured, back when we used to hang out a lot, that me, Ivey, Juanda, and Cunningham would all go in together, but I don't see that happening.

Whoever gets in, I'm sure it'll be controversial, but I guess that's what makes for a good Hall of Fame. Whether it's baseball or basketball, fans always argue over who does and doesn't deserve to get in to the HOF. It's a lot of fun and I think it's a special honor to be inducted into to the hall with the likes of Doyle Brunson, Johnny Moss, and of course, Chip Reese...

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