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Poker Hall of Fame

The Poker Hall of Fame
by Chad Holloway of

Most major sports have developed an institution in order to pay homage the greatest players of all-time, the Hall of Fame. Though poker is not usually considered a sport, it has brought forth skilled participants throughout the years who thrive on competitiveness and gamesmanship. To show appreciation for these titans of the game, Benny Binion, the founding father of the World Series of Poker, created the Poker Hall of Fame in 1979.

Though the Poker Hall of Fame doesn't have a physical exhibit to honor their members, unlike most other major sports, the prestige still remains; in fact, T.J. Cloutier has said, “There are two things I’ve wanted to accomplish in the poker world. One was to win the main event and the other was to get into the Hall of Fame.” Although there are no set criteria for induction in the Hall of Fame, inductees usually share two qualities: success at the table and a contribution to the evolution of the game. Here is a breakdown of the Hall’s current members as presented in Tim Peter’s Poker Hall of Fame Timeline:

- Felton “Corky” McCorquodale (introduced poker to Las Vegas in 1963)
- Johnny Moss (winner of three W.S.O.P. championships)
- Red Winn
- Sid Wyman (owner of the Sands, the Riviera, and the Dunes)
- “Nick the Greek” Dandalos (the legendary high roller)
- James Butler Hickok (better known as “Wild Bill” Hickok)
- Edmond Hoyle (known for his rules on card games)

1980: - T. “Blondie” Forbes (inventor of Texas Hold’em according to James McManus)

1981 - Bill Boyd (considered one of the best five-card stud players)

1982 - Tom Abdo (died of a heart attack at the poker table)

1983 - Joe Bernstein (known for his elegant attire)

1984 - Murph Harrold (his best game being deuce-to-seven)

1985 - Red Hodges (considered one of the best seven-card stud players)

1986 - Henry Green (excelled at multiple variations of poker)

1987 - Puggy Pearson (winner of the 1973 Main Event)

1988 - Doyle Brunson (winner of both the 1976 and 1977 Main Events)

1989 - Jack “Treetop” Straus (won the 1982 Main Event after being down to just a single $500 chip, spawning the mantra, “a chip and a chair.”

1990 - Fred “Sarge” Ferris (winner of a deuce-to-seven lowball bracelet) and Benny Binion (launched the W.S.O.P. and Poker Hall of Fame; inducted posthumously)

1991 - Chip Reese (won the 2006 W.S.O.P. $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. event)

1992 - Amarillo “Slim” Preston (winner of the 1972 Main Event and poker’s first media star)

1993 - Jack Keller (winner of the 1984 Main Event)

1996 - Julius Oral Popwell (Old-time gambler)

1997 - Roger Moore (long-time participant, and bracelet winner, of the W.S.O.P.)

2001 - Stu “The Kid” Ungar (Won the Main Event a remarkable three time in 1980, 1981, and 1997)

2002 - Lyle Berman (CEO of the World Poker Tour and holder of three bracelets) and Johnny Chan (won back-to-back Main Events in 1987 and 1988)

2003 - Bobby Baldwin (honored by having Bellagio’s poker room, “Bobby’s Room,” named after him.

2004 - Berry Johnston (winner of the 1986 Main Event)

2005 - Jack Binion (helped in the expansion and growth of the W.S.O.P.) and Crandall Addington (top poker player for decades)

2006 - T.J. Cloutier (winner of six bracelets) and Billy Baxter (winner of seven bracelets and winner against the landmark court case regarding poker winnings against the IRS)

2007 - Phil Hellmuth Jr. (winner of the 1989 Main Event and eleven bracelets) and Barbara Enright (first woman inductee and only woman to make the Main Event final table)

Harrah’s acquired the Poker Hall of Fame with its acquisition of the W.S.O.P. Nolan Dalla, the W.S.O.P. spokesperson, has stated that the Poker Hall of Fame is a “work in progress,” and added, “Eventually, I hope it will be a shrine or an exhibit that people can visit. The Hall’s members are great players, great ambassadors for the game - great people who have done a lot for the game of poker.” One things is for sure, along with winning gold bracelets and tournament titles, induction into the Poker Hall of Fame is one of the greatest accomplishments a poker player can achieve.


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