After a lengthy public nomination process on WSOP.com, the Poker Hall of Fame Governing Council has publicly listed the 10 finalists eligible for induction into the Poker Hall of Fame in 2013. Up to two players on the list will be accepted as the 2013 class. Who ultimately makes it will be determined by 37 individuals — the 19 living Hall of Fame members and an 18-person media panel — in a vote later this month (votes must be received by October 11).
This players they will be voting on are:
- Chris Bjorin
- Humberto Brenes
- David Chiu
- Thor Hansen
- Jen Harman
- Mike Matusow
- Tom McEvoy
- Carlos Mortensen
- Scotty Nguyen
- Huck Seed
Established in 1979, the Poker Hall of Fame was acquired by Harrah’s Entertainment along with the World Series of Poker in 2004. It looks to recognize poker's most influential players and other important contributors to the game, an honor bestowed on 44 players to date (the most recent were 2012’s Eric Drache and Brian “Sailor” Roberts).
This year’s field will be considered based upon the following criteria:
- A player must have played poker against acknowledged top competition
- Be a minimum of 40 years old at time of nomination
- Played for high stakes
- Played consistently well, gaining the respect of peers
- Stood the test of time
- Or, for non-players, contributed to the overall growth and success of the game of poker, with indelible positive and lasting results
This year’s crop is comprised of six players that were nominated last year (Bjorin, Chiu, Hansen, Harman, McEvoy, and Nguyen), one repeat nominee (Seed who was nominated in 2011) and three new faces (Brenes, Matusow, and Mortensen).
Here are some brief descriptions (listed in alphabetical order) on each of this year’s finalists for the Poker Hall of Fame Class of 2013 courtesy of the WSOP:
Bjorin, a 65-year-old Swedish-born poker player who now resides in London, England, has earned more than $5.5 million playing poker in his distinguished career. The two-time WSOP gold bracelet winner sits in fifth on the all-time on the WSOP cash list with 68 in-the-money finishes and ranks fifth all-time in WSOP Main Event cashes with seven.
A model of consistency, Bjorin has cashed for six-figures in 19 different calendar years, including the last 13 consecutively. He holds Sweden’s top spot on the country's all-time money list and cash records, and he is WSOP Europe’s all-time cash leader.
The man known as “The Shark” may be best known for his gregarious and outgoing personality, but Humberto Brenes has a lot of poker bite to back up all his barking. Fourth on the all-time WSOP cashes list with 72 in-the-money finishes, Brenes has been one of the most consistent WSOP performers for the better part of 25 years.
What stands out among those cashes is his track record in the WSOP Main Event, a tournament in which he has made the money on nine separate occasions, including a fourth-place showing in 1988. That puts him second on the list for most Main Event cashes behind only Berry Johnston. In addition to his $6 million in tournament earnings, the winningest Costa Rican player in poker history has also played a crucial role in helping to develop the poker scene in Latin America.
Born in China, David Chiu moved to the United States when he was an 18-year-old exchange student. Originally a restaurateur in Colorado, Chiu first started in poker as a dealer before transitioning into one of the most successful tournament players in poker history. The 53-year-old is a five-time WSOP gold bracelet winner with wins in limit hold’em, seven-card stud, and Omaha eight-or-better and cashes in 60 WSOP events. Chiu’s most recent bracelet victory came this summer at a stacked $2,500 Stud final table where he defeated the likes of Michael Mizrachi, Frank Kassela, and Scott Seiver to earn his fifth bracelet.
Chiu’s success extends beyond the WSOP, though, and also includes a memorable victory over Gus Hansen in the 2008 World Poker Tour World Championship. That win earned Chiu an impressive $3.3 million and, over the course of his career, Chiu has raked in almost $7.7 million in career tournament earnings since he first started playing tournaments back in 1996.
Since starting in poker in the late 1980s, Norwegian poker pro Thor Hansen has cashed in more than 175 tournaments, racking up more than $2.9 million in career earnings. His list of cashes is certainly long and includes some notable highlights such as two WSOP gold bracelets, won in 1988 and 2002, and an appearance at the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. final table at the WSOP in 2007.
Known in Europe as the "Godfather" of Norwegian poker, Hansen is one of the earliest supporters of the now-thriving European poker scene. In addition to his extensive tournament results, the 66-year-old Hansen is also an accomplished cash game player who was notoriously backed by Larry Flynt to play in high-stakes cash games in the 1990s.
Jennifer Harman has a long list of tournament accomplishments, including nearly $2.7 million in earnings, two WPT final tables, 12 WSOP final tables, and the honor of being the first woman to win multiple WSOP bracelets in open events. However, what might be even more impressive than her tournament results are her skills in the cash games.
The Reno, Nevada native has been a staple in the biggest cash games in Las Vegas for more than a decade and is one of the only women to play cash at such high stakes. The 48-year-old mother of two also dedicates much of her time to using poker to raise money for charitable causes, including the National Kidney Foundation and the Nevada Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Mike “The Mouth” Matusow has plenty to talk about when it comes to his poker accomplishments. The 45-year-old pro is a four-time WSOP gold bracelet winner with $9 million in career tournament earnings. A poker dealer turned poker pro, Matusow has final tabled the WSOP Main Event twice in 2001 and 2005, made 11 other WSOP final tables, and appeared at five WPT final tables.
Never one to bite his tongue, Matusow developed a reputation of being a tough player and a tough talker, as he frequently speaks freely at the tables. Poker fans have been seeing a lot of The Mouth this year, as he won the NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship back in March, then followed that up with his fourth WSOP bracelet win in the $5,000 Stud Hi/Lo event. This year marks the fourth time in Matusow’s career that he has posted seven-figures in tournament results.
One word to describe Tom McEvoy would be “timeless.” The 68-year-old, four-time WSOP champion has led a sterling poker career spanning five decades. Originally from Grand Rapids, Michigan, McEvoy left a career in accounting in the late 70s and moved to Las Vegas to pursue his ambition on the felt. That ambition led him to victory in the 1983 WSOP Main Event.
A consummate tournament player, McEvoy has posted consistently solid results for more than 30 years. His amicable nature and love for poker made him a true ambassador for the game as he competed in countless tournaments across the country. In addition to his tournament success, McEvoy is also credited with spearheading efforts that now prohibit smoking in poker rooms. He is also a noted poker author, having penned over a dozen strategy books and countless columns for CardPlayer.
When it comes to tournament poker and a player's return on investment, not many can compare to Carlos “The Matador” Mortensen. The 2001 WSOP Main Event Champion has won more money on the WPT than any other player in history despite playing significantly fewer events. His almost $6.5 million in WPT earnings combined with over $3 million in WSOP earnings and assorted other cashes put his career earnings at almost $11.5 million. The 41-year-old is also the only player to have won both the WSOP Main Event and the WPT Championship.
Hailing from Alicante, Spain but now residing in Las Vegas, Mortensen is still one of the top players in the game, just narrowly missing out on this year’s WSOP November Nine, bubbling the final table in 10th place.
“You call and it’s gonna be all over baby!” That famous jib to Kevin McBride before he won the 1998 WSOP Main Event personifies the man they call “The Prince,” Scotty Nguyen. With a style and charisma all his own, Nguyen is one of poker’s most recognized and well-liked personalities. Nguyen backs his flare and bravado with undeniable results that include over $11.7 million in career earnings, 19 WSOP and eight WPT final tables, and five gold bracelets.
Nguyen is also the only player to have won both the WSOP Main Event and the $50,000 Poker Players' Championship. From an 11-year-old refugee from war-torn Vietnam, Nguyen has come an incalculably long way to live his dream as a professional poker player.
It isn’t just Huckleberry Seed’s tall frame that helps him stand out among his competition at the table. The California native and Caltech alum is a four-time bracelet winner with $7.5 million in career tournament earnings. There is truly nothing Seed can’t play at the tables, as his varied list of results include WSOP gold bracelets in razz and pot-limit Omaha, a victory in the NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship, two final table appearances in the $50,000 Poker Players' Championship, a win in the WSOP Tournament of Champions in 2010, and, of course, winning the WSOP Main Event in 1996.
Since Seed first started playing tournament poker back in 1990, he has posted six-figures worth of results in all but four years he has played.
The 2013 Class of the Poker Hall of Fame will be inducted as part of the World Series of Poker Main Event final table festivities at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas during a special dinner and induction held Sunday, November 3 in the Wine Cellar & Tasting Room.
*Lead photo courtesy of calvinayre.com.