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An introduction to the Poker Hall of Fame

The Poker Hall of Fame is where the poker world honors its heroes. The honored heroes (and a few honored heroines as well) include the greatest land-based and online poker players in history along with others who have contributed to the growth and development of the game. If you love the wonderful game of poker you will surely be inspired by the legendary figures enshrined in the Poker Hall of Fame.

History of the Poker Hall of Fame

The Poker Hall of Fame was created in 1979 by Benny Binion, the owner of the Horseshoe Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. The seven original members were:

  • Wild Bill Hickok — A notorious gunfighter and gambler, James Butler Hickok was shot in the back at a poker game in 1876 while holding a hand of two pair: aces and eights, a hand now known as the “Dead Man’s Hand.”
  • Edmond Hoyle — This 18th century English gentleman wrote the rulebooks, to the extent that “according to Hoyle” has become a common phrase for following the rules.
  • Johnny Moss — He won the very first World Series of Poker Main Event in 1970, when the champion was elected by a vote for the best player, and he won it again the next year under the present freeze-out tournament elimination format.
  • Nicholas Andrea Dandalos— Legend has it that a five-month-long Heads-Up poker game between “Nick the Greek” and Johnny Moss in 1949, held in front of the window at the Horseshoe Casino so passers-by could watch, marked the origin of poker as a public spectator sport.
  • Red Winn — Unlike his more flamboyant compatriots, Red was virtually unknown to the general public but was admired by his peers as the best all-around player of his time, a master of just about every poker variation in existence.
  • Felton McCorquodale — “Corky” is the man who brought Texas Hold’em to Las Vegas. It was in 1963, it was at the California Club in Downtown Las Vegas, and it changed poker history.
  • Sid Wyman — A highly skilled poker player himself, Sid made his mark as owner of several of the top Vegas casinos including the Sands, the Riviera, the Royal Nevada, and the Dunes.

As you can see, this inaugural Hall of Fame class was a diverse gathering of the famous and the not-so-famous, of historical figures, great poker players, and casino entrepreneurs. What they all had in common is that each one, in his own unique way, contributed something special and enduring to the wonderful world of poker.

The Hall Continues to Grow

After the inauguration of the seven original members in 1979, the Poker Hall of Fame continued to grow with the addition of one or two new honorees every year. Most were great poker players, others made their mark in various other roles. Some of the most outstanding members of the Hall of Fame, with the year of their induction, are:

  • Blondie Forbes (1980)
  • Doyle Brunson (1988)
  • Benny Binion (1990)
  • Chip Reese (1991)
  • “Amarillo Slim” Preston (1992)
  • Stu Ungar (2001)
  • Johnny Chan (2002)
  • Phil Hellmuth (2007)
  • Barbara Enright (2007)
  • Linda Johnson (2011)
  • Scotty Nguyen (2013)
  • Daniel Negreanu (2014)
  • Jennifer Harman (2015)
  • Phil Ivey (2017)

From a rich field of eligible and worthy nominees, two new members were elected to the Poker Hall of Fame in 2018. The two honored inductees of the Class of 2018 were:

  • John Hennigan. Considered by many of his peers to be the best all-around poker player in the world today, Hennigan has won championship bracelets in Limit Hold’em, No-Limit Hold’em, Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo, 2-7 Lowball, and H.O.R.S.E.
  • Mori Eskandani. As the executive producer of top poker television programs including Poker After Dark, the National Heads-Up Poker Championship, and the World Series of Poker, Eskandani has helped spread poker awareness to the general public and thereby created millions of new poker fans and poker players.

The addition of John Hennigan and Mori Eskandani brought the total membership of the Poker Hall of Fame up to 56 individuals. Of course, this is not the end. As long as people play poker on land or play poker online, which will probably be for as long as human life continues to exist on this planet, there will be outstanding men and women deemed worthy of enshrinement in the Poker Hall of Fame. These individuals are the very best of the best, and we poker players can honor and admire their incredible accomplishments.