Home » Poker Hall of Fame: What Is It and Who Is a Member?

Poker Hall of Fame: What Is It and Who Is a Member?

Home » Poker Hall of Fame: What Is It and Who Is a Member?

Poker Hall of Fame: What Is It and Who Is a Member?

a royal flush of hearts playing cards with five red poker chips on the bottom of them on a dark surface

In the world of poker, there’s a great number of titles and achievements up for grabs. From small trophies earned at local poker tournaments or online poker tournaments to the prestigious golden bracelets awarded to WSOP champions, players strive for greatness at all levels. 

Yet, amid all these accomplishments, there’s one unparalleled honor — to be inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame (PHOF.)

The Poker Hall of Fame is an exclusive club where extraordinary professional poker players are celebrated for their outstanding achievements and invaluable contributions to the game. It’s the ultimate honor that any poker player dreams of receiving in their lifetime.

Being inducted into this illustrious club elevates players to the status of “Poker Hall of Famers,” forever etching their names in the hallowed halls of poker greatness. They become part of an elite community and recognised as those who are the best poker players in the world.

What Is the Poker Hall of Fame?

part of the Binion casino sign

In 1979, something remarkable happened in Las Vegas. Jack Binion, the owner of the Horseshoe Casino, had the brilliant idea to establish the Poker Hall of Fame. His father, Benny Binion, the ultimate marketing maestro, had an incredible knack for promoting his casino and other ventures. He recognized something truly special about poker players in Las Vegas, namely that they were considered the crème de la crème of gamblers. They had an air of exclusivity and charm about them that made them stand out in the gambling world. 

Jack knew exactly how to leverage this unique appeal and take the poker scene to a whole new level. He created the PHOF to celebrate and preserve the legacies of the world’s most legendary poker players. But it wasn’t just about paying tribute to legends, he also planned to turn it into an exciting tourist attraction for his casino, in the process showcasing the captivating world of poker.

But Binion didn’t stop there. He also masterminded the world-famous World Series of Poker (WSOP) which has grown to become the pinnacle of poker events worldwide. Now, fast forward to 2004 and WSOP and the Poker Hall of Fame began a new chapter. Harrah’s Entertainment, now known as Caesars Entertainment, stepped in and acquired the rights to both of these iconic institutions. Nowadays, the WSOP takes charge of the selection process for new inductees into the Poker Hall of Fame.

So, how many greatest poker players of all time have been honored so far? Well, as of 2022, an impressive total of 61 remarkable individuals have earned their place in this esteemed institution. The very first person to receive this prestigious recognition was none other than Johnny Moss in 1979. He paved the way for future inductees, marking the beginning of an extraordinary Hall of Fame journey.

Criteria for Becoming a Poker Hall of Famer

a dealer wearing a formal vest and bowtie is sitting at a blackjack poker table holding playing cards with poker chips stacked in front of him

Since its inception, the Poker Hall of Fame has been continually evolving, with new players and poker personalities being added every year. The selection process and criteria for membership have undergone gradual changes over time.

In 2009, under the guidance of WSOP commissioner Jeff Pollack, the current model for induction into the Hall of Fame was established. These rules introduced a system according to which the public could nominate potential members while also outlining specific criteria that must be met by those seeking to join.

To be considered for induction as a player, individuals must meet the following requirements:

  1. They must compete against recognized top poker competitors.
  2. They play for high stakes, demonstrating a commitment to the highest levels of the game.
  3. Individuals must have reached a minimum age of 40 at the time of consideration.
  4. They consistently exhibit exceptional skills and earn the respect of their peers.
  5. They must maintain a prominent presence in the poker world over an extended period, proving their lasting impact.

For non-players aspiring to join the Hall of Fame, the criteria focus on their significant contributions to the overall growth and development of the game. These contributions must be undeniable and have a lasting impact on the poker community.

Some of the Greatest Poker Hall of Famers

Johnny Moss

A true poker icon, Moss made history as the first-ever winner of the WSOP Main Event, as voted by his fellow players, back in 1970. Not content with just one victory, he went on to claim the prestigious Main Event title again in 1971 and 1974, solidifying his status as one of the most accomplished players in the game. With three WSOP Main Event wins under his belt, Moss holds a special place in poker history.

Doyle Brunson

Affectionately known as “Texas Dolly,” Brunson became a revered member of the Poker Hall of Fame in 1988. With an impressive ten WSOP bracelets earned over three decades, Brunson is widely recognized as one of the most influential and accomplished poker players of all time. His influence extends beyond his tournament success. Brunson’s iconic book, “Super System,” has long been hailed as the go-to guide for poker players, earning it the reputation of being the poker bible for several decades prior to the poker boom. His expertise and contributions to the game have left an indelible mark on the poker community, establishing Doyle Brunson as a true legend in the game.

Benny Binion

The visionary behind the Horseshoe Casino and father of Jack Binion, Benny Binion was instrumental in elevating poker to its current esteemed status. While his connections to organized crime are well-known, poker enthusiasts worldwide owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Benny Binion. In recognition of his profound impact, he was rightfully inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1990. His contributions have left an enduring legacy, shaping the game that’s famous today.

Stu Ungar

A true legend in the world of poker, Ungar is celebrated as one of the greatest players of his time. He holds the impressive distinction of being one of only two players to win the WSOP Main Event three times, solidifying his status among poker’s elite. Notably, Ungar also achieved the remarkable feat of securing WSOP bracelets in four consecutive years, alongside esteemed players such as Moss, Brunson and Johnny Chan. Ungar’s exceptional skills extended beyond the WSOP. He famously clinched the prestigious Amarillo Slim’s Super Bowl of Poker title three times, further establishing his prowess in the game. Tragically, his life was cut short in 1998, but his legacy lives on.

Phil Hellmuth

An absolute force in the world of poker, Hellmuth stands as a true record breaker. His incredible achievement of winning a staggering 16 WSOP bracelets is unmatched, making him the all-time leader in this prestigious category. Notably, in 1989, Hellmuth thwarted Johnny Chan’s bid for a third Main Event victory, showcasing his skill and determination. Additionally, he emerged victorious in the 2012 WSOP Europe Main Event. Hellmuth’s dominance extends beyond bracelet wins. According to Hendon Mob, he holds the impressive record for the highest number of WSOP cashes, totaling an astonishing 161.

Full List of all Poker Hall of Fame Inductees

  1. Johnny Moss – 1979
  2. Nick Dandolos – 1979 
  3. Felton McCorquodale – 1979
  4. Red Winn – 1979
  5. Sid Wyman – 1979
  6. James Butler Hickok – 1979
  7. Edmond Hoyle – 1979
  8. T. Forbes – 1980 
  9. Bill Boyd – 1981
  10. Tom Abdo – 1982 
  11. Joe Bernstein –1983 
  12. Murph Harrold – 1984 
  13. Red Hodges – 1985 
  14. Henry Green – 1986 
  15. Walter Clyde Pearson – 1987 
  16. Doyle Brunson – 1988 
  17. Jack Straus – 1988 
  18. Fred Ferris –1989 
  19. Benny Binion – 1990 
  20. David Reese – 1991 
  21. Thomas Austin Preston – 1992 
  22. Jack Keller – 1993 
  23. Julius Oral Popwell – 1996 
  24. Roger Moore –1997 
  25. Stu Ungar –2001 
  26. Lyle Berman – 2002 
  27. Johnny Chan – 2002 
  28. Bobby Baldwin – 2003 
  29. Berry Johnston – 2004 
  30. Crandell Addington – 2005 
  31. Jack Binion – 2005 
  32. Billy Baxter – 2006 
  33. J. Cloutier – 2006 
  34. Barbara Enright – 2007 
  35. Phil Hellmuth –2007 
  36. Henry Orenstein –2008 
  37. Duane Tomko – 2008 
  38. Mike Sexton – 2009 
  39. Dan Harrington – 2010 
  40. Erik Seidel –2010 
  41. Barry Greenstein – 2011 
  42. Linda Johnson – 2011 
  43. Eric Drache –2012 
  44. Brian Roberts – 2012 
  45. Tom McEvoy – 2013 
  46. Scotty Nguyen – 2013 
  47. Jack McClelland –2014 
  48. Daniel Negreanu – 2014 
  49. Jennifer Harman –2015 
  50. John Juanda – 2015 
  51. Todd Brunson – 2016 
  52. Carlos Mortensen –2016 
  53. Phil Ivey – 2017 
  54. David Ulliott – 2017 
  55. John Hennigan – 2018 
  56. Mori Eskandani – 2018 
  57. Chris Moneymaker – 2019 
  58. David Oppenheim – 2019 
  59. Huck Seed – 2020 
  60. Eli Elezra – 2021 
  61. Layne Flack – 2022 

Winning Comes With Fame at BetMGM

Starting from 2009, the Poker Hall of Fame began welcoming nominations from the public, allowing enthusiasts to have a voice in the selection process. BetMGM welcomes all poker players looking to make a name for themselves. Just register to make a mark in the world of Poker Games. The final decision rests with the esteemed members of the Poker Hall of Fame and a select group of media representatives. Despite the virtual nature of the PHOF, its influence has significantly contributed to the increasing popularity of the game. Nowadays, numerous bookmakers offer online poker alongside their other products on poker sites, making it convenient for anyone to join the worldwide community of poker players. 

In case you plan a visit to the Poker Hall of Fame, it may well be worth your while to become more familiar with the personal histories of some of the big names in poker and, perhaps more specifically, get to know the most famous poker players in Nevada and Canada.

Discover how the renowned Poker Hall of Fame came into existence and get to know some of the greatest names in the game.