Fixing the Poker Hall of Fame nomination and induction process

Hall of FameIf you read my columns regularly you know that I have a bit of an unhealthy fascination with the Poker Hall of Fame –from who belongs in it to how it should be configured. In this column I want to talk about the nomination and induction process, and how we can make the process as fair and inclusive as possible.

My Hall of Fame Criteria

Unlike the current criteria, under my new criteria a player doesn’t have to fit into each category to make the cut. Also, there will be no more arbitrary terms like “stood the test of time” or “played for high stakes.”

* A potential nominee must be 55 years old

40 is just too young for a Hall of Fame induction, but not for the reason you think. The problem with inducting players at 40 is that the past generations’ greats never have a chance to get in, because people are busy nominating a bunch of players they are familiar with.

In addition to being 55, a player must also fit into one of these categories:

* Is the person’s name synonymous with poker?

This is the only category that is a bit ambiguous, but for me it’s really pretty clear. Basically, I want to know if when you mention the person’s name people immediately think poker. Tom McEvoy = Poker, get it?

* Were they considered at the top of their game in a specific format?

I don’t care about high-stakes or whether they couldn’t play cash-games worth a damn. This is like saying Satchel Page isn’t a baseball Hall of Famer because he was a crap hitter, or that Cal Ripken couldn’t play right field. What I want know is: Was the person considered one of the best at any specific format? PLO, 7-Card-Stud, Limit Holdem, tournaments, whatever.

* What contributions to poker have they made?

For non-players I want to know what contributions they’ve made to the game, and what kind of legacy they have left.

Initial Nomination Round

Ok, so we have the criteria set, but to be completely honest, it really doesn’t matter under my new way of doing things. The reason I say this is that every player/contributor that is 55 years old becomes a nominee, just like in Baseball.

The player or someone else can submit the person’s name to the Hall of Fame for nomination, and even long-shots make the final ballot. Basically, if you were a poker player and you are 55 years old, you’re going to be on the Hall of Fame ballot… well, at least once anyway.

Induction Round

Here are the people I want voting on the final ballot –the really long one with probably 100 names on it (notice the voting is never opened up to the public):

* All HOF members

* Expand the media voting to 25 individuals

* Selected Player Panel of 25 players (this could be determined by some criteria such as the top 25 players on the GPI over 30 years old or elected representatives from the poker world)

For the voting process, each voter can select up to three players, with the top five vote getters being inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame. Perhaps with a stipulation that they must receive at least 25 total votes, or reach some other designated vote count.

Furthermore, all nominees that do not receive a single vote will be stricken from the ballot the next year. Receiving at least one vote will keep you HOF eligible for five years, at which point a player needs to receive at least 10 votes in a single year to remain on the ballot.

Ring of Honor

Here is where we separate the men from the boys, so to speak. In addition to the Hall of Fame, any player receiving 75% of the vote in a given year will be nominated for Ring of Honor status.

The Ring of Honor nominees will be on next year’s ballot and must receive a 75% yes vote to make the cut for the Ring of Honor. So you can’t make the Hall of Fame AND the Ring of Honor in the same year.

What I’m trying to do here is separate the legends from the really good players. So players like Johnny Chan, Johnny Moss, Doyle Brunson, Phil Hellmuth, Stu Ungar, Daniel Negreanu, and Phil Ivey would be Ring of Honor players (now or down the road); players like Amarillo Slim and Puggy Pearson would be borderline; and players like Tom McEvoy, Mike Sexton, Barry Greenstein, and TJ Cloutier would be standard Hall of Famers.

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