Each year, the Poker Hall of Fame inducts new legends into its (for now) virtual-only shrine. Three of the most recent inductees—Phil Ivey, Daniel Negreanu, and Jennifer Harman—are all household names with poker fans, who might wonder why the trio weren’t already sworn in years ago.
To receive this honor, players must:
- Be at least 40 years old
- Have played high stakes poker against top competition
- Have played consistently well
- Earned the respect of their peers and “stood the test of time”
Considerations are also given to those that have impacted the development of the game in some significant way. Nominees are submitted by fans and then voted on by the 27 living Hall of Fame members as well as a panel of 18 poker media members.
While some of that criteria is vague at best, it does give us enough to speculate on who might be the next poker stars to receive the honor.
Anyone that watched poker on TV in the early 2000s likely remembers Mike Matusow. Part of the reason for this was his table trash talk and loud mouth (which he is nicknamed for), but Matusow has more than backed up his loud personality with three decades of successful performances.
The first and last of his four bracelets came in 1999 and 2013, respectively. Accompanying these wins on Mouth’s resume are 43 money finishes, 14 final tables (two at the Main Event), and five WPT Final Tables.
Top 50 in all time earnings among Americans, Matusow won the 2014 NBC National Heads-Up Championship and the 2005 WSOP Tournament of Champions.
One of the 2017 nominees that didn’t quite make it in, Ted “Spooky” Forrest has won six WSOP bracelets, including three consecutive ones in three different styles of poker at the 1993 event.
His next bracelet wouldn’t come until 2004, where he made up for lost time by winning two at that year’s event. He further showed his staying power and timeless talent by winning a sixth in 2014.
The American has also had a notable career outside of WSOP events. In 2006, Forrest won the National Heads-Up Poker Championship and $500,000. A year later, he won the World Poker Tour Bay 101 Shooting Stars Tournament by surviving the longest heads up battle in WPT history.
He’s also one of the players depicted in the famous poker book The Professor, the Banker, and the Suicide King by Michael Craig, documenting his (and others’) high stakes games with billionaire Andy Beal.
No poker player not enshrined in the Hall has more gold bracelets than Men Nguyen. His seven titles across an 18-year span are a testament to his consistent high performance.
‘The Master’ has 101 cashes at WSOP events, good enough for eighth all time. Overall, Nhuyen is estimated to have won more than $10.5 million in his career.
Nguyen’s other accolades include four World Poker Tour final tables finishes, four times being named Card Player Magazine player of the year, and he has even trained other WSOP bracelet-winning players like Minh Nguyen (his cousin) and David Pham.
The only thing that might keep this living legend out of the hall are the cheating allegations that hung over his head at the end of the 2000’s.
Europeans are notably sparse in the Poker Hall, with just three honoraries. But even though he might not be the flashiest name, Barny Boatman might be the next to join this exclusive club.
Boatman’s poker pedigree is solid enough: two WSOP bracelets, 34 money finishes, 13 money finishes between the WPT and EPT, and he was the first person to reach three consecutive WSOP final tables.
But Boatman made more significant contributions to the game as a member of The Hendon Mob. This foursome appeared regularly on the UK television series Late Night Poker, the first of its kind on British TV and a hit that inspired waves of new players.
Boatman and his colleagues’ deal with Prima Poker in 2004 was also the first $1 million team sponsorship in the game.
Boatman is perhaps the most worthy representative of the bunch to be enshrined.
One to Watch: Daniel Colman
While he is still just 27 and has “just” one WSOP bracelet, if Daniel Colman stays on his current trajectory he’ll be a surefire hall of famer.
The highest earner on Hendon Mob’s All-Time Money List not already in the Hall, American Daniel Colman’s $28 million-plus career winnings make him third all time.
Holman broke into the poker mainstream at the 2014 WSOP when he defeated Negreanu heads up in the $1,000,000 buy-in Big One for One Drop.
This $15.3 million win, his third place finish in the $10,000 heads up event at the same WSOP, and another bronze finish in that year’s EPT Grand Final earned him Player of the Year honors in multiple outlets.