The Poker Hall of Fame is a prestigious institution that honors the most accomplished and influential figures in poker. As the nomination period for 2023 commences, poker enthusiasts eagerly await the unveiling of the next inductee. This year, the World Series of Poker has opened the nomination form to the public, inviting passionate players and supporters to participate in the selection process. However, it is important to understand the criteria and guidelines governing the nominations to ensure deserving candidates are recognized for their exceptional contributions to the game.

Criteria for Eligibility

To be considered for the Poker Hall of Fame, nominees must meet specific requirements that have remained largely unchanged over the years with the exception of the addition of a minimum age. These criteria serve as the foundation for evaluating a nominee’s suitability for induction. Firstly, a player must have demonstrated their skill by competing against acknowledged top competition, proving their mettle against the best in the game. Secondly, they should have played for high stakes, demonstrating their ability to perform under pressure and navigate the complexities of high-stakes poker.

Another crucial requirement is that nominees must be at least 40 years old at the time of nomination. This age restriction ensures that individuals have accumulated significant experience and made a lasting impact on the poker landscape. Additionally, players must have displayed consistent excellence throughout their careers, gaining the respect and admiration of their peers. Standing the test of time is an essential aspect of the evaluation process, as it recognizes those who have consistently performed at a high level over a significant period.

Furthermore, while the Poker Hall of Fame primarily focuses on players, non-players who have contributed substantially to the game’s growth and success can also be considered. Through their efforts and initiatives, these individuals have positively impacted the poker community, leaving an indelible mark on the game.

Logo for Poker Hall of Fame, Established 1979

Objective and Subjective Criteria

While the age requirement provides a clear-cut and objective criterion, other elements of the nomination process involve varying degrees of subjectivity. Playing against top competition and participating in high-stakes games are relatively straightforward measures of a player’s skill and impact. These factors ensure that only the most exceptional players are considered for induction, filtering out individuals who may excel in smaller, more casual settings but need more experience and caliber required at the highest level of play.

However, determining whether a player has stood the test of time and earned the respect of their peers can be more nuanced. Many factors, including personality, behavior, and relationships within the poker community, may influence a player’s reputation. It is not uncommon for players with exceptional skills to have a polarizing effect on their peers, garnering admiration from some and disfavor from others.

Moreover, longevity alone does not guarantee induction into the Poker Hall of Fame. The nomination process allows players who have made significant contributions within a shorter span of time to be considered alongside those with decades-long careers. This aspect injects an element of excitement into the process, as voters have the opportunity to weigh the impact and achievements of players across different time frames and determine what they consider to be the most important factors.

doorway to the Poker Hall of Fame with sign above and giant playing cards surrounding the entrance

Celebrating Excellence and Influence

As the nomination period draws to a close, the Poker Hall of Fame Governing Council will diligently review the top ten vote-getters to ensure their eligibility. This step ensures that the most deserving candidates move forward in the selection process. The finalist list will then be presented to the esteemed living members of the Poker Hall of Fame, who possess the ultimate authority to determine the inductee for 2023.

It is important to note that, despite the deserving nature of multiple candidates, only one person will join the Poker Hall of Fame ranks this year. This limitation guarantees that the honor remains exclusive, reserved for individuals who have truly left an indelible mark on the game of poker. Consequently, some deserving players will inevitably face disappointment, a testament to the caliber and competitiveness of the field.

Last year’s inductee, the late Layne Flack, left an indelible legacy in the poker world. The nine finalists who narrowly missed the induction included Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier, Brian Rast, Isai Scheinberg, Josh Arieh, Kathy Liebert, Matt Savage, Michael Mizrachi, Mike Matusow,  Lon McEachern and Norman Chad. Each of these players possesses remarkable achievements and contributions that have shaped the poker landscape.

Notable omissions from last year’s list include Anthony Zinno, Antonio Esfandiari, Jeremy Ausmus and Ted Forrest, all of whom have consistently demonstrated exceptional skills, strategic prowess, and impressive track records in their poker careers. Additionally, this year’s eligibility introduces a strong contender in Steve O’Dwyer, who holds the 12th spot on the Hendon Mob list with a remarkable $36.7 million in live tournament cashes. 


The Poker Hall of Fame nomination period is an eagerly anticipated event that allows the poker community to recognize and celebrate excellence in the game. While the age requirement provides an objective measure, other criteria involve subjective evaluations. This ensures that both the most accomplished players and influential non-players have the opportunity to be considered for induction. As the nomination process comes to a close, the anticipation grows for the announcement of the inductee for the Class of 2023. Regardless of the outcome, the Poker Hall of Fame continues to uphold its tradition of honoring those who have left an indelible impact on the game of poker.