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Poker Hall of Fame

By Paul McGuire

The Poker Hall of Fame is located at Binion’s Horseshoe Casino in Las Vegas. It was created by Benny Binion in 1979 to pay homage to the best card players in history and to drum up more tourist traffic for the Horseshoe. A new player is enshrined into the Poker Hall of Fame almost every year, aside from the initial induction of seven charter members in the inaugural year. In 1988 and 2000, two players were enshrined simultaneously. In 1994,1995 and 1998 through 2000, no players were inducted.

There are simple yet strict criteria to which a player must adhere in order to be considered for inclusion into the Hall of Fame:

  1. Player must have played high stakes.
  2. Player must have played against acknowledged top competition.
  3. Player must have played well consistently and gained the respect of his peers.
  4. Player must have stood the test of time.

Here is a list of inductees:

Felton "Corky" McCorquodale (1979)

Corky was the man who introduced Texas Hold'em to Las Vegas in 1963. Although it took a while, Hold’em eventually became the most popular form of poker in Las Vegas. Corky is a charter member of the Poker Hall of Fame.

Johnny Moss (1979)

Johnny Moss is one of the greatest poker players of all time. He was a road gambler and played in games all over Texas before gambling became legal. He has won three World Series of Poker Championships in 1970, 1971, and 1974. He also played in the most infamous heads-up poker game of all time against Nick the Greek. Johnny Moss is one of the charter members of the Poker Hall Fame.

Red Winn (1979)

Red is one of the best all-around players of his time. He was skilled in every game. Red Winn is a charter member of the Poker Hall of Fame.

Sid Wyman (1979)

Originally from Missouri, Sid was a high-stakes gambler and a noted poker player. For three decades, Sid co-owned several Las Vegas casinos: the Sands, Riviera, and the Dunes. When he passed away in 1978, play at the Dunes was halted for two minutes during his funeral. Sid is a charter member of the Poker Hall of Fame.

"Nick the Greek" Dandolos (1979)

Nick the Greek was a high-stakes gambler and played in the most famous heads-up poker game in history against Johnny Moss. After five straight months of poker, an exhausted Nick the Greek uttered one of the most famous lines in all of poker, "Mr. Moss, I have to let you go." Rumors say he lost over $4 million in that game. Nick the Greek is a charter member of the Poker Hall of Fame.

Edmond Hoyle (1979)

Edmond Hoyle was an Englishman who wrote a popular book called A Short Treatise on the Game of Whist (1742). His book was often used to settle disputes in games played by Londoners. Centuries later, games would be played “according to Hoyle.” He is one of two non-modern players to be enshrined. Edmond Hoyle is a charter member of the Poker Hall of Fame.

Wild Bill Hickok (1979)

Wild Bill Hickok is one of the most famous gamblers and personalities of 19th Century American West history. His legend grew in 1876 after he was killed while playing poker at a saloon in Deadwood, South Dakota. He was holding aces and eights, which quickly became known as “The Dead Man's Hand.” Wild Bill is a charter member and most widely-known member of the Poker Hall of Fame.

T. “Blondie” Forbes (1980)

Blondie Forbes was one of the veteran road gamblers. He followed the big games and money all over Texas. He was a regular at Red Men’s Club in downtown Dallas, a card room that Doyle Brunson and Sarge Ferris would frequent.

Bill Boyd (1981)

Bill Boyd is a two-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner. He is considered the best five-card stud player of all time. He is such a big Las Vegas legend that he was dealt the first poker hands at the openings of both the Golden Nugget and Mirage poker rooms.

Tom Abdo (1982)

Tom Abdo was a true gambler and poker player. While suffering a heart attack at the poker table, he turned to another player, asked him to count his chips and to save his seat. Unfortunately he died from that heart attack and never returned to the game.

Joe Bernstein (1983)

Joe was another one of the many road gamblers who toiled for years running from both the law and criminals, seeking out high stakes games all over Texas and the Southwest. He might be considered the best dressed player at the poker table, and always looked sharp.

Murph Harrold (1984)

Murph Harrold is known as one of the best Deuce-to-seven Draw players of all time. That game is also called Kansas City Lowball.

Red Hodges (1985)

Red is the second player nicknamed “Red” to be enshrined into the Poker Hall of Fame. He is considered by his peers to be one of the best Seven-card Stud players in history.

Henry Green (1986)

Originally from Alabama, Henry Green was another infamous road gambler who would play in games all over the South. He was an excellent all-around player and excelled at more than one game.

Puggy Pearson (1987)

Puggy Pearson won his first World Series of Poker Championship in 1973. He would also take home two more bracelets that year. He was an excellent and aggressive No Limit and Seven-card Stud player. Always chomping on a cigar, he has been known for his erratic temper.

Doyle Brunson (1988)

Texas Dolly was one of the original Texas road gamblers and probably the most famous poker player in the world today. He was the first player to win $1 million in tournament play and won back-to-back World Series of Poker Championships in 1976 and 1977. He is the author of one of the most popular poker books, Super System. He also penned the most anticipated book in poker history, Super System 2. Doyle has nine WSoP bracelets and has one victory on the World Poker Tour.

Jack Straus (1988)

Jack Straus was a tall man who stood over six feet six inches tall and was aptly nicknamed “Treetop.” He was also known to spin plenty of “tall tales.” He was the 1982 World Series of Poker Champion and also has two total WSoP Bracelets. He died at the poker table after he suffered a heart attack at the Bicycle Club in Southern California.

Fred “Sarge” Ferris (1989)

Sarge Ferris took up gambling to escape poverty as a child. He was a professional gambler his whole life. He won a World Series of Poker bracelet in 1980 (Deuce-to-seven Draw). He gained infamy in 1983 when Internal Revenue Service agents barged into the Horseshoe. They quickly seized $46,000 worth of poker chips from him during his game as payment for back taxes.

Benny Binion (1990)

Benny Binion founded the Horseshoe casino and was a skilled poker player and road gambler. The Las Vegas we know today is due in part to the vision and hard work of Benny Binion. With the heart of a true Texas gambler, he took risks and chances that a lot of other businessmen would never consider. One has to wonder that if Benny had never left Texas perhaps Las Vegas never would have evolved into what it has become, and we might never have heard of the World Series of Poker.

Chip Reese (1991)

The story of Chip Reese began when he came to Las Vegas en route to California in 1974 with $400 in his pocket. He started playing low limit Seven-card Stud and never left Las Vegas. He is regarded as the best cash game player of all time and plays in the biggest and highest limit games in the world today. He is the youngest person ever enshrined into the Poker Hall of Fame at 40 years old.

Amarillo Slim Preston (1992)

Amarillo Slim is one of the most famous gamblers in the world and he helped bring high stakes poker from the seedy, smoke-filled, dangerous backrooms of Texas to respectability at the glitzy and glamorous casinos of Las Vegas. He is a notorious proposition gambler and has been a regular on the talk show circuit for several decades. He won the World Series of Poker in 1972. He has four World Series of Poker bracelets and came in second place at the 2001 World No Limit Heads Up Championship.

Jack Keller (1993)

Gentleman Jack Keller is one of the most consistent winners of all time. He is the 1984 World Series of Poker Champion and won a bracelet in 1993 for Limit Omaha.

“Little Man” Popwell (1996)

Little Man Popwell was actually a big man who weighed over 300 pounds. He was one of the road gamblers from the 1940s and 1950s and regularly played against fellow Hall of Famers such as Henry Green and Johnny Moss. He was one of the best Five-card Stud players of all time.

Roger Moore (1997)

Not to be confused with the actor who played James Bond, this Roger Moore came from more humble beginnings. He has had three cashes at the Main Event in the World Series of Poker since he played in his first one in 1974. He has been the runner-up three times. He won his first WSoP bracelet in 1994, when he placed first in the Seven-card Stud event.

Stu Ungar (2001)

Stu Ungar is regarded as the best and most feared No Limit Hold’em player of all time. He won three World Series of Poker titles and only Johnny Moss has as many championships as Stu. He has five total WSoP bracelets. He won ten major No Limit events which is a huge feat considering he only entered thirty in his life. Unfortunately, Stu succumbed to his inner demons and allowed his addiction to drugs and gambling ruin his amazing poker skills.

Lyle Berman (2002)

Although Lyle Berman is a cash game specialist, he also has three WSoP bracelets. He won events in Limit Omaha, No Limit, and Deuce-to-seven Draw. He has placed second in different WSoP events a total of four times. He is currently the Chairman of the Board of the World Poker Tour.

Johnny Chan (2002)

Johnny Chan was a back-to-back World Champion in 1987 and 1988 and almost became the first player to win three straight championships. He is tied for first with nine WSoP bracelets. At the time of his induction to the Poker Hall of Fame in 2002, Johnny Chan was the leading money winner in the history of the World Series of Poker. He achieved immortality after his appearance in the poker film Rounders. Johnny Chan regularly plays in the highest stakes cash games in Las Vegas today.

Bobby Baldwin (2003)

Bobby Baldwin is a skilled player who won the 1978 World Series of Poker championship. Bobby has won four career WSoP bracelets. He is also a poker writer. He penned the Limit section in Doyle Brunson’s masterpiece Super System. Currently, he is one of the highest regarded CEOs in Las Vegas and helped bring a touch of class to the game of poker.

Berry Johnston (2004)

Berry Johnston is the 1986 World Series of Poker Champion. At the time of his induction into the Poker Hall of Fame in 2004, Berry Johnston was recognized for having the most all-time cashes at the World Series of Poker. Berry has made money in at least one tournament every year since 1982, which is truly an amazing feat.

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