Poker Hall of Fame A North American AffairOctober 29, 2015 11:30 am
The Poker Hall of Fame chose Johnny Moss as its first member in 1979, and since then the honor has been bestowed upon a total of fifty members, with its most recent entries including John Juanda and Jennifer Harman. While no one doubts the worthiness of these winners, not everyone seems happy about the distinctive American flavor of the Poker Hall of Fame, as each year its newest recruits all seem to hale from North America.
This has naturally caused many to question the impartiality of the organization, with the debate particularly heated this year on account of the sudden passing of a British legend, Dave “Devilfish” Ulliott, aged 61. Many UK players consider the “Devilfish” to be the country’s best ever player, not just on account of his WSOP and WPT titles, and $6,218,292 in winnings, but because many players point to Ulliott as their main inspiration for taking up the game in the first place.
Nevertheless, the “Devilfish” now seems to have missed his one chance to be inducted in Poker Hall of Fame, as before his death his name had not even been considered for nomination. Ulliott is not alone, either, in being sidelined in favor of North American candidates, and lamenting the situation, British television director and poker player John Duthie recently wrote:
“I myself suggested on my Facebook page that no non-American player should even accept nomination until the selection process has been changed. Now, this is just not about “Devilfish” himself, but it is about the fact that no international player has ever passed the stage of nomination and this includes quite a list of talent.”
While John Duthie did note that a number of inductees originally haled from overseas, he nevertheless pointed out that they had all been granted U.S. citizenship, including Daniel Negreanu who received his citizenship in 2009. Other examples include Nick Dandolos (1979), Johnny Chan (2002), Scotty Nguyen (2013), and John Juanda (2015). Edmond Hoyle (1979), however, seems to represent a rare exception, although the English author is hardly a contemporary figure as he lived from 1672 to 1769, and died before Poker was invented.
Ending his impassioned piece, John Duthie had these words of warning to say to the Poker Hall of Fame and its sponsor, the World Series of Poker:
“..they need to look closely at the type of institution they want to be part of. If they want to be taken seriously outside of the U.S., then change is imperative. Do you want to be recognized by your peers worldwide, or be the subject of a Vegas tourist’s curiosity in 2050?”