The World Series of Poker announced the ten nominees for the 2022 class of the Poker Hall of Fame on Wednesday, June 22. The list includes seven previously nominated candidates (including the two-person pairing of longtime WSOP announcers Lon McEachern & Norman Chad). There are also three first-time finalists, noted below with an asterisk. Here is a look at the nominees:
- Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier
- Brian Rast*
- Isai Scheinberg
- Josh Arieh*
- Kathy Liebert*
- Layne Flack
- Lon McEachern & Norman Chad
- Matt Savage
- Michael Mizrachi
- Mike Matusow
This list includes three possible inductees being considered for their contributions to the game outside of playing: the aforementioned iconic commentary duo of McEachern and Chad, veteran tournament director Matt Savage, and PokerStars founder Isai Scheinberg, who was first nominated as a finalist in 2020.
The other seven candidates are all successful players with millions upon millions in tournament earnings and other accolades to their name.
According to the WSOP, the criteria for induction is as follows:
• A player must have played poker against acknowledged top competition
• Be a minimum of 40 years old at the time of nomination
• Played for high stakes
• Played consistently well, gaining the respect of peers
• Stood the test of time
• Or, for non-players, contributed to the overall growth of the game of poker, with indelible positive and lasting results
The 32 living members of the Poker Hall of Fame will collectively vote on which of these ten finalists will become the 61st inductee. The induction ceremony will be held on Sunday, July 10 in tandem with the final table of the WSOP main event.
All living Poker Hall of Fame members have been invited to play in the second annual WSOP $1,979 Hall of Fame no-limit hold’em bounty event (with the buy-in priced in honor of the Hall of Fame’s founding year of 1979). This open event will see participating Hall of Fame members get a bounty on their heads corresponding to their year of induction. For example, whoever knocks out last year’s inductee, Eli Elezra, will earn $2,021 in bounty prize money.
Below is a look at some of the poker accomplishments of the seven nominees being considered for their play over the decades.
Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier
Bertrand Grospellier, known to many as simply ‘ElkY’, is a French poker player and former professional gamer. The 41-year-old is number one on his country’s all-time money list with more than $14.6 million in career cashes.
Grospellier is a two-time WSOP bracelet winner, and with wins on the World Poker Tour and European Poker Tour, is part of an exclusive club of ‘triple crown winners’.
With nearly $22.3 million in career tournament earnings, 40-year-old Brian Rast is currently the 29th-highest-earning poker player in the history of the game.
Despite placing much of his focus on high-stakes cash games, Rast has accumulated five WSOP gold bracelets over the years, including two wins in the prestigious Poker Players Championship In 2011 and 2016. He also won the first-ever Super High Roller Bowl in 2015, topping a field of 43 entries in the $500,000 buy-in event to earn more than $7.5 million.
Reigning WSOP Player of the Year Josh Arieh has made a strong push toward Hall of Fame eligibility in recent years. The 2004 WSOP main event third-place finisher secured three of his top-five cashes in the past few years, and also won two of his four career bracelets during his run to the POY title in 2021.
With more than $10.6 million in career earnings, the 47-year-old joins Rast in making his debut on the finalist’s list.
After first cashing a live event back in 1994, Kathy Liebert has gone on to record another 401 in-the-money finishes, totaling more than $6.5 million in career earnings.
The 2004 WSOP limit hold’em shootout event winner also holds the distinction of being the first female player to ever win a seven-figure payout in a tournament, which she did as the champion of the 2002 Party Poker Million event. This is the first year that Liebert, 54, has made the list of finalists.
The late Layne Flack passed away in 2021 at the age of 53. The six-time bracelet winner accrued nearly $5 million in tournament earnings, with most of his biggest wins coming during the height of the poker boom.
Flack earned the nickname “Back-to-Back Flack” after winning two tournaments in as many days at the 1999 Legends of Poker series at the Bicycle Casino. Flack also won the WPT Invitational event back in the 2003 season of the then-fledgling tour.
Like Rast, Michael Mizrachi is a multi-time winner of the vaunted $50,000 Poker Players Championship. Incredibly, the 41-year-old has managed to add his the Chip Reese memorial trophy three times (2010,2012,2018).
All told, Mizhrachi is a five-time bracelet winner. He also made the WSOP main event final table in 2010, finishing fifth for more than $2.3 million. The two-time WPT main event champion was made a finalist in his first year of eligibility in 2021.
Rounding out this list is the player lovingly referred to as ‘The Mouth’. The 53-year-old four-time bracelet winner has nearly $9.6 million in lifetime tournament earnings, including two million-dollar scores: one for finishing ninth in the 2005 WSOP main event, and another for taking down that year’s tournament of champions.
Matusow also won the NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship for $750,000 back in 2013.
Here is a look at all current members of the Poker Hall of Fame:
|Nick “The Greek” Dandolos||1979|
|Felton “Corky” McCorquodale||1979|
|James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok||1979|
|Walter Clyde “Puggy” Pearson||1987|
|Doyle “Texas Dolly” Brunson||1988|
|Jack “Treetop” Straus||1988|
|Fred “Sarge” Ferris||1989|
|David “Chip” Reese||1991|
|Thomas “Amarillo Slim” Preston||1992|
|Julius Oral Popwell||1996|
|Stu “The Kid” Ungar||2001|
|Johnny “The Orient Express” Chan||2002|
|Bobby “The Owl” Baldwin||2003|
|Brian “Sailor” Roberts||2012|
|David “Devilfish” Ulliott||2017|