Ten individuals, including the player whose World Series of Poker victory 15 years ago was credited for helping to trigger the game’s phenomenal growth, are the 2018 nominees for inclusion in the Poker Hall of Fame.
Chris Moneymaker, a Tennessee accountant who turned a $39 buy-in through an online satellite tournament into eventual victory at the 2003 WSOP championship, is among the players and poker officials named as finalists by the Poker Hall of Fame. Up to two will be selected by the 28 living Hall of Fame members and an 18-person media panel.
The winners will be inducted July 13 as part of the final table festivities during the World Series of Poker’s Main Event Championship.
Moneymaker has previously been a Hall of Fame finalist. In his first live poker tournament after winning a seat online, Moneymaker won $2.5 million, capturing the WSOP’s $10,000-buy No Limit Hold’em World Championship. He defeated a field of 839 players.
The victory is credited with causing interest in poker, both live and on television, to boom, a phenomenon which has been termed the “Moneymaker effect.” The next year, the Main Event drew 2,576 entries; the field’s rapid expansion would eventually peak with a record 8,773 entries in 2006.
This year’s Main Event has 7,874 players, the second-largest field ever. The 2018 World Series of Poker has 79 total events and runs over six weeks at the Rio in Las Vegas.
Moneymaker has continued to play poker, amassing $3.7 million in lifetime earnings to this point.
There are two first-time Hall of Fame nominees: five-time gold bracelet winning John Hennigan, who has amassed $8 million in winnings, and Los Angeles cash game professional David Oppenheim.
Swedish poker professional Chris Bjorin, five-time bracelet winner David Chiu, poker television producer Mori Eskandani, French poker professional Bruno Fitoussi, long-time poker standout and personality Mike Matusow, poker tournament director Matt Savage, and 1996 WSOP Main Event champion Huckleberry Seed, round out the finalists.
Harrah’s (now Caesars) Entertainment acquired the Hall of Fame along with the World Series of Poker in 2004. The Poker Hall of Fame, established in 1979, has 54 members.