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Poker Hall of Fame Needs to Create Contributors Committee

Poker Hall of Fame

As you may already know, Kahle Burns and Lynn Gilmartin were both recently inducted into the Australian Poker Hall of Fame. Burns is a high stakes player who has been one of the top players in the world over the last couple of years. Gilmartin is best known for her world on the World Poker Tour but has spent her entire career in the poker industry.

Gilmartin’s induction raises a question for the standard Poker Hall of Fame. The contributor category is used to enshrine deserving contributors who do not qualify through their play at the poker table. However, with a growing list of deserving players, one has to wonder if it is time to use a different system to induct contributors.

Players Should Always Get Top Billing

Whether it is poker, baseball, football, or cricket, I believe that a Hall of Fame should honor players first before honoring contributors. Some sports, such as baseball, form alternative committees to look at the careers of coaches, officials, and other contributors. Those that are deserving are then enshrined via these committees.

Poker does not have such a committee. Contributor candidates are voted on in the same way as players. When the finalists are announced, contributors take up slots that would better be suited for players. Chris Moneymaker is the latest example of a person that was inducted more as a contributor than for his play at the table.

Unfortunately, every time a contributor takes a ballot slot, a deserving player gets overlooked and even pushed out of the minds of poker voters. One problem with the Hall of Fame is the “what have you done for me lately” style of nomination.

A great player that has a couple of down years will largely be forgotten by those picking candidates. Throw in the name of the latest contributor that some feel has been overlooked and it makes matters worse for players getting overlooked.

Form a Contributors Committee

Baseball has several committees that meet every few years to consider various eras of the game. These committees consider players, managers, umpires, and executives. The committees are separate from the standard annual Hall of Fame voting. Players that drop off the main ballot after 10 years go on to the committee process.

Poker needs to consider forming a committee for contributors to the game. The number of players that become eligible for the Poker Hall of Fame grows every year. Since poker doesn’t have committees for separate eras of the game, everyone gets lumped together.

Forming a separate committee to enshrine contributors would allow for more players to be on the ballot. The contributor committee could meet annually or every two to three years. This would allow contributors to get a fair shot at being enshrined while giving the main Hall of Fame voting panel a greater chance to cut down on the backlog of qualified candidates.

Other Changes Still Needed

Forming a contributors committee is not the only thing that the Poker Hall of Fame needs to do to cut down on the backlog. Additionally, they could form other committees to look at older poker pros that may never get consideration due to a lack of knowledge by present-day panelists and fans.

Next, the PHOF should also raise the number of enshrinement slots annually. Inducting just two players a year will never allow for all deserving players to be inducted. I recommend raising the limit to four players per year to allow for larger classes and a reduction in the backlog.

Also, increased player and fan education on poker’s past is needed to inform everyone about the great players of the past. It is easy to overlook past champions when you have new superstars emerging every year.

The Poker Hall of Fame has the potential to be poker’s historian, cataloging the great players of the past. To do this, changes need to be made to ensure that everyone that’s deserving of induction gets a fair shot of enshrinement.

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