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The 2018 World Series of Poker (WSOP) has reached its closing weeks with start of the Event #65: $10,000 No-Limit Hold’em MAIN EVENT – World Championship. Meanwhile, the ten official finalists for the Poker Hall of Fame (PHOF) Class of 2018 have been announced.
Following a rigorous procedure that involved a public nomination process along with a PHOF Governing Council screening process, the ten finalists who have been selected are Chris Bjorin, David Chiu, Mori Eskandani, Bruno Fitoussi, Mike Matusow, Chris Moneymaker, Matt Savage, Huckleberry Seed, John Hennigan and David Oppenheim.
While Hennigan and Oppenheim are recent additions, the remaining eight have been nominated in previous years. Let us take a look at the journey of each of these nominees in the world of poker.
Currently ranked 2nd in the Sweden All Time Money List, this poker maestro has had a career that lasted for nearly three decades. Starting from 1991, Chris Bjorin has cashed in 85 WSOP events accruing earnings of $2,125,957 in total. The 70-year-old two-time WSOP bracelet winner has total live earnings of $5,699,159 and was last seen in Event #50: $1,500 Razz of the ongoing WSOP 2018 where he finished 50th for $2,322.
Five-time bracelet winner David Chiu started his career in 1996 and there’s been no looking back since then. With 73 cashes, this 57-year-old has collected $3,666,879 in the WSOP alone. However, his career best win came in a non-WSOP event when he shipped the $25,000 + 500 No Limit Hold’em – Championship Event in the Sixth Annual Five Star World Poker Classic – WPT World Championship in 2008 for an astounding $3,389,140. Ranked 11th on the California All Time Money List, his total live earnings are a staggering $8,034,339.
A high-stakes cash game specialist, Mori Eskandani is a well-renowned persona in the domain of modern poker content production. Owner of Poker PROductions, he has revolutionised the sphere of televised poker and has contributed greatly to its rising popularity by churning out content such as Poker After Dark, High Stakes Poker, National Heads-Up Poker Championship, Face the Ace along with producing the ongoing WSOP telecasts on ESPN and PokerGO. But his expertise is not restricted to just behind-the-scenes as, he has also scored in 17 WSOP events with $239,047 in the process.
A known face in the French poker community, Bruno ‘The King’ Fitoussi can be attributed with the growing fame of Texas Hold’em in the European nation. He was the first to introduce the poker variant to the Aviation Cub de France back in 1995 and has diligently worked towards popularising it through televised events and by providing commentary to a variety of shows over a period of over 20 years. An avid poker player, Fitoussi has total live earnings of $2,969,949 and is presently placed 10th on the France’s All Time Money List.
The second five-time bracelet winner on this list, John ‘Johnny World’ Hennigan won his WSOP gold bracelets in five different events – Limit, Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo, H.O.R.S.E., 2-7 Lowball and Poker Players Championship. The last WSOP win was also his career-best score of $1,517,767. Having cashed at the WSOP 41 times, Hennigan has earnings of $5,531,236 in the tournament series. He has already scored in nine events at this year’s WSOP, with his last one coming from Event #63: $3,200 WSOP.com ONLINE No-Limit Hold’em High Roller where he finished 16th for $11,090.
Mike ‘The Mouth’ Matusow has been a prominent fixture at this year’s WSOP but his association with the tournament series dates back to 1997 when he claimed his maiden WSOP score in Event #8: $2,000 Limit Omaha Hi-Lo where he was runner-up for $81,700. Following this impressive start, the 50-year-old pro went on to pick up 60 cashes in over two decades which includes four bracelet wins in Event #11: $3,500 No-Limit Hold’em (1999) for $265,475, Event #29: $5,000 Limit Omaha Hi-Lo (2002) for $148,520, Event #18: $5,000 No-Limit 2-7 Lowball Draw (Rebuy) (2008) for $537,862 and Event #13: $5,000 Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo 8 or Better (2013) for $266,503.
Turning the unthinkable into reality, Chris Moneymaker shocked the poker world when he won Event #36: $10,000 No-Limit Hold’em MAIN EVENT – World Championship in 2003 for $2,500,000. This Tennessee-based accountant’s unique story has immensely contributed to the growth of televised poker. His success is witnessed by his total live earnings of $3,716,238 which includes $2,532,041 that he collected from his WSOP Main Event victory. He is a living example of the factthat even recreational poker players can make it big in poker.
For more than two decades David Oppenheim has instilled fear into the hearts of his opponents in all the cash games he has participated in. A highly accomplished cash game player, the 45-year-old has nine WSOP cashes under his belt and earnings of $986,376 in the series. His career-best score came in the $50,000 The Players Championship Event 8 Game of the 2010 WSOP where he placed 3rd for $ 603,348.
Unlike the other finalists on this list, Matt Savage may not have a lot of wins to his name, but he is prominent figure in the poker fraternity. Acting as the tournament director for Bay 101 Casino in San Jose, California and the Commerce Casino in Los Angeles, Savage is also the Executive Tour Director for the World Poker Tour. He is the founder of the Tournament Directors Association (TDA), and has worked tirelessly to regulate the rules for poker tournaments globally. Savage regularly answers questions from professional and recreational poker players on Twitter.
The last finalist on the list is four-time WSOP bracelet winner Huckleberry ‘Huck’ Seed. Boasting of 53 WSOP cashes and total live earnings of $7,649,864, Seed is a versatile pro who has won at a variety of events including Event #3: $2,500 Pot-Limit Omaha (1994) for $167,000, Event #25: $10,000 No-Limit Hold’em MAIN EVENT – World Championship (1996) for $1,000,000, Event #17: $1,500 Limit Razz (2000) for $77,400 and Event #27: $5,000 Limit Razz (2003) for $71,500.
Official ballots of these ten finalists will be sent to the 28 living Hall of Fame (HoF) members and 18 members of a media voting panel, who will thereafter submit their votes to the WSOP Governing Council for the tally. Following this, the names of the inductee(s) will be declared and the induction ceremony will be conducted as a part of the WSOP Main Event final table celebrations on July 13.