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The verdict is out! High-stakes cash game legend and four-time WSOP bracelet champion Eli Elezra (cover image) is the latest member of the prestigious Poker Hall of Fame. Elezra’s name was announced by WSOP tournament director Jack Effel at a special ceremony today just before the start of Event #79: Poker Hall of Fame Bounty, a special event introduced for the first time at the World Series of Poker this year.
Kevin Mathers tweeted a video of the Poker Hall of Fame announcement.
Poker Hall of Fame announcement https://t.co/AelR60JREg
— Kevin Mathers (@Kevmath) November 17, 2021
Elezra is the only player entering the Poker Hall of Fame this year after being voted in by the 32 living members of the PHoF. In being chosen, he stepped past nine other nominees. These include industry stakeholders WPT Executive Tour Director Matt Savage and Isai Scheinberg and professional players
Mike Matusow, Layne Flack, and Antonio Esfandiari, Chris Ferguson, Ted Forrest, Michael Mizrachi, and Bertrand “Elky” Grospellier. The nominees were announced in October.
The 60-year-old player who originates from Israel has been living in Las Vegas for over 20 years now. He becomes the 60th inductee to the PHoF and is its 33rd living member, joining the likes of Doyle Brunson, Stu Ungar, and Daniel Negreanu in what is considered the most elite and accomplished group of poker players. Before Elezra, the 1996 WSOP Main Event champion Huckleberry Seed had joined the PoHF in 2019.
“Amazing, amazing, thank you…For me to be alongside Phil Ivey and Daniel Negreanu, Phil Hellmuth, and (Barry Greenstein), and even (Jack McClelland) and (Mori Eskandani), all those people…I finally made it,” Elezra said, “Everybody who knows me and has played a hand of poker with me knows how much I love this game.”
He added, “Israel is a small country, but there are a lot of poker players from there now, [even though] poker is illegal there….To come from a small country and make the Hall of Fame is a dream come true.”
Elezra also thanked Doyle Brunson and the late Chip Reese “for teaching this fish to swim with the sharks.”
Reacting to Elezra joining the PHoF, another nominee Matt Savage, said – “I’m happy for Eli.”
Fellow Israeli, the founder of Cardplayer Lifestyle, Robbie Strazynski, was happy to see a fellow countryman join the PHoF. “Eli Elezra has long been Israeli’s national poker hero,” Strazynski told PokerNews. “I believe I can safely speak for my fellow Israeli poker lovers and fans in saying that we couldn’t be more proud to have him as our country’s first-ever representative in the Poker Hall of Fame.”
PHoF Entry – A Long Time Coming
A former Full Tilt Poker pro, Elezra’s start in poker wasn’t very successful. Born and brought up in Jerusalem, he joined the Israeli Army but was discharged following an injury during the 1982 Lebanon war. He moved to Alaska, where he picked up various jobs before relocating to Las Vegas and starting his own business. It was in Sin City where Elezra began playing poker. He has played some of the biggest cash games in the famous Bobby’s Room at the Bellagio. As far as tournament winnings go, Elezra boasts of over $4.60 Million in live tournament earnings.
Elezra reminisced, “I started playing poker in 1985… and I wasn’t very successful…[So to come all this way] and be alongside guys like Chip [Reese], Doyle [Brunson], Phil Ivey, Barry Greenstein, Phil Hellmuth, Daniel Negreanu… nobody can take that away from you. This is amazing.”
Elezra has appeared many times in popular TV cash game shows like Poker After Dark and High Stakes Poker. He has also authored an autobiography, “Pulling the Trigger,” translated into English by fellow Israeli Robbie Strazynski.
Elezra’s last bracelet win had come in 2019 in Event #20: $1,500 Seven Card Stud. Joining the PHoF is indeed an honor long-time coming for Elezra, widely considered a model ambassador of the game.