The nine finalists for the 2009 Poker Hall of Fame induction class were announced Tuesday and among them is Party Poker spokesman Mike Sexton. Sexton heads a group of players from which only a select few will be chosen for the honor, which makes this quite an interesting vote.
The other eight poker players are Scotty Nguyen, Men “The Master” Nguyen, Erik Seidel, Daniel Negreanu, Phil Ivey, Dan Harrington, Barry Greenstein, and Tom McEvoy. A panel consisting of the 15 living Poker Hall of Fame members and 15 poker media members will now cast their ballots. The catch: each panelist may only vote for a maximum of three people, which makes their decisions very difficult. Any finalist who receives at least 75 percent of the vote will be inducted into the Hall.
Candidates were initially nominated by the public. Anyone who wished to nominate a player was able to go to the World Series of Poker website to do so. Out of the 41 men and women who were nominated, the top ten were given consideration as finalists. The only one of the ten that did not make the final ballot was online poker phenom Tom “durrrr” Dwan.
“With all due respect to Mr. Dwan, one of the games most exciting young players”, said a member of the Poker Hall of Fame Governing Council, “he does not currently meet the criteria for Hall of Fame selection.”
According to the World Series of Poker’s Hall of Fame website, those criteria are as follows:

  • A player must have played poker against acknowledged top competition
  • 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 and success of the game of poker, with indelible positive and lasting results.

Despite being one of the most feared players in the world, the 23 year-old Dwan does not meet the “test of time” criterion, hence his elimination from the list. Said the Governing Council member, “We wish him well and expect he will again be considered once he has ‘stood the test of time’.”
Amongst those in the poker community, Mike Sexton and Dan Harrington seem to be getting the most support. Sexton has been a leading man of the poker scene for multiple decades, but unlike many of his peers, is very well known and respected by the younger poker generation, those in their twenties and thirties. Known as the “Ambassador of Poker”, he has been a familiar face for years as the announcer of the World Poker Tour, along with Vince Van Patten. He was also one of the first professional poker players to represent an online poker site, joining forces with Party Poker in the early part of this decade. Party Poker renewed its relationship with Sexton in April 2009.
Dan Harrington, ironically nicknamed “Action Dan” for his tight playing style, won the World Series of Poker Main Event in 1995 and had what some consider the greatest back-to-back run in WSOP history, placing third in the Main Event in 2003 and fourth in 2004, when the fields were 839 and 2,576 runners, respectively. Harrington is also the author of the famous Harrington on Hold’em series of books, considered “must have’s” for any tournament player’s poker library.
Voting for the 2009 Poker Hall of Fame class will conclude October 2nd and the inductees will be announced November 7th.  A special dinner will be held for the finalists, their friends and family, current Hall of Famers, and media, during which the new class will be inducted.

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