Women are welcome in the big Poker Hall of Fame, they said. Of course, this is true. The WSOP HOF honored Barbara Enright in 2007, Linda Johnson in 2011, and Jennifer Harman in 2015.
For most of poker’s past, though, women were not welcomed at the tables. Those who did play, many of whom had to weather the storms of harassment and rudeness to do so. Only in the past couple of decades have women played poker in bigger numbers. The history of women in poker is nowhere near as colorful or storied as that of men – the men honored in the Hall of Fame.
With that in mind, Lupe Soto wanted to do something to honor women in the game, women who may not have had the decades of playing experience on the same level as their male counterparts but who deserved recognition for their contributions to the game nonetheless. As a longtime advocate for women in poker, Soto started the Women in Poker Hall of Fame (WiPHoF) in May 2008.
There were 21 women in WiPHoF prior to this year’s nominations. In order of inductions and then in alphabetical order per year, they are:
- Class of 2008: Barbara Enright, Susie Isaacs, Linda Johnson, Marsha Waggoner
- Class of 2009: June Field, Jan Fisher, Cyndy Violette
- Class of 2010: Billie Brown, Jennifer Harman, Kathy Liebert
- Class of 2011: Phyllis Caro, Kristy Gazes, Margie Heintz
- Class of 2012: JJ Liu, Kathy Raymond
- Class of 2014: Deborah Giardina, Allyn Shulman
- Class of 2016: Debbie Burkhead, Victoria Coren
- Class of 2018: Maria Ho, Lupe Soto
In the past decade, WiPHoF found its groove, hosting nominations and voting every two years and welcoming the top two vote-getters in that year’s ceremony. The pandemic – of course – largely put a hold on that groove, but WiPHoF returned this year.
From 54 Nominees to Four Honorees
A public nomination process allowed people from around the world to nominate women who met the requirements to join the Hall of Fame.
- The woman must have been or still be active as a player or industry leader for 10 years or more.
- The woman must be at least 35 years old.
- The woman must have contributed to poker in a significant way.
- The woman must be approved by WiPHoF’s organizational committee and current Hall of Fame members.
The public brought 54 qualified individuals to the attention of WiPHoF, and there were seven who clearly had the most votes. Each accepted the nomination, which put those seven names on a ballot that went to all living WiPHoF members and a panel comprised of members of the poker media and poker industry. Each of them received votes to allocate any of the seven nominees. A public vote then tallied to add one more vote to a nominee.
In the end, four of the seven women were close enough in the vote counts to be inducted. And since there were no honorees in 2020, WiPHoF decided that they would induct four women this year. Liv Boeree, Kara Scott, and Kristen Bicknell Foxen did not make it.
The four new members of the Women in Poker Hall of Fame are:
- Angelica Hael, a longtime member of the gaming and poker community, starting in her home country of Australia working for Crown Casino and now having spent the last 12 years with the World Poker Tour. Her current title is Vice President of Global Tour Management. She has also spearheaded numerous initiatives to expand the number of women in poker.
Honored to be alongside some truly incredible women in the form of Vanessa, Terry & Jennifer. Overwhelmed w/ gratitude for the recognition, thankful to be in a position to make a contribution to an industry that I adore and appreciative of my @WPT family. #thebestisyettocome pic.twitter.com/OZs1KxzRyV
— Angelica Hael (@AngelicaHael) November 17, 2022
- Terry King, who started playing poker in 1972 and won numerous tournaments through the years, including a WSOP bracelet in 1978. She has in jobs ranging from dealer and prop player to shift manager and industry executive.
- Vanessa Selbst, a poker pro who won three WSOP gold bracelets and numerous other poker tournament titles. She racked up nearly $12M in live tournament earnings and sits atop the all-time list. She now plays poker less and works trading options.
- Jennifer Tilly, an actress who fell in love with poker in 2004. She won the WSOP Ladies Championship the following year, and continues to play tournaments and cash games when her busy Hollywood career allows.
Well deserved, congrats! 🎉
I remember years ago at the WSOP when you gave us an interview and when asked if you inspired women in poker you said “I don’t think people care if the Bride of Chucky plays poker”. And we had a laugh.
I think they care. ❤️
— AlCantHang (@AlCantHang) November 15, 2022
December 14 Ceremony
The four women will officially become WiPHoF members at 10am on Wednesday, December 14. There will be a ceremony at the PokerGO Studio at Aria on the Las Vegas Strip.
Jan Fisher will serve as the Master of Ceremonies, and Maria Ho will be the keynote speaker. Erin Lydon of Poker Power, WPA President Tara Smith, and WiPHoF founder Lupe Soto will speak as well.
PokerGO and Playtika (PlayWSOP) are presenting the event. The World Poker Tour is one of the many cosponsors, along with Poker Power, Faded Spade, Aria, Venetian Las Vegas, bestbet Jacksonville, Ladies International Poker Series (LIPS), Women’s Poker Association (WPA), Women in Poker, Poker Queen Studios, Game On Chip Co, Dreams & Queens, Tierra Fox, and Misfits Poker League.
The public is welcome to purchase tickets to the event via this link.
Proceeds from ticket sales will go to Poker Gives. This nonprofit organization was the brainchild of Linda Johnson, Jan Fisher, Mike Sexton, and Lisa Tenner well over a decade ago. They raised money through poker events and connections to help those in need. The organization is now a funding arm of Vegas Connected and raises money for veterans and youth groups. They also work to feed and clothe the unhoused members of the Las Vegas community.
The Women in Poker Hall of Fame is proud to announce Angelica Hael, Terry King, Vanessa Selbst, and Jennifer Tilly are this year’s "Class of 2022" Inductees. To Read the Full Story, please visit: https://t.co/xJcclBp0U0@AngelicaHael @VanessaSelbst @JenniferTilly pic.twitter.com/Q5cUlBk5ak
— Women in Poker Hall of Fame (@WIPHOF) November 15, 2022