Every year when the Poker Hall of Fame is announced the online poker community are perplexed that Isai Scheinberg was not nominated. This year he was finally nominated but didn’t win, and the debate rages on.
Online poker is now over 20 years old and a lot of the young guns of the game are approaching 40 (the age minimum for the Poker Hall of Fame). In a few years time we could start a credible Online Poker Hall of Fame using the same criteria as the Poker Hall of Fame, which is as follows:
- A player must have played poker against acknowledged top competition
- Played for high stakes
- Be a minimum of 40 years old at time of nomination
- 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
Standing the test of time
There are a lot of iconic players who seem like a shoo-in because they were so memorable, but would not pass the ‘test of time’ metric. I am thinking of players like Annette Obrestad who did a lot for the game, had an almost mythical reputation but don’t actually play that much now.
Just like in live poker, there are also players who have crushed consistently but have had their controversies that would sour the award. Somebody like Daniel Cates, who has stood the test of time but recently admitted to ghosting, would be one of those. You also have Doug Polk who crushed the game and really helped to grow it on YouTube, but publicly has declared he hates poker, meaning that would make for a very awkward nominee.
If I were to pick two players who appear to have consistently crushed the highest levels of the game since the early boom years to today, I would pick Tom Dwan and Phil Galfond. Dwan is crushing the games in Macau these days prior to his online days and Galfond has proved he is still one of the best with his online heads-up challenges. The fact that Dwan has not resumed his ‘durrrr Challenge’ goes against him here.
Driving the growth of online poker
The ‘builder’ category could have a lot of unsung heroes in it, but two obvious choices would be Joe Ingram and Isai Scheinberg. Joey has always been at the heart of the biggest stories in the online poker community and is the person people contact when a major story needs wider exposure.
Whatever you think of PokerStars today, they probably did more to grow online poker than any other site since the boom. They allowed a lot of people to turn professional and played a big role in the growth in the live game thanks to their online satellites. For that reason and because of all the lobbying people have done for him over the years, Isai Scheinberg would have to be at least nominated the first time.
I’d also make a case for Chris Moneymaker to be a nominee, as the outpouring of love he recieved when he left PokerStars showed he is the reason a lot of people got into the game. It would also be fun for him to be the first person in both Halls of Fame.
There are usually only two inductees every year if we follow the classic Hall of Fame model. Of those potential nominees I think it would perhaps be the easiest and crowd-pleasing decision to name Phil Galfond and Isai Scheinberg as the first official members of the Online Poker Hall of Fame.