The finalists for this year’s WSOP Poker Hall of Fame are in and, already, some of the names on the list are causing a stir.
As it does every year, the WSOP tries to identify the worthiest candidates through a mixture of public and private voting.
This year, ten names have been selected. However, in a change to proceedings, only one (instead of two) will make it into the Poker Hall of Fame.
Isai Scheinberg Divides Opinion
Currently holding the weight of public opinion is Isai Scheinberg. The founder of PokerStars has arguably made a greater contribution to poker than anyone else on the list.
2020 Poker Hall of Fame Finalists
- Patrik Antonius
- Lon McEachern and Norman Chad
- Eli Elezra
- Antonio Esfandiari
- Chris Ferguson
- Ted Forrest
- Mike Matusow
- Matt Savage
- Isai Scheinberg
- Huckleberry Seed
However, his nomination doesn’t sit well with everyone. Fellow Hall of Fame nominee Norman Chad doesn’t believe Scheinberg should be on the list at all.
Although he created the world’s largest poker site, Chad believes Scheinberg’s criminal record should exclude him from the vote.
The criminal charges relate to PokerStars’ activities in the US. Unlike some operators that exited the market after UIGEA made it illegal for gaming sites to process payments from US players, PokerStars remained active.
I no longer have a vote for the Poker Hall of Fame, but it appears to me that virtually everyone nominated this year – present company excepted – is Hall of Fame-worthy, with one notable anomaly:
PokerStars founder Isai Scheinberg.
— Norman Chad (@NormanChad) December 21, 2020
It wasn’t until a 2011 indictment from the Department of Justice forced PokerStars to shut down its US operations before returning almost a decade later.
Whether or not the US government’s attack on online gaming was justified is a matter for debate. However, the reality is that Scheinberg was hit with five criminal charges. He was sentenced in 2020 and received a $30,000 but no jail time.
Chad believes the whole saga is a “stain” on poker. However, those in favor of Scheinberg argue that, without PokerStars, the game wouldn’t be where it is today.
Poker Hall of Fame Sparks Debate
Patrik Antonius was one of online poker’s original high stakes stars and went on to become a force in the live arena. Although he’s less prominent than he once was, Antonius still commands respect whenever he plays.
Tournament director Matt Savage also has a shot, as does Big One for One Drop winner Antonio Esfandiari.
Everyone else on the list is worthy of their place but, at this stage, they’re considered outsiders.
Whatever the outcome, it’s fun to speculate and that’s what fans are doing ahead of the December 30 announcement.