2023 Poker Hall of Fame Finalists Revealed

The finalists for the Poker Hall of Fame class of 2023 were revealed this past week. The list includes six active pros, one deceased Main Event champion, and three that qualify under the contributor category.

This year’s nomination will prove to be a tough one considering the diversity of the finalists. It also highlights the need to expand the Hall of Fame voting process.

Arieh, Rats, and Forrest Highlight Hall of Fame Finalists

The list of ten finalists for the 2023 Poker Hall of Fame was revealed this past Thursday. An open nomination process was convened at the start of the 2023 World Series of Poker, and those votes helped to narrow down the list. Also, living Poker Hall of Fame members can nominate players directly, which could explain a couple of names on this list.

Here is the list of finalists in alphabetical order

Josh Arieh

Jeremy Ausmus

Ted Forrest

Kathy Liebert

Mike Matusow

Lon McEachern and Norman Chad

Brian Rast

Matt Savage

Isai Scheinberg

Bill Smith

Seven of the ten finalists are professional poker players. Lon McEachern and Norman Chad are nominated together for their work on poker broadcasts over the last 20 years. Matt Savage and Isai Scheinberg are the other two finalists who fall under the contributor category.

Six Nominees Likely Don’t Have a Realistic Shot

Taking a closer look at the list of finalists, there are always players that make the finalists list that don’t have a realistic shot of induction. This may be due to stronger candidates being available or a lack of worthy accomplishments.

Below are our takes on the following nominees:

Josh Arieh

While a successful poker player, Arieh’s continued nomination is more due to his performance in WSOP events in recent years than his overall resume.

Kathy Liebert

While a Women in Poker Hall of Fame member, Kathy’s poker contributions fall a bit short of qualifying for the main Poker Hall of Fame.

Mike Matusow

While a popular choice among some pros, Matusow has never shown the “consistency” that would typically be associated with Poker Hall of Famers.

Jeremy Ausmus

This is Ausmus’ first nomination, and it is rare that a first-timer not named Phil Ivey or Daniel Negreanu gets inducted.

Bill Smith

This is clearly a nomination from a living Poker Hall of Fame member. While Smith has a Hall of Fame-worthy career, he will unlikely get put in over other nominees this year.

Matt Savage

While many feel that Savage is a Hall of Fame-worthy contributor, it does not trump most other nominees on this list.

Only Four Have a Realistic Shot

Generally, we only give two nominees a realistic shot at induction, but this year has an interesting mix that muddies the water. Here are the four finalists we feel have the best shot at induction:

Ted Forrest

Of everyone on this list, Forrest is the best old-school pro not already in the Hall of Fame. He has garnered much support from Hall of Fame members and pros in the past.

Lon McEachern and Norman Chad

This is the 20th anniversary of Chris Moneymaker winning the WSOP Main Event and kicking off the Poker Boom. Lon and Norm were the voices that called most of the action at the WSOP for the last 20 years. We could see them being inducted to celebrate the last 20 years of the WSOP.

Isai Scheinberg

Scheinberg is the one name on this list that many feel should have already been inducted as a contributor. Most cannot deny his contributions to online poker, and many feel that poker would not be where it is globally today without him.

Brian Rast

This is our wildcard nomination. Rast ticks all of the boxes for Hall of Fame induction and is one of the more respected players in the game. Out of the younger players on the list of finalists, he has the best resume and chance for induction.

Ultimately, this year’s nod will go to either Ted Forrest or Lon McEachern and Norman Chad. Forrest has more support among the Hall of Famers, and if the WSOP does not exert much influence on the proceedings, he will likely finally get in this year.

Hall of Fame Voting Needs an Expansion

It is clear to most that the Hall of Fame nomination process needs to be revamped. Presently, only one person is inducted per year. This was reduced from two during the pandemic and was never changed.

There is a backlog of eligible candidates that are either overlooked or ignored due to the strict induction policies. Expanding the number of inductees to two per year would alleviate this problem.

Next, the Hall of Fame should consider a veterans committee similar to what is used by Major League Baseball. Many old-school pros and poker contributors get lost in the shuffle and will likely never get their recognition because of the ever-growing list of eligible candidates. Even if the committee only met every few years, it would afford eligible players and contributors another avenue of induction.

Rose Varrelli avatar
Rose Varrelli
Senior Casino & News Writer

Hi there! I’m Rose, and with nine years behind me in the iGaming industry, I craft engaging narratives at CasinoAus. My education in Communication across Europe has sharpened my skills in fintech, casino legislation, and digital marketing. Backed by a strong foundation in SEO, storytelling, and cross-cultural communication, I’m passionate about creating content that resonates globally and educates our audience.

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