LAS VEGAS (July 15, 2019) – The 2019 Poker Hall of Fame (PHOF) Class has its newest members as the man who ignited the poker boom Chris Moneymaker and noted poker professional David Oppenheim enter poker’s elite club.
Moneymaker and Oppenheim become the 57th and 58th individuals to be inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame.
The voting was cast by the 30 living Poker Hall of Fame members, and a 21-person media panel, it was announced today by the Poker Hall of Fame Governing Council.
Moneymaker and Oppenheim were inducted officially tonight as part of the live World Series of Poker Main Event final table coverage on ESPN.
"In the record-setting 50th year of the World Series of Poker, we are reminded how critical Chris Moneymaker has been to influencing recreational players to pursue their dreams and he will certainly be amongst the most important figures of all time,” said Poker Hall of Fame Governing Council member Ty Stewart. “Oppenheim is a pro’s pro and has finally received his long overdue recognition.”
The Poker Hall of Fame Governing Council would like to recognize and congratulate the other 2019 finalists, all whom remain eligible for future induction: Chris Bjorin, David Chiu, Eli Elezra, Antonio Esfandiari, Chris Ferguson, Ted Forrest, Mike Matusow and Huckleberry Seed.
"I'm very honored... very happy," says Moneymaker upon receiving the news. "It's great for my kids -- it'll be a cool thing for them to see when they grow up."
“Being recognized as one of the all-time greats by my peers is truly humbling and I am honored to have been selected to the Poker Hall of Fame, said Oppenheim.” “I have been so fortunate to be able to do what I love for a living. I never planned to be a professional poker player, rather it was a passion that became my job. People often ask me, how does one become a professional poker player? The answer is hard work and that goes for everyone that plays at the highest level. From the time I began playing I was incredibly passionate about poker and it led to me being able to travel this road that has been travelled by very few. Again, I am extremely grateful to be receiving this honor. Thank you.”
About this year’s inductees:
“This is beyond fairy tale,” said Norman Chad. “It’s inconceivable!” That was in 2003 and he was talking about an accountant from Tennessee who was playing in his first live poker tournament after winning his entry into the event in an online satellite for $86. But it wasn’t just any event. It was the world championship of poker, the 2003 WSOP Main Event, where first place was $2.5 million and ESPN cameras were everywhere. It’s often said that poker is divided into two eras, pre-Moneymaker, and post-Moneymaker. And that’s all because 43-year-old Chris Moneymaker was able to capture the crown in 2003 at age 27. With hole cards being shown on ESPN for the first time, viewers at home were enamored by the “Aww shucks Accountant” that bluffed and bullied back at the pros on that fateful 2003 run. What followed Chris’ victory was a Tonight Show appearance, wide media coverage and a boom poker had never seen before, aptly now called the “Moneymaker effect.” It’s inconceivable to find someone’s first live cash in poker come with a victory and world championship, but that is the case with Chris. He’s been juggling family and poker ever since, serving as one of the sport’s greatest ambassadors and cashing in tournaments every year since 2003. The Nashville, Tennessee native has now amassed $3.844 million in earnings, cashing 100 different times on four different continents. Suffice to say, Chris’ victory that day changed the course of poker history.
A Los Angeles cash game pro who resides in Calabasas, California, Oppenheim, 46 is considered one of the most feared cash game players in the game. While his tournament career shows $1,991,545 in career winnings, including his most notable moment in the 2010 WSOP Poker Players Championship where he finished third for $603,348. David’s career spans a quarter-century, in which he has gained proficiency in all the mixed games and continues to build upon his reputation as one of the savviest pros on the felt.
The Poker Hall of Fame, established in 1979, was acquired by Harrah’s Entertainment (now Caesars) along with the World Series of Poker in 2004. Though the Hall of Fame is virtual in nature, its membership includes poker's most influential players and other important contributors to the game. There are now 32 living members.
The main criteria for the Poker Hall of Fame are as follows:
- A player must have played poker against acknowledged top competition
- Be a minimum of 40 years old at time of nomination
- 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.
The entire list of 58 Poker Hall of Fame members includes (alphabetical):