The new members of the World Series of Poker’s prestigious Hall of Fame have now been announced, with Jennifer Harman and John Juanda becoming the 49th and 50th individuals to be inducted. They will be presented with the honour in a special ceremony to be held ahead of the World Series of Poker Main Event in November.
Harman and Juanda were selected from a shortlist of ten poker players that were nominated by the public, and decided upon by the existing Hall of Fame and members of the poker media. The induction of the two new members is due to take place in the Longhorn Room of Binion´s Gambling Hall, Las Vegas, where the WSOP first began in 1970.
Jennifer Harman is only the third woman ever to be included in the world´s most exclusive poker club, joining previous WSOP Hall of Famers Barbara Enright and Linda Johnson. Focusing her games in the poker capital of Las Vegas, Jennifer Harman is well-known for playing exciting high stakes cash games, and for achieving the accolade of being the first female poker player ever to win more than one WSOP bracelet in open events. She has successfully won an impressive $2.7 million in live poker tournaments. She has also been lauded for her generous philanthropy, founding the charity Creating Organ Donor Awareness and tirelessly raising millions for the Nevada Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The WSOP has deemed her an excellent ambassador for poker.
John Juanda, originally from Indonesia, is now the third Asian-born player to be inducted into WSOP Hall of Fame (after Johnny Chan in 2002 and Thuan “Scotty” Nguyen in 2013). Junta has achieved massive successes in the poker world; winning five WSOP gold bracelets, reaching WSOP final tables on 30 different occasions and winning over $17 million in poker winnings. Juanda has also ben successful outside of Las Vegas, winning the European Poker Tour’s Barcelona Main Event, as well as events in Asia and Australia. He was also a sponsored professional player for Full Tilt poker site.
Whilst many certainly applaud Harman and Juanda for their achievement, there are some dissenting voices raising the issue of the WSOP Hall of Fame’s continued lack of European players (or general lack of any non-Vegas players). The announcement that two more Las Vegas-based players are to be inducted into the WSOP Hall of Fame has incurred some criticism from the wider poker community, who have been hoping for a European player for years to be included in the list.
English professional poker player, Joe Beevers commented drily that, “there are zero living non-American’s in the Poker Hall of Fame”, and he has been joined by a number of other key influential poker figures in criticising the WSOP methods.
Among this year´s contenders were several excellent European players, such as Chris Bjorin, Bruno Fitoussi, Carlos Mortensen, Max Pescatori and the much-missed Dave Ulliott, who passed away earlier this year. Although the WSOP nomination process is initiated by a fair and public vote, the actual election process for winners is a somewhat more closed off and less democratic, many argue. Usually, members of the Hall of Fame and an equal number of poker media individuals were given ten votes to allocate to one or all of the 10 nominees; for 2015, it has been claimed that the number of media votes were reduced in favor of the Hall of Fame members.