I remember back in 2008 when the Women in Poker Hall of Fame (WiPHoF) was first forming. I thought that it was a fantastic concept and gave it as much press as I could in my PokerJunkie.com columns. When Barbara Enright, Linda Johnson, Marsha Waggoner, and Susie Isaacs became the first four inductees, I had high hopes for the organization and looked forward to its future.
Over the last 10 years, I’ve followed closely and have watched many influential women in poker inducted. In 2016, I was asked to join the media panel. Unfortunately, I somehow missed the email and discovered it two days after the voting closed. So this was the first year I had an official vote on the panel.
I am honored to have had the chance to vote for this year’s class and am proud of the ladies who were selected for induction. With that said, I feel that it is time that the WiPHoF expands to become an annual event so as to begin clearing the backlog of qualified candidates that’s starting to form.
Soto and Ho Get the Nod
It’s a bit surprising that it took 10 years to induct Lupe Soto into the WiPHoF, but I’m glad to see that it finally happened. There no mistaking the impact she’s had on women’s poker. We will probably never know the number of women who took up the game or upped their game to the next level thanks to her efforts.
Maria Ho receives induction in her first year of eligibility, and it’s hard to argue against her nomination. Her on-felt accomplishments are undeniable, with over $2.7 million in career earnings, multiple WSOP final tables and three deep Main Event runs (including her sixth place WSOPE run in 2017.) Couple that with her accomplishments as a broadcaster and presenter and she has left a legacy of positive influence on the game worthy of enshrinement.
Some people would take the opportunity to argue their case on why they felt a particular nominee was snubbed. Instead, I’ll point out why both women best fit the ideals of the Women in Poker Hall of Fame:
The WiPHoF isn’t just about the best female players but rather also about those who have had a lasting impact on women in poker. Considering their many years of work, it is hard to argue that they should not be this year’s inductees.
Time To Make WiPHoF Inductions an Annual Event
In past years, my decision on who I felt should or should not be in the WiPHoF seemed pretty straightforward. This year, things were not so simple. I had arguments for giving votes to up to six nominees, but ultimately whittled it down to three (Ed. note: each member of the voting panel is allowed to split 10 votes among as many nominees as they like).
If this year proves anything to me, it is that there are plenty of deserving women that belong in the WiPHoF, so much so that perhaps it is time to begin annual inductions into the hall. Personally, I have been advocating yearly selections for the last four years.
In 2016, I wrote an article on PokerUpdate.com entitled “9 Women That Deserve to Be in the Women in Poker Hall of Fame.” Two of those women have since been inducted. Four of those women didn’t even make the list of finalists this time around. Include the nine that didn’t make it this year, that’s at least 13 deserving women, or more than “six years worth” of annual inductions.
Plus, there are over a half dozen finalists from past years, such as Ruth Hall, Donna Blevins and others who also merit future consideration.
Also, let’s not forget that numerous other women will become eligible in coming years. Vanessa Selbst and Liv Boeree both turn the minimum qualifying age of 35 in 2019. Vanessa Rousso turns 35 in 2020. Then you have future potential WiPHoFers including Loni Harwood, Kristen Bicknell, Annette Obrestad, and others.
That’s not even considering other prominent women of poker’s past or industry and media professionals, many of whom appeared on this year’s list of nominees. In short, there’s no shortage of women to induct, so let’s get started!
WiPHoF Founder Agrees!
My sentiment regarding the WiPHoF is not just some talking point that I use to try and create buzz. Instead, I have had multiple conversations in the past with WiPHoF founder and 2018 inductee Lupe Soto.
Like I’ve done for the past few years, I once again revisited the idea of annual inductions following Tuesday’s announcement, and this is what she had to say:
I do believe we’re approaching the time where the Hall can be an annual event. There are now an adequate amount of women who are qualified to be inducted.
This is a transitionary time for the Women in Poker Hall of Fame, and these kinds of questions and thoughts are important as we move forward.
Much like the WSOP-sponsored Poker Hall of Fame, the WiPHoF is beginning to get a bit of a backlog of qualified candidates, and it is time that the hall expands and starts honoring these women on an annual basis.
I find it promising that both PokerStars and 888poker stepped up to sponsor this year’s event. Celebrating women in poker is something that the industry as a whole should do, and I applaud both companies for supporting and celebrating women in poker.
I’d love to see them continue to sponsor the WiPHoF and help the organization grow and become the annual event it deserves to become.
Whether the event becomes an annual event or stays on the present two-year induction cycle, I look forward to seeing what the future holds for the WiPHoF as it continues to enshrine elite women in poker.
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