Two poker players who represent very different aspects of the game will be inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame this year.
Chris Moneymaker likely needs no introduction to the younger generation of poker fans who grew up playing online poker and watching WSOP broadcasts on ESPN. Moneymaker was, of course, the first online qualifier to win the WSOP Main Event.
Meanwhile, David Oppenheim is the definition of a pro’s pro. Oppenheim has over 25 years of experience playing poker and is renowned as a cash-game crusher who plays all the games. While he is primarily a cash-game player, he also plays the WSOP and has been cashing in the long-running series since way back in 2001.
Voting for the Poker Hall of Fame was performed by a 51-person panel that included a mixture of poker media and members of the Poker Hall of Fame.
Moneymaker Changed the Game Forever
It’s hard to quantify just how much Chris Moneymaker changed the poker world and brought online poker to the forefront by winning the 2003 WSOP Main Event.
Moneymaker was working as an accountant in Tennessee when he won a $86 satellite on PokerStars into the WSOP Main Event. He went on to win the $10,000 buy-in tournament for $2.5 million. His heads-up battle against Sammy Farha is arguably the most famous heads-up match in poker history.
The online poker market was already set to boom and Moneymaker pushed it over the top with his fairy-tale victory in the Main Event. The very next year, attendance in the Main Event exploded with more than three times the participants.
“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.
Moneymaker would go on to be an excellent global ambassador for PokerStars over the next decade and remains an important part of the company. He’s never recorded a score quite as memorable as his Main Event victory but he has made big ones in the NBC National Heads-Up Championship and the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure to bring his overall earnings up to well over $3 million.
Oppenheim Stands Test of Time
David Oppenheim is a living testament to the consistency of the best poker players in the world.
For over 25 years, Oppenheim has been competing with some of the best cash-game players in the world and — more times than not — ending up the Sportsbook.
“I have been so fortunate to be able to do what I love for a living,” he said.
“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.”
Oppenheim is primarily a cash-game player but that hasn’t kept him from finding success at the WSOP. He famously finished third in the 2010 WSOP Poker Players Championship for $603,348.
With Oppenheim and Moneymaker officially inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame, the eight other players on the ballot remain eligible for future induction. Those eight are Chris Bjorin, David Chiu, Eli Elezra, Antonio Esfandiari, Chris Ferguson, Ted Forrest, Mike Matusow and Huckleberry Seed.
This is the main criteria for the Poker Hall of Fame: