My Annual Plea to Get David Sklansky Nominated for the Poker Hall of Fame
Writer’s Note: The opinions expressed here are entirely those of Nolan Dalla. These views do not reflect the official position of the World Series of Poker, Poker Hall of Fame, Caesars Entertainment, or its staff.
Let me get something off my chest: IT’S A TRAVESTY THAT DAVID SKLANSKY ISN’T ALREADY IN THE POKER HALL OF FAME. OUTRAGEOUS. UNFAIR. MIND-BOGGLING ABSURD.
I’ll explain more in today’s article.
Nominations for the Poker Hall of Fame opened to the public some time ago. In fact, there’s still about two weeks left to nominate candidates to this year’s class. Poker players and fans from all over the world — over the age of 21 — may visit WSOP.COM and nominate any person they wish as a candidate for the Poker Hall of Fame — Class of 2013. Note that the nomination phase originally reported a closing date of August 15th. But now nominations are being taken through August 31st, which allows for the widest possible participation by voters.
The nomination process is only the first step towards selecting who will ultimately be enshrined as the Class of 2013. Usually, no more than one or two persons are inducted each year. I expect that precedent will continue.
After nominations are accepted and closed, the top ten nominees will be announced and placed on an official ballot. Those ballots will then be sent to a special voting committee, comprised of all existing Poker Hall of Fame inductees (living members) and established media members who have demonstrated a knowledge and commitment to the game over the years. As someone who has been intimately involved in this process from start to finish for more than a decade, I can tell you everyone takes this responsibility very seriously.
Persons who receive the most votes from voting committee will become enshrined into the Poker Hall of Fame — as the Class of 2013. The official induction ceremony takes place around the time of the WSOP Main Event Championship finale, to be held in Las Vegas in early November.
Fortunately, voters seem to have gotten it right in recent years. The most recent classes of inductees have been extraordinary. Mike Sexton (2009), Erik Seidel and Dan Harrington (2010), and Barry Greenstein and Linda Johnson (2011), as well as Eric Drache and Sailor Roberts (2012) were about as deserving a lineup of inductees as was possible — except for one glaring omission which I’ll address in a moment.
Three years ago, I had the great honor of giving the official induction speech for Dan Harrington. I consider that rare privilege to be one of the highlights of my career in poker. Last year, I did a similar speech for Sailor Roberts.
I put forth this background material in an effort to demonstrate how seriously I take the Poker Hall of Fame and how much I am determined to enhance the shrine to the game’s greats. That said, I hereby go on record to announce, promote, and advance the nomination of David Sklansky into the Poker Hall of Fame.
David Sklansky has done more for the game of poker, over a long period of time, than any person not already enshrined in the Poker Hall of Fame. He’s best known as a player and writer. But his contributions extend way beyond what he’s accomplished as a player or an author. Knowing Sklansky as I do, I believe he would most covet the title of being a theorist.
Indeed, Sklansky is a theorist. A thinker. An intellectual. A polemic.
Sklansky was the very first writer to approach poker as a science. He studied poker in the way a scientist toils in chemistry or physics. Over the years, his master works ELEVATED the game of poker and ADVANCED the concept of poker as a game of skill. In short, his approach to the game transformed poker from being just a casual recreational activity to a bona fide academic exercise, deserving respect.
Two works alone should qualify Sklansky as a serious contender for the Poker Hall of Fame. He wrote the first primer ever on Texas Hold’em during the mid-1970s, which was simply called “Hold’em Poker.” Nearly two decades later, he authored what is widely considered to be the best strategy book ever written, “The Theory of Poker.”
Overall, Sklansky has written 13 books so far — not just on poker but on other forms of gambling. However, all of his material has been extraordinarily unique in one way, which is his examination of situations which potentially offer positive expectation. Anyone who falsely claims “you can’t win gambling,” has never read David Sklansky.
Alas, Sklansky’s quantity and quality of writings alone give him enough credentials for serious consideration. But when one also considers what he’s done as a player and casino industry consultant, this clearly puts him over the top.
Here’s a partial list of David Sklansky’s poker accomplishments:
1. Has clearly stood the test of time, one of the requirements of induction. He has been active in the Las Vegas poker scene since the mid-1970s. That’s nearly 40 years.
2. Has been a successful cash game player for four decades.
3. Has won three World Series of Poker gold bracelets. He has many other cashes, although he’s not a tournament player.
4. Nearly $1.5 million in career tournament earnings, even though he only plays a limited number of events.
5. Well respected industry consultant to Lyle Berman, Bob Stupak, and many others.
6. Created and patented various casino games.
7. Highly-respected teacher and lecturer. Has given more than 100 strategy seminars over the years.
8. Wrote (or co-wrote) 13 books — ten of which were on poker. He has written books on virtually all variations — including Hold’em, Seven-Card Stud, Razz, small stakes poker, tournament strategy, and general theory.
9. Wrote the first strategy book ever on Texas Hold’em, called “Hold’em Poker.” Wrote arguably the best strategy book ever, “The Theory of Poker.”
10. Has a stellar reputation for integrity and protecting players.
A more personal note about David Sklansky: Let’s be clear. Sklansky is not a warm and fuzzy character. But induction into the Poker Hall of Fame should not be a popularity contest. I spoke to him about this during the 2012 World Series of Poker. We talked about his exclusion from the Poker Hall of Fame. Sklansky was not bothered by his omission in the least, which surprised me. In fact, he expressed no need nor desire to be inducted. Sklansky went on to mention that he probably deserved to be inducted many years ago (I agree), and has now pretty much given up on the process. He thinks his time has passed and no longer gives this much thought.
Sadly, most of the general public lacks the knowledge and awareness to make the right decision when it comes to David Sklansky, and some others too. By ”others,” I mean persons who have dedicated their lives to the game, but are not as well known. Of course, anyone who has any association whatsoever with the game in any way cannot deny the immeasurable contributions of this man.
And so, I urge you to do two things. First, go to WSOP.COM and nominate a candidate. Second, I urge you to at least consider nominating player, author, and consultant David Sklansky — the most deserving person of anyone I know into the Poker Hall of Fame — Class of 2013.
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