Earlier tonight, I had the great honor of emceeing this year’s annual Poker Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
I’m deeply grateful to Ty Stewart and Seth Palansky (from Caesars Entertainment) for being chosen by them to host the event and for being permitted to stand along with so many poker legends, both past and present.
The Class of 2014 was comprised to two inductees — Jack McClelland and Daniel Negreanu. Both of these exceptional gentlemen have contributed to the game immensely in different ways — McClelland primarily as a tournament official and industry leader, and Negreanu as a poker player and ambassador. I was pleased to see quite contrasting individuals honored in this way, which reveals there are many ways to be successful, have an impact, and make the game better. Both honorees have done exactly that, and more.
The night was made even more special because we all returned to the hallowed “place that made poker famous” (that’s the casino’s catchy tagline). Binion’s Gambling Hall (formally Binion’s Horseshoe) rolled out the red carpet for everyone who attended, hosting the gathering inside what used to be known as Benny’s Bullpen. Now, it’s called the Longhorn Room. My deepest thanks goes to Michelle, Paul, Jerry, Brad, and all the other fine people working at Binion’s who helped put the evening together, and who keep the tradition alive.
A reporter recently asked me, “who’s the greatest poker player of all time?”
My answer was — it depends on how we define “greatest.”
Are we judging raw talent? Are we counting the most money won over a lifetime? Are we comparing the most accomplishments and accolades? Are we measuring longevity? Are we weighing popularity? Or, should we define “greatest” by all these things?
Bingo. That’s my final answer. All these things — talent, money, accomplishments, accolades, popularity, and longevity — should merit serious consideration.
By these criteria, when it comes to determining the greatest ever, I don’t know how anyone could argue any poker player, past or present, other than Doyle Brunson. The documentation in support of Brunson from the mid-1950s to the present is so self-evident, that the far more interesting debate should be — who is the poker player most likely to follow in “Texas Dolly’s” footsteps and eventually match his legacy?
Again, I think the evidence here is pretty self-evident.
My vote would go to Daniel Negreanu.
Even if you didn’t know Joe Sartori by name, you still knew him.
He was the kind of guy who was always there for everyone. He was the person who watched over those he cared about. Some people in life are just like that. They’re called guardian angels.
Joe was steadily dependable, unwaveringly so, always there when you needed a favor or just a helping hand. He never took credit for anything, and even displayed an endearing social awkwardness when receiving praise. He shied away from the public spotlight, and instead was seemingly far more comfortable with trying make others look and feel good. He was a doer, not a talker. He believed in actions and results.
Joe was a gentle soul, who worked hard, and loved life. He was best known for his tireless and often varied work within the poker industry. He started out at Palace Station and later the Palms, in Las Vegas. Joe also worked at Casino Morongo, near Palm Springs. For the past two years, he worked exclusively at the television show, “Poker Night in America,” owned by Rush Street Gaming.
Yesterday, Joe passed away at the age of 55, which goes to show that life just isn’t fair sometimes. Most of us never had a chance to say our goodbyes.
Note: The following is provided for information and discussion purposes only. I do not encourage nor endorse any gambling site or wagering on the World Series of Poker final table, or any other poker event.
Bovada Sportsbook has released odds on this year’s “November Nine.” These are the remaining players still in the hunt to become the 2014 world poker champion.
A few interesting things about these odds and my personal thoughts (not to be taken as the basis for any wager):
Earlier today, the Poker Hall of Fame governing council announced the selection of two individuals for induction as the “Class of 2014.”
The latest inductees are Jack McClelland and Daniel Negreanu. They will be officially welcomed into the prestigious ring of honor on November 9th, one day before the World Series of Poker Main Event Championship (final table) is played.
Induction into the Poker Hall of Fame is the game’s supreme honor. To date, only 48 persons have been selected in the 35-year history of the exclusive fraternity. Of these honorees, 23 are still living.
This marks the first year that I wasn’t part of the governing council. However, I did have a vote in the process and casted my ballot. The choice from among the ten nominees was a difficult one to make, which was taken very seriously. I see virtually all the ten nominees as being worthy of consideration and expect that some of them will be inducted in the years to come.
In the end, the living Poker Hall of Fame members, along with key media people voted and selected two truly outstanding poker professionals. I am thrilled with this year’s class, and look forward to congratulating them personally when the official induction ceremony takes place. I also have the great honor of serving as emcee at the event, which will be held at Binion’s Gambling Hall, the site of so much poker history and so many memories.
To Jack McClelland and Daniel Negreanu — well done! You both deserve it!
Here’s the official press release which came out earlier today, from Seth Palansky at Caeasars Entertainment: