Eli Elezra, an Israeli-born high-stakes legend, is the 60th member of the Poker Hall of Fame, joining the likes of Doyle Brunson, Stu Ungar, and Daniel Negreanu in poker’s most exclusive club.
The World Series of Poker revealed the 2021 winner prior to the start of Day 2 of the final table of the Main Event Wednesday afternoon.
Last month, the WSOP asked fans to nominate eligible candidates for the 2021 class. Industry giants Matt Savage and Isai Scheinberg, two of the most important and influential members of the poker community away from the felt in history, were chosen. The players nominated were Mike Matusow, Michael Mizrachi, Layne Flack, Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier, Antonio Esfandiari, Chris Ferguson, Ted Forrest, and Elezra.
Following the fan nominations, the current members of the Hall of Fame then had an opportunity to cast their ballots based on those fan selections. When all the votes were tallied, Elezra came out on top and the others must now wait until next year for another opportunity.
“Amazing, amazing, thank you,” a grateful Elezra told PokerNews when asked how it felt to be inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame after all these years. “For me to be alongside Phil Ivey and Daniel Negreanu, Phil Hellmuth, and (Barry Greenstein), and even (Jack McClelland) and (Mori Eskandani), all those people…I finally made it.”
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Strazynski Proud of Fellow Israeli
Savage, the World Poker Tour’s Executive Tour Director, told PokerNews last week that it would mean bunches to him to reach the Hall of Fame. He’s been nominated six times, but no luck thus far.
“I’m happy for Eli,” Savage told PokerNews when he was informed Elezra was chosen as the 2021 inductee.
Robbie Strazynski, the founder of Cardplayer Lifestyle, who lives in Israel, was ecstatic to discover his good friend is the newest member of the Poker Hall of Fame.
“Eli Elezra has long been Israeli’s national poker hero,” Strazynski told PokerNews. “I believe I can safely speak for my fellow Israeli poker lovers and fans in saying that we couldn’t be more proud to have him as our country’s first ever representative in the Poker Hall of Fame.”
Deserving of the Recognition
Eli Elezra is a four-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner with $4.6 million in live tournament cashes. His last bracelet came in 2019 in Event #20: $1,500 Seven Card Stud. During the 2021 WSOP, he’s cashed in seven events and has reached three final tables.
Although Elezra has some outstanding results as a tournament player, that isn’t where he excels the most. The 60-year-old Las Vegas resident has earned the respect of his peers, one of the main criteria for Poker Hall of Fame induction, as a high-stakes cash game player. He’s competed in the biggest games in Las Vegas for more than 20 years.
The former Full Tilt Poker pro appeared numerous times on popular TV cash game shows such as Poker After Dark and High Stakes Poker during the poker boom era.
Prior to becoming a professional poker player and moving to the U.S., Elezra served in the Israeli Army. He was discharged following an injury during the 1982 Lebanon War.
The newest member of the Poker Hall of Fame is also an author, having written an autobiography titled, “Pulling the Trigger,” in which Strazynski was hired to translate into English.
“On a personal note, I am so tremendously happy for Eli to have gotten inducted,” Strazynski said. “It’s the kind of recognition he has worked his entire career to earn.”
Looking Ahead to the 2022 Poker Hall of Fame
Next summer, the WSOP will enshrine a new member as part of the 2022 Poker Hall of Fame class. Who it will be is anyone’s guess at this point, but the nine individuals who came up short this year will have another opportunity to get in.
Assuming the WSOP continues with the same process for inducting a new member, those nominated in 2021 will again have to make it through a round of fan voting before advancing to the final stage — current HOF member voting.
In 2020, the WSOP cut the annual selections in half, and now only inducts one member. Those who missed out this year will have some new competition with Brian Rast and Anthony Zinno turning 40, the minimum age required for induction into the Poker Hall of Fame.
Rast, who won his fifth bracelet last month, recently told PokerNews that he not only wants to become the 2022 inductee, but also believes he’s the most deserving eligible candidate.
Current State of the Poker Hall of Fame
There are now 60 members of the Poker Hall of Fame. Huck Seed, the 1996 world champion, was inducted last year.
Here are the criteria for consideration in the Poker Hall of Fame:
- A player must have played poker against acknowledged top competition
- Played for high stakes
- Be a minimum of 40 years old at the time of nomination
- Played consistently well, gaining the respect of peers
- Stood the test of time
- Or, for non-players, contributed to the overall growth and success of the game of poker, with indelible positive and lasting results
Here are the current members of the Poker Hall of Fame:
|Tom Abdo||1982||Barry Greenstein||2011||Johnny Moss||1979|
|Crandell Addington||2005||Jennifer Harman||2015||Daniel Negreanu||2014|
|Bobby Baldwin||2003||Dan Harrington||2010||Scotty Nguyen||2013|
|Billy Baxter||2006||Murph Harrold||1984||David Oppenheim||2019|
|Lyle Berman||2002||Phil Hellmuth||2007||Henry Orenstein||2008|
|Joe Bernstein||1983||John Hennigan||2018||Walter “Puggy” Pearson||1987|
|Benny Binion||1990||James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok||1979||Julius Oral Popwell||1996|
|Jack Binion||2005||Red Hodges||1985||Thomas Austin “Amarillo Slim” Preston||1992|
|Bill Boyd||1981||Edmond Hoyle||1979||David “Chip” Reese||1991|
|Doyle Brunson||1988||Phil Ivey||2017||Brian “Sailor” Roberts||2012|
|Todd Brunson||2016||Linda Johnson||2011||Huck Seed||2020|
|Johnny Chan||2002||Berry Johnston||2004||Erik Seidel||2010|
|T.J. Cloutier||2006||John Juanda||2015||Mike Sexton||2009|
|Nick Dandolos||1979||Jack Keller||1993||Jack “Treetop” Straus||1988|
|Eric Drache||2012||Jack McClelland||2014||Dewey Tomko||2008|
|Barbara Enright||2007||Felton McCorquodale||1979||David “Devilfish” Ulliott||2017|
|Mori Eskandani||2018||Tom McEvoy||2013||Stu Ungar||2001|
|Fred “Sarge” Ferris||1989||Chris Moneymaker||2019||Red Winn||1979|
|Henry Green||1986||Roger Moore||1997||Sid Wyman||1979|
|T “Blondie” Forbes||1980||Carlos Mortensen||2016||Eli Elezra||2021|
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