The poker industry is over 100 years old, and many individuals have never been recognized for their contributions to the industry. Many pioneers of poker need to be honored, and what better place than the new Poker Industry Hall of Fame.
The time has come for the creation of the Poker Industry Hall of Fame to preserve and honor those individuals that built the game of poker and established a framework for the players to achieve their dreams.
Today poker is accepted around the world, and I want to preserve its past for future generations by honoring those individuals who built and managed poker rooms, brought innovations to the industry or wrote about the game we all love.
When you think of what group of industry leaders who should be inducted into the Poker Industry Hall of Fame, the first 10 or so are no brainers. We can start in Los Angeles with the founders of the poker industry:
• Russell Miller, original owner of the Normandie Casino in Gardena, California.
• George Hardie, founder of the Bicycle Casino in Bell Gardens, which at one time was the largest card club in the world.
• George Tumanjan, one of the most loved and respected men in poker history, who founded the Commerce Casino.
• Larry Flynt, defender of the First Amendment, who loved poker so much he built his own poker club, the Hustler Casino, in Gardena, California.
In Las Vegas you have:
• Benny Binion and his son Jack Binion, the owners of Binion’s Horseshoe Casino in Las Vegas who created the World Series of Poker, the largest and most prestigious poker tournament in the world.
• Bill Boyd, the father of Las Vegas poker and legendary poker room manager of the Golden Nugget, and the person who gave me my first casino job.
• Steve Wynn, the visionary casino owner who took poker to the next level with his love of the game and its players.
• Bobby Baldwin, a world-class poker and gaming industry leader who never forgot the game that launched his career and who ensured poker was always showcased in Steve Wynn’s casinos.
• Lyle Berman, the successful businessman who loved poker so much he built a gaming company around it and financed the World Poker Tour.
There are so many other deserving individuals that need to be honored and inducted in the new Poker Industry Hall of Fame: Industry leaders like John Sutton of the Bicycle Casino and Jerry Stensrud of the Commerce Casino; Mike Caro, poker teacher and writer; Phyllis Caro Yazbek, the first female vice president of poker operations and Linda Johnson, the First Lady of Poker, who has dedicated her life to spreading her love of poker all over the world.
So many other people who deserve to be in the first Poker Industry Hall of Fame, such as writers Nolan Dalla and David Sklansky; Bruno Fitoussi, founder of the Aviation Club, who established poker in France; Jim Albrecht, who was the tournament director of the WSOP for over a decade; Doug Dalton, who managed the best poker rooms in the world; Eric Drache, the first poker executive host.
We can’t forget the casino owners Leo Chu, who owned three casinos in Los Angeles, and Haig Kelegian, who owns numerous casinos throughout California. The often-forgotten people of the media would be honored. June Field, the founder of Card Player magazine; Barry Shulman, current owner of Card Player; the late gaming media pioneer Stan Sludikoff; and the late Chuck DiRocco, founder of GamingToday, the oldest gaming newspaper in the U.S., along with his wife Eileen DiRocco, who carries on Chuck’s legacy by continuing to publish GT.
The first Poker Industry Hall of Fame has much work ahead of it to preserve the history of the game of poker and honor those who created it. I look forward to hearing from people in the poker industry with your input.