WSOP Hall of Fame Welcomes Elezra as 2021 Inductee
The World Series of Poker took the opportunity of a special Hall of Fame Bounty event at the 2021 WSOP to announce the latest inductee to the Poker Hall of Fame.
The tournament was Event 79 on the schedule, a $1,979 buy-in No Limit Hold’em event in which members of the Hall of Fame played with bounties on their heads. (The 1979 number signified the year that the Hall of Fame began.) As that tournament got underway, Jack Effel announced that Eli Elezra received the most votes of any nominee this year.
With that, the Poker Hall of Fame grew to 60 members.
Anyone around the world is welcome to nominate people for the Poker Hall of Fame…during the open nomination window. This year, that took place from September 30 to October 14. There is a list of criteria that nominees must meet to be valid.
-Player must have played poker against acknowledged top competition.
-Player must have competed for high stakes.
-Player must be at least 40 years old at the time of nomination.
-Player must have played consistently well over time, gaining the respect of peers.
-Player must have stood the test of time.
When the window closes, someone at the World Series of Poker tallies the results and announces the ten qualified people who received the most votes. From that list, the always-mysterious Poker Hall of Fame Governing Council reviews the nominees and submits them to all living members of the Hall of Fame for their votes.
Elezra a Repeat Nominee
Some players and influential people in poker have been nominated for years but never received enough votes in the end to be inducted. Elezra was one of those people.
For example, in 2020, Huck Seed won his way into the Poker Hall of Fame with 76 votes. Second on the vote tally was Matt Savage, then Isai Scheinberg, and then Eli Elezra. This year, the WSOP didn’t reveal the final votes, but one thing was clear: Elezra won.
His competition on the nominee list in 2021 included many regulars, like Antonio Esfandiari, Chris Ferguson, Ted Forrest, Mike Matusow, Matt Savage, and Isai Scheinberg. Three new nominees this year were Michael Mizrachi, Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier, and the recently-passed Layne Flack.
Elezra was not a shocking winner by any stretch of the imagination. He is widely respected in the poker community, of which he has been a part for several decades. His first recorded tournament cash came in 1996, and to date, he has accumulated more than $4.5M in live tournament earnings. However, this doesn’t include the many years of cash games at various stakes – now at higher limits – and online poker, especially when he was a member of Team Full Tilt years ago.
Among his biggest tangible accomplishments in poker are four WSOP bracelets and a World Poker Tour title. He appeared on numerous televised poker shows and authorized a biography to be published several years ago. This year alone, Elezra won an 8-game mix tournament at the US Poker Open, final tabled the WPTDeepStacks Main Event in Las Vegas in July, and cashed in seven WSOP events, three of which were final tables.
A Special Day for Elezra
In an official statement provided by the WSOP, Elezra said, “I want to start by thanking all current living members of the Poker Hall of Fame for their kindness in selecting me to be bestowed with this honor. It feels so surreal to be back on the felt and playing with some of poker’s most influential players in person throughout this year’s tournament. I am so excited to take home this achievement today.”
On November 17, Jack Effel took to the microphone to speak to a ballroom full of poker players to announce Elezra’s induction.
Elezra took to the podium to tell a bit of his story, how his life took him from Israel to America, specifically Las Vegas. He thanked his parents and his wife, who were at the ceremony, children and other family members, and mentors Doyle Brunson and the late Chip Reese. And he expressed pride to be the first Israeli-American in the Hall of Fame.
“Everybody who knows me and has played a hand of poker with me knows how much I love this game. I’m 60 years old, and I’m happy to be the 60th member of the Hall of Fame. I’ve been playing six or seven days a week, and I plan to keep on playing many more years to come. … To Chip and Doyle, I cannot thank you enough for teaching this fish to swim with the sharks. … Behind the titles, the bracelets, the cash games, I’m a winner because I’ve made so many lifelong friends playing this wonderful game.”
Elezra beamed with pride, as did his friends and family members.
Poker Hall of Fame announcement https://t.co/AelR60JREg
— Kevin Mathers (@Kevmath) November 17, 2021