The Poker Hall of Fame is the ultimate showcase of the greatest poker players in history. At least that’s the theory. In reality, the PHOF is a showcase of primarily American poker talent with only a handful of international players having been inducted thus far.
As poker fans and media alike are clamoring for the PHOF to become more inclusive, we are hopeful that we will soon see the first Australian poker player become a part of the Poker Hall of Fame. Today we look at three predominant Aussie poker players who should be included.
Jeff Lisandro started his career as primarily a cash game specialist but also has quite the tournament resume. The most impressive part about his resume is his six World Series of Poker bracelet wins. Four of his six bracelet wins come in variants of Seven Card Stud.
In 2009, Lisandro became one of only a handful of people to win the Stud Triple Crown by winning a bracelet in each variant of Stud played at the WSOP. That year, he won a Seven Card Stud, Stud 8 or Better, and Razz bracelet en route to winning WSOP Player of the Year.
In 2010, Lisandro won a PLO bracelet at the World Series of Poker Europe. He followed that up in 2014 with another PLO win at the now-defunct World Series of Poker Asia-Pacific. Lisandro nearly won his seventh bracelet in 2018, finishing runner-up in the $1,500 Stud Event.
When it comes to Seven Card Stud, there are few people in the world more feared than Lisandro. A large number of players with five or more WSOP bracelets are already in the Poker Hall of Fame and Lisandro should follow. He is already in the Australian Poker Hall of Fame and it’s likely just a matter of time before he finally gets the ultimate honor he deserves.
Mel Judah is an old-school poker pro with live tournament scores dating back to the late 1980s. Known as the “Silver Fox,” he enjoyed tremendous success pre-Poker Boom in events all around Las Vegas and won his first of two WSOP bracelets in 1989 when he won the $1,500 Seven Card Stud Event.
Judah also has major live tournament victories at now-defunct events such as the Diamond Jim Brady and the Masters of Poker. His highest-profile finish Pre-Boom came at the 1997 World Series of Poker. Earlier in the series, Judah won the $5,000 Seven Card Stud Event.
He then went on a run in the 1997 WSOP Main Event, ultimately finishing third. That was the same year that Stu Ungar won his third WSOP Main Event.
Judah was also one of the early stars of the Poker Boom after winning the 2003 WPT Legends of Poker and then making the final table of the Bellagio Five-Diamon World Poker Classic.
In recent years, Judah primarily plays in Australia and makes the annual excursion to the World Series of Poker. For his career, he has won $3.63 million. He is a player that epitomizes the “standing the test of time” qualification for the Poker Hall of Fame and someone that should soon get his place among the all-time greats.
In 2019, Chris Moneymaker was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame due in part to starting the Poker Boom in the United States. For Aussie poker players, Joe Hachem holds that same distinction. Hachem beat the odds and won the 2005 World Series of Poker and following that win, he became the face of Australian poker and online casino gambling, much the same as Moneymaker did in 2003.
Hachem quickly became one of the most beloved figures in Aussie poker as average fans looked to chase their dreams of poker immortality. His victory and advocacy for poker at live Australian casinos helped the game to grow and helped to turn Aussie Millions into one of the premier events globally, not just in Australia.
However, Hachem has enjoyed consistent success outside of his Main Event win. In 2006, he won the WPT Doyle Brunson North American Poker Classic Main Event for $2.2 million and his first World Poker Tour title.
He also went on to make multiple WSOP final tables, including a third-place finish in the $10k PLO8 Championship in 2019. Hachem has career earnings of $12.65 million.
Some will argue that Hachem deserves to be enshrined into the Poker Hall of Fame based on his time at the tables. However, if you combine his success at the tables with his advocacy for the game throughout Australia, he becomes a no-brainer. The Australian Poker Hall of Fame has already enshrined him, so now it is time for the primary Poker Hall of Fame to do the same.