Fixing the Poker Hall of Fame Nominations Most Glaring Omission

With the public now able to submit nominations for the 2024 Poker Hall of Fame, there is one person that has never made it to the final list of 10 for consideration for induction despite having a stellar career that fits the criteria.

Lance Bradley
Jun 7, 2024

On Wednesday, the World Series of Poker officially opened the public nomination period for the Poker Hall of Fame. Through Sunday, June 16, poker players and fans have the opportunity to provide their input on who should be considered for induction this year. The ten most popular submissions are then vetted by WSOP officials and sent to the voters for one final vote. 

The criteria that the public and ultimately the voters are asked to consider when submitting names for consideration are well known at this point.

  1. Must have played poker against acknowledged top competition
  2. Be a minimum of 40 years old at the time of nomination
  3. Played for high stakes, consistently well, and stood the test of time
  4. For non-players, contributed to the overall growth and success of the game of poker, with indelible positive and lasting results

Sure, it feels like a little bit of a popularity contest, but by and large over the years the nomination process has regularly delivered a really good batch of finalists for the voters (the living members of the PHOF) to consider. WSOP Main Event champions Huck Seed and Chris Moneymaker, poker superstars Patrik Antonius and Phil Ivey, PokerStars co-founder Isai Scheinberg, and the WPT’s own Matt Savage have all been nominated through this process.

There has been one glaring omission, however.

Vince Van Patten.

Nobody is advocating Van Patten is worthy of nomination for his acumen on the felt. He loves to play and can hang at decent stakes, but even he would admit he misses the criteria for points #1 and #3 in comparison to some of the biggest legends the game has seen over the past 20 years. (We’re not going to get into his age here, but trust us – he just squeaks by the age criteria for #2) 

However, when you consider the criteria for #4, Van Patten has the resume necessary for consideration.

“Contributed to the overall growth and success of the game of poker, with indelible positive and lasting results”

Since the very first episode of WPT in 2003, Van Patten has been front and center on nearly every single WPT broadcast. There have only been three times where viewers tuned into a WPT event on TV and didn’t see Van Patten smiling back at them – and in one of those, Van Patten was playing. 

That’s more than 550 episodes and nearly 500 hours of televised poker (and counting) that have featured Van Patten. He continues to stand the test of time.

Given that only one nominee gets inducted each year, it’s an uphill battle for anybody to go from nomination to induction, which only serves to solidify the “it’s an honor just to be nominated” mantra that so many Oscar, Grammy, and Emmy nominations have uttered over the years. The voters will have their say on that, but anybody who’s enjoyed WPT broadcasts over the years now has an opportunity to put Van Patten’s name forward and let the chips fall where they may.

It’s not unheard of for a broadcaster to see their name amongst the final ten. WSOP stalwarts Lon McEachern and Norman Chad have made the 10 finalists as a pair three times over the last four years. Having worked together as the voices of the WSOP broadcast since 2003 (McEachern worked the event in 2002 with Gabe Kaplan and Phil Hellmuth), “Lon and Norm” are synonymous with the WSOP TV product and worthy of the honor of seeing their names alongside some of the game’s biggest legends.

And while Vince is synonymous with the WPT TV product, he also has some bonafides that only add to his potential candidacy. Before he joined WPT, he worked the 1998 WSOP Main Event for ESPN, calling the action on Scotty Nguyen’s victory. He also hosted one of the longest-running Hollywood home games that many believe was the predecessor to the game run by Molly Bloom and eventually featured in Molly’s Game.

Vince Van Patten interviewed Rounders stars Matt Damon and Ed Norton as part of ESPN’s 1998 WSOP Main Event coverage.

Somehow, Van Patten’s impressive career in poker is sometimes overlooked. His time in the poker broadcast booth predates anybody else’s in poker today. He’s been a part of poker broadcasting since before hole card cameras, before the poker boom, and before many of today’s top players – who are now becoming PHOF eligible themselves – were out of high school. That level of longevity alone makes him an icon of the game. 

Van Patten has undoubtedly contributed to the growth of poker by serving as an informative and entertaining guide through WPT broadcasts to audiences around the world. His passion for and love of the game has helped bring poker to more and more players with each broadcast. Now there’s an opportunity for the poker world to honor his energy and efforts with an avalanche of PHOF nominations. It would turn the glare of his absence from previous nomination lists into a well-deserved moment in the spotlight for one of poker’s most enduring figures. 

Poker fans can submit their ballot for 2024 Poker Hall of Fame nominations here.