Two of poker's most heralded contributors will be getting their due. Professional poker player Barry Greenstein and the "First Lady of Poker" Linda Johnson will be inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame on Nov. 8 as part of the festivities that surround the World Series of Poker main event final table. Both individuals have contributed to the poker world in a great way and are very much deserving of this honor.
Greenstein is no stranger to poker fans around the world, thanks to consistently playing in the game's biggest events at the highest stakes, his charitable efforts and his skills on the felt. The 56-year-old left his job at the software company Symantec in 1991 and continued his pursuit for greatness on the felt.
From his very first WSOP event, where he finished 22nd, Greenstein was on his way to becoming an icon of the game. He's earned more than $7.5 million in live tournaments and is a three-time WSOP bracelet winner with 52 WSOP cashes and 14 final tables. His bracelets have come in three different disciplines: 2-7 draw, pot-limit Omaha and razz.
Greenstein has two World Poker Tour titles and 20 WPT cashes for $2.4 million in earnings.
His biggest lifetime victory came on the World Poker Tour as he defeated a field of 367 players to win the Jack Binion World Poker Open in 2004 for $1.2 million. Greenstein has always been prominent in the poker media and also wrote "Ace on the River," a best-selling poker strategy book. To this day, those who bust him out in a tournament receive an autographed and personalized copy of the book. With one exception, Greenstein was busted out by Ronin1085, and asked him to sign his book. Which to this day, he still holds dearly.
"I'm happy to be inducted into the Hall of Fame alongside my friend Linda Johnson, who has been the most fervent ambassador for poker for as long as I can remember," Greenstein said.
While Johnson may not have Greenstein's poker accolades, she is mainly responsible for much of the poker media that you consume. More generally, she's responsible for the fact poker media actually exists.
Johnson was introduced to the game nearly 40 years ago when she first taught herself to play. After finishing fifth in a seven-card stud event in 1980, she gave notice to her employer at that time, the United States Post Office, and headed to Vegas to play professionally. She won her first and only WSOP bracelet in 1997 in a $1,500 razz event and is currently one of only 15 women to have captured a title in a WSOP open event. She spent years grinding a living, before changing the industry as she took on the role of publisher at CardPlayer magazine in 1993.
Upon building the magazine's coverage and forming new relationships in the process, Johnson immediately became an ambassador for the game. From putting out poker's leading magazine at that time to writing books and teaching seminars, Johnson created an industry on her own. She is also a co-founder of the Tournament Directors Association, an organization that helps to provide standards for poker events around the world, and is currently on the board of the Poker Players Alliance and the Ladies International Poker Series. Additionally, she co-founded PokerGives.org, an organization that facilitates charitable donations by poker players.
Johnson was inducted into the Women's Poker Hall of Fame in 2008 and joins Barbara Enright as the only two women to be part of the elite group of 42 poker Hall of Famers.
"I am extremely proud and humbled to be voted into the Poker Hall of Fame," Johnson said. "I feel lucky to have been involved in many facets of poker over the past 35 years. Being recognized by the industry is a tremendous honor."
Each of the nominees who did not earn induction this year -- Annie Duke, Jennifer Harman-Traniello, John Juanda, Marcel Luske, Jack McClelland, Tom McEvoy, Scotty Nguyen and Huck Seed -- are still eligible in the future. Up to two players can be inducted per year.
The finalists were voted on by a 35-person panel made up of existing members of the Poker Hall of Fame and members of the media.
Greenstein was a no-brainer -- Johnson was a bit of a surprise -- but she did do a lot for the poker world over many years.