The Poker Hall of Fame, curated by the World Series of Poker (WSOP) has announced the list of finalists for its 2015 inductees. Ten players have been nominated, from which two will be selected for inclusion in the Hall of Fame. Over the next two weeks, we’ll look at their stories and the cases for – and sometimes against – their inclusion.
Tournament poker is a high-variance game, so much so that it’s often hard to tell how good someone really is. Online players often log more tournaments in a year than a live tournament professional does in a lifetime, yet still often have losing months and even losing years. Public memory is short, however, and so we often find laurels being heaped upon players who are on a heater. Consistency is much more rarely acknowledged.
For that reason, many contemporary poker fans may not recognize the name Chris Bjorin. He hasn’t won the WSOP Main Event, he doesn’t play in the Super High-Rollers and his last final table was in a seniors’ event two years ago. He doesn’t even have a seven-figure cash: His best is a “modest” $334,110 win in a WSOP event dating all the way back to 2000.
Go looking for that result amidst his others, however – on Hendon Mob, for instance – and you’ll quickly see why he’s made the short list. He has a whopping 279 results in the database, dating back to 1989. Considering the WSOP alone, he’s cashed an average of nearly four events per year for the past decade.
As someone who had already established himself by the turn of the millennium, Bjorin was well positioned to ride the poker boom to fame, but refused to do so. His unwillingness to appear on television is as much a contributing factor to his low profile as the lack of peaks and dips in his tournament performance. He has also never, as far as anyone can tell, played online.
As an old-schooler, Bjorin is also much more experienced at other games than he is at No-Limit Hold’em. In a 2010 interview with CardPlayer, he admitted that he “still [had] a lot to learn” about Hold’em. Although he’s cashed many NLHE events since then, a disproportionate number of his results over the years have come from Omaha, Stud variants, mixed games and the like. He has also said that he prefers cash games to tournaments, so his total profit over the years is likely quite a bit in excess of his $5.5 million in tournament cashes.
Bjorin first made the short list for the Hall of Fame last year, which is interesting, as he appeared to have taken his retirement at that time, skipping the WSOP and without any other cashes on record for the year either. This year, however, he was back, with 6 cashes, his second best after seven in 2008. Perhaps it was his failure to get the nod last year which inspired him to dive back into the fray, but whatever the case, having put together a solid series this year certainly makes him a more likely pick the second time around.
As a candidate for the Hall of Fame, Bjorin is an interesting choice. His lifetime performance speaks for itself, yet he’s someone who has actively avoided the spotlight throughout his career. Whether or not he eventually makes it in will say something about whether the emphasis in the award’s title is on “Poker,” or “Fame.”
Alex Weldon (@benefactumgames) is a freelance writer, game designer and semipro poker player from Montreal, Quebec, Canada.