The Poker Hall of Fame Governing Council has announced the Poker Hall of Fame Class of 2012 — Eric Drache and Brian “Sailor” Roberts. The two become the 43rd and 44th individuals to be inducted into the PHoF after being nominated by the public and voted in by a 36-person panel consisting of living Poker Hall of Famers and various members of the media.
“I’m not only surprised and honored to have been selected, I’m also a bit embarrassed considering the other nominees,” Drache said of his selection. “When Jack Binion and myself worked on creating the Hall of Fame, I never considered myself a potential candidate. I’m particularly happy for the family of Sailor Roberts. Sailor by everyone’s account, including my own personal observations, was a great player and played many games very well.”
Drache is known as an accomplished seven-card stud player and has made five WSOP final tables over the course of his career; however, he is even more well-known for his contributions to the industry. He served as tournament director for the WSOP from 1973 to 1988, developed the concept of satellites, helped establish the PHoF, and has served as cardroom manager for Bellagio, Mirage, and the Golden Nugget.
Roberts is best known as the 1975 WSOP Main Event champion and a member of poker’s old guard; in fact, he was a part of the famed Texas Road Gamblers alongside Doyle Brunson and “Amarillo Slim” Preston, who have both been inducted into the PHoF. Here’s what the WSOP had to say about Roberts:
"To anyone who knew him, Brian 'Sailor' Roberts was truly one of the ‘good guys’ of the game. Along with his poker skill, Roberts’ wit, charm and reputable integrity served him well in cementing his place as one of poker’s legends. A gambler at his very core, the 1975 WSOP Main Event champion grew up in the small town of San Angelo, Texas, where at age 12 he made his first winnings shooting dice while working as a caddie. After serving in the Navy during the Korean War, Roberts returned home to Texas, where he met Doyle Brunson and Amarillo Slim. The three traveled throughout the south and Midwest in search of poker games and became known as the famous “Texas Rounders,” whose exploits have been romanticized over the years in both film and literature. A pillar of poker’s old guard, Roberts was beloved by his fellow gamblers. The two-time WSOP champion also finished eighth in the 1982 WSOP Main Event won by fellow Hall of Famer Jack “Treetop” Strauss. Roberts passed away in 1995."
Roberts passed away in 1995, but his good friend and current Hall of Famer Crandell Addington spoke on his behalf: “In a time 50 years ago when poker players relied on luck, Sailor was developing sophisticated strategies that would enable him to make his own luck. At a time in which professional poker players were viewed as outlaws and poker was illegal, he formed a partnership with Doyle and Slim and they traveled across the country from poker game to poker game. They deployed advanced strategies unknown at the time that featured playing their opponents hands on many occasions rather than their own hands. More often than not, they got the money.”
Drache and Roberts were selected from a group of 10 finalists that include Chris Bjorin, David Chiu, Thor Hansen, George Hardie, Jennifer Harman-Traniello, John Juanda, Tom McEvoy and Scotty Nguyen, all of whom remain eligible for future induction. They were chosen based upon the following criteria:
- A player must have played poker against acknowledged top competition
- Be a minimum of 40 years old at time of nomination
- Played for high stakes
- Played consistently well, gaining the respect of peers
- Stood the test of time
- Or, for nonplayers, contributed to the overall growth and success of the game of poker, with indelible positive and lasting results.
Drache and Roberts will be inducted on Tuesday, October 30 at 3:30 p.m. at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas prior to the finale of the 2012 World Series of Poker Main Event. PokerNews will be on hand to bring you all the stories and hands from that event.
For more on this year's class, visit WSOP.com.
*Lead photo courtesy of Gaming.UNLV.edu