Carlos Mortensen, Todd Brunson Receive Poker Hall of Fame Accolades

Updated: October 13th, 2016 by Dev Ops

Carlos Mortensen and Todd Brunson are the latest inductees into the Poker Hall of Fame, according to a press release issued today by World Series of Poker and Poker Hall of Fame officials.  In what was rumored to be one of the closest “finalist” ballots in years, Mortensen, a/k/a “The Matador,” and Brunson will become the 51st and 52nd members, respectively, of the PHOF.

Poker-Hall-Of-Fame-logoThe induction ceremony honoring the two is scheduled for Wednesday, October 26 at 7:00 pm at Binion’s Gambling Hall, on Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas.  Binion’s — formerly Binion’s Horseshoe — is widely proclaimed as the “birthplace of poker” in Las Vegas; it was the original home of the World Series of Poker, where it ran from from 1970 to 2004, and was also a cash-game hub in earlier Vegas-poker years.

The PHOF’s induction ceremony and dinner returns to the Longhorn Room at Binion’s.  That room was formerly known as Benny’s Bullpen, named after Binion’s scion Benny Binion, and the room was long the hosting venue for important WSOP events.

The WSOP, via editor-in-chief Seth Palansky, offered up brief bios and quotes for the newly-elected pair of veteran players.

For Carlos Mortensen:


When it comes to tournament poker and ROI, no one besides Dan Colman can compare to Carlos “The Matador” Mortensen. The 2001 WSOP Main Event Champion has won more money on the World Poker Tour than any other player in history despite playing significantly fewer events. His almost $6.8 million in WPT earnings combined with over $3.1 million in WSOP earnings and assorted other cashes put his career earnings at almost $12 million. The 44-year-old is also the only player to have won both the WSOP Main Event and the WPT Championship event. Hailing from Alicante, Spain but now residing in Vegas, Mortensen is still one of the top players in the game, already cashing 12 times in 2016.

“I have been playing poker professionally for more than 20 years,” commented Mortensen. “This game has given me so many things that I have come to cherish. I’ve always wanted to be included among the great players who make up the Poker Hall of Fame. To be included with the legends makes me very happy. I want to thank my friends, the poker fans, and all the people who vote for me. I take this honor very seriously.”

And for Todd Brunson:


As the son of Poker Hall of Famer Doyle Brunson, Todd has followed in his father’s footsteps in making poker his profession, and there is no doubt the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Despite picking up the game for the first time while he was studying law at Texas Tech University, Todd eventually dropped out of school to turn professional. With nearly $4.3 million in tournament winnings, including 52 WSOP cashes and a gold bracelet, the younger Brunson has carved out his own successful career. The 47-year-old Las Vegan is best known for his mixed games acumen, choosing to spend most of his time playing cash games in Las Vegas and typically only playing tournaments that offer a variety of non-Hold’em variants. And as told in the 2005 book, The Professor, the Banker and the Suicide King, Brunson once won $13.5 million over a two-day span in a heads-up, $50,000-$100,00 Limit Hold’em cash game.

“It’s a true honor to be inducted by my peers into this prestigious institution,” said Brunson. “I literally grew up attending these ceremonies and have always respected and admired its members. To join their ranks is the honor of a lifetime.”

Mortensen and Brunson bested eight other finalists in ten-votes-per-voter election featuring 27 living Poker Hall of Fame members and 17 assorted poker-media people.  The other eight finalists in 2016 were Chris Bjorin, Humberto Brenes, Eli Elezra, Bruno Fitoussi, Chris Moneymaker, Max Pescatori, Matt Savage and David Ulliott.  Most of those finalists will likely return to the final ten in 2017.

While Mortensen’s election was well deserved (and long overdue), the enshrinement of the junior Brunson in his first showing as a finalist won’t do anything that actual PHOF enshrinement is adversely affected by bloc voting involving some of the older players already enshrined, centered on the whims and wishes of Todd Brunson’s father, Doyle Brunson.  The elder Brunson has been accused of forming such blocs to enable old-time cash-game friends to be elected in previous years, though whether such occurred to help the junion Brunson this time won’t ever be publicly known — the PHOF does not release detailed voting results.

Doyle Brunson did acknowledge today that he cast all ten of his PHOF votes for his son, though a little bit of nepotism familial fondness is, generally, the way of the world.  The junior Brunson does enjoy immense respect as a mixed-games specialist, particularly on the local Vegas poker scene, and was not the weakest of the ten finalists, subjectively judged.  Yet whether Todd Brunson should have been elected in 2016 instead of afew years down the road is undoubtedly poker’s topic du jour.

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