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El Matador, Todd Brunson Join Illustrious Poker Hall of Fame

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Can you imagine doing anything well enough, for long enough, to be inducted into your respective field's Hall of Fame?

That's the sweet reward poker's Carlos Mortensen and Todd Brunson are enjoying today as they've been officially announced as the 2016 inductees to the Poker Hall of Fame.

Mortensen, of course, is most famous for winning the 2001 World Series of Poker Main Event - for what now seems like an astonishingly low $1.5 million.

But he's also amassed an incredible track record of major tournament success over the last two decades that includes one other WSOP gold bracelet and three World Poker Tour titles including the WPT Championship.

With $12m in career live tournament earnings Mortensen has a jaw-dropping ROI for someone who really plays a rather limited tournament schedule.

Born in Ecuador but growing up in both Denmark and Spain, Mortensen is also the first European player to be selected for the Hall of Fame.

He's lived in Las Vegas for a long time where he's done more than his fair share of time at the high-stakes cash-game tables as well.

Son of Doyle, First Father-Son Combo

The Las Vegas cash game tables have also been the bread-and-butter of the other 2016 inductee, Todd Brunson.

While the 47-year-old Brunson has an impressive $4.3m in career tournament earnings himself it's the high-stakes cash games where he's really cut his teeth over the years.

Principally a Limit Holdem specialist Brunson has pocketed millions in Vegas' biggest cash games - particularly from those against some of the biggest whales Vegas has ever seen.

Brunson was famously part of the group of pros who battled Dallas banker Andy Beal over an epic, multi-day session in 2001 chronicled in the exceptional 'The Professor, the Banker and the Suicide King" book by Michael Craig.

Brunson reportedly won $13.5m from Beal in Limit games over two days. He since beat Beal again for over $5m in rematch.

The Brunson name is, of course, synonymous with Todd's father Doyle, considered the "Godfather of Texas Holdem" and one of the original Road Gamblers who brought the game to Vegas. The 10-time WSOP bracelet winner was selected for the Poker Hall of Fame in 1988.

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Ulliott, Fitoussi Have to Wait

Brunson and Mortensen were picked from an original list of 10 nominees for this year as voted on by the public. Once the 10 finalists had been picked a final 44-person panel made up of media members and living Hall of Famers selected the final two.

Among the final 10, Chris Bjorin, Max Pescatori, Dave "Devilfish" Ulliott, Matt Savage, Bruno Fitoussi, Eli Elezra, Chris Moneymaker and Humberto Brenes were not selected, although they'll continue to be eligible each year.

Many were surprised both Moneymaker, who is credited for the gigantic poker boom of the early 2000s, and Ulliott, who passed away last year, were not selected.

Here is the Poker Hall of Fame criteria:

  • A gambler must have played poker against acknowledged top competition,
  • Played for high stakes,
  • Played consistently well, gained the respect of peers,
  • And stood the test of time.
  • Or, for non-players, contributed to the overall growth and success of the game of poker, with indelible positive and lasting results

Brunson and Mortensen will be offically made the 51st and 52nd members of the Poker Hall of Fame in a live ceremony at Binion's Gambling Hall in Las Vegas Oct. 26.

They will also be feted during the play down of the 2016 WSOP Main Event final table, set to run over three days from Oct. 30- Nov. 1.