It’s one of the biggest honors in the poker world, and veteran player Eli Elezra is the latest to join the elite club and enter the Poker Hall of Fame.
With the World Series of Poker now wrapping up, it was about time for its newest member to join, and it’s only fair that the 61-year-old Elezra finally earns his place at the table.
Who is Eli Elezra?
Born in 1960 in Jerusalem, Israel, Eliahu Ilan Elezra (to give him his full name) is a professional poker player and businessman. Elezra had an interesting life in Israel, serving in the Israeli Defense Force before he was discharged after a leg injury in the 1982 Lebanon War.
Later, Elezra moved to the US and started working in the fish industry in Alaska. It seems like a far cry away from the Nevada desert and Las Vegas, but that’s where he got his start before he actually made the move to Vegas and eventually became the owner of a successful film development business. From there, he was able to focus on what he enjoyed – playing poker and working his way up to the highest cash games in Vegas luxury casinos, and becoming well-known on the tournament circuit.
Over the years, Elezra has taken away some generous cash winnings from tournaments, focusing on the Texas Hold’em and draw events. In 2004, he won the Mirage Poker Showdown for just over $1 million, and you can watch that here…
But perhaps Elezra is best known for ruling the roost in The Big Game – the legendary ongoing high stakes cash game at Bobby’s Room in the Bellagio. He was also a familiar face on TV shows like High Stakes Poker and Poker After Dark.
In all, Elezra won four World Series of Poker bracelets and has one of the best anecdotes in the history of the game. In the 2007 series, he made a side bet with 10:1 odds that he’d win a World Series bracelet. He bet $25,000 and won a quarter of a million dollars from this side bet – more than the actual prize money!
As one of the most successful names in poker, Elezra has certainly proven his worth. He has his own H.O.R.S.E poker table and an autobiography, Poker Legend, which sums up exactly what he is. So, it was only right that he was recognized for his career in poker and inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in 2021.
Poker is still a big deal in many Las Vegas casinos, although the Flamingo closed its poker room recently. With that being said, all casinos, whether live Vegas venues or online gaming platforms, still offer poker-related table games like Casino Hold’em, Caribbean Stud, and ever-popular Video Poker games. Pros like Elezra would not be so good at these poker-themed games because you play against the house, which has the house edge, rather than against other players.
Entering the Hall of Fame
Founded in 1979 by the owner of the Horseshoe Casino, Benny Binion, the Poker Hall of Fame is what it says it is – a hall of fame that recognizes and preserves the legacies of the greatest poker players and influencers in the world. Of course, it started out as a great tourist attraction but eventually snowballed into what it is today, especially after Binion created the first World Series of Poker. It’s now run by the WSOP, which has requirements for a player to earn their place in the hall. They need to have:
- Played poker against recognized top competition
- Played for high stakes
- Played well on a consistent basis and garnered respect from their peers
- Stood the test of time
- Be a minimum age of 40
This last point was put in after then 23-year-old Tom Dwan (he’s now 35) was a finalist due to public balloting. But if a player is old enough, skilled enough, and liked enough (as well as good enough), they can earn their place in the hall of fame.
Big Game Gets Rewarded
Obviously, he’s over 40 and has an impressive career in poker, so it’s no surprise that Elezra gets his place in the Poker Hall of Fame.
“Everybody who knows me and has played a hand of poker with me knows how much I love this game,” said Elezra during his induction at the World Series of Poker in the Rio casino, Las Vegas.
All the accolades are now going to Elezra, who, in his own words, has “finally made it.”