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World Poker Tour Names Linda Johnson First Recipient of WPT Honors Award

Recognized by virtually everyone in the industry as a pioneer in the world of poker, poker industry legend Linda Johnson has received nearly every accolade that can be handed out. That shelf of trophies and tributes will increase by one next week when the World Poker Tour honors Johnson with their first-ever WPT Honors Award.

“We are proud to present Linda Johnson with the inaugural WPT Honors Award,” said Adam Pliska, the Chief Executive Officer of the World Poker Tour. “The award represents WPT’s highest honor and will serve as a lasting tradition that allows us to recognize the most important people in our industry and in the WPT’s history. Linda played a unique role in helping shape the World Poker Tour, and she embodies all that the WPT stands for. In addition to her time spent with the WPT, Linda’s extraordinary contributions have helped better poker globally and her efforts have left lasting impressions that will forever impact our game.”

In her usually understated manner, Johnson quietly expressed her sentiments over receiving the honor on her Facebook page. “I am extremely honored to receive this award,” Johnson simply stated before adding, “Have I said lately that I LOVE poker? Thank you, WPT!”

The inaugural award, which will be given to those who represent outstanding contributions to the WPT and the poker community at large, is a natural to end up in the hands of Johnson. Along with being the first tournament director of the WPT and an announcer at their events, Johnson was integral to the actual birth of the poker circuit. Many of the tournaments that are now staples on the WPT Main Tour schedule are there because of the tireless efforts of Johnson, who organized the meetings that brought together the WPT founder Steve Lipscomb and casino mogul Lyle Berman with the casinos who hosted the biggest events in the game.

But Johnson’s efforts in the game go beyond what has been seen on the WPT circuit. The holder of a World Series of Poker bracelet (1997, Seven Card Razz), Johnson published CardPlayer Magazine for eight years before selling the business to Barry Shulman in 2001. After selling what is recognized as THE major magazine publication in the poker industry, Johnson moved on to make her impact in another area, player conduct in poker rooms.

Fighting against dealer and player abuse, Johnson was the founder of the Tournament Directors Association alongside other industry legends Jan Fisher, Matt Savage, and David Lamb in 2001. Since then, that organization has gone on to become the overseer of tournament rules that are used in hundreds of casinos around the world. As the Poker TDA was beginning to take off in the mid-2000s (along with her work in the WPT), Johnson would add another feather to her cap in becoming the chair of the Poker Players Alliance and, most recently, continuing her work with that organization as a member of its Board of Directors.

The WPT Honors trophy will go along nicely with the other awards on Johnson’s mantelpiece. A member of the inaugural class of the Women in Poker Hall of Fame in 2008, Johnson joined her fellow WiPHoF classmate Barbara Enright in the Poker Hall of Fame in 2011, becoming at that time only the second woman ever inducted into that prestigious Hall. The duo is also both members of the Seniors Poker Hall of Fame.

Hopefully the WPT Honors will have a better history than another endeavor that was meant to honor the greats in poker.

In 2004 (soon after its birth), the WPT created the WPT Walk of Fame at the Commerce Casino in Los Angeles. Utilizing the same idea as Grauman’s Chinese Theater – in which honorees would be immortalized through their handprints, foot prints and possibly other recognizable features – inductees into the Walk of Fame sunk their extremities into cement for posterity. The inaugural class that year included the legendary Doyle Brunson, Gus Hansen (who was a terror in the inaugural season of the WPT), and actor James Garner (who portrayed cardsharp Bret Maverick in the television series Maverick). Unfortunately, the WPT Walk of Fame seems to have never caught on. There hasn’t been another person inducted into the WPT Walk of Fame since that inaugural class more than a decade ago.

Johnson will be given the inaugural WPT Honors award on February 27 at a dinner attended by her family and close friends. Congratulations to Linda Johnson for just the latest in the litany of honors that she so aptly deserves!

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