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WSOP Bracelets

What Do You Do With a WSOP Bracelet
by Chad Holloway of

Winning a World Series of Poker bracelet seems to be the ultimate goal of most serious poker players. They dream of playing on poker’s biggest stage, playing against the best, and taking home the championship. In addition to any cash they win, these tournament champions are reward with a bracelet which is symbolic of their accomplishment. This has been a tradition at the WSOP for over 40 years. Needless to say, winning a bracelet is a defining moment for most poker players. As such, you would imagine that these bracelets would be treasured or worn with pride; however, this is not always the case. In fact, you might be surprised what some past bracelet winners have done with their gold.

Most winners tend to store their bracelets away for safekeeping while many others wear theirs out and about. Some winners have shared their victory with their families. For instance, Phil Hellmuth has given many of his eleven bracelets to various family members. Meanwhile, Robert Varkonyi, the 2002 Main Event champ, took some extra links from his bracelet (it was silver that year) and had them made into a pair of earrings for his wife. All of these decisions are demonstrative of the player’s appreciation for the bracelet and are really understandable, if not touching.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are those players who don’t value their bracelet in the quite the same way. Hamid Datshmalchi, winner of three WSOP bracelets and the 1992 World Champion, once had a disagreement with Binion’s and claimed his bracelet wasn’t worth the $5,000 he was told, “They say it’s worth $5,000,” Dastmalchi said during a poker game, “but I’d take $1,500 for it.” Ted Forrest, who was sitting at the table, replied "Sold" and tossed him three $500 chips. Although it’s not an official bracelet win for Forrest, he still picked up a nice piece of poker memorabilia.

More recently, the poker news headlines were dominated by two bracelet-related stories. The first centered on 2009 WSOP November Niner Jeff Shulman, of Cardplayer fame. Shulman claimed that if he were to win the Main Event bracelet he would toss it in the trash. Many believe this stemmed from his feelings on the WSOP’s relationship with another poker publication, but as Shulman states: “My comments have nothing to do with that, and everything to do with my disappointment in how the World Series is run. It used to be run by people who loved and really cared about poker, and had the players in mind, first and foremost." Shulman failed to win the championship so whether or not he would have went through with his claim will never be known.

Another popular bracelet story revolved around a Plano, Texas pawn shop that put a WSOP bracelet up for sale on eBay. The bracelet had belonged to T.J. Cloutier for his victory in the 2005 $5,000 No Limit Hold’em event. No one knows how or why the bracelet was pawned, but what is known is that the Cake Poker Network purchased the bracelet for about $4,000 and stated they would return it to Cloutier

What a player chooses to do with his or her bracelet is totally up to them. As you can see, WSOP bracelets are not always shown the appreciation you might expect. All I know for sure is that if I were ever to win a WSOP bracelet, I would cherish it my entire life.


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