BLOG – Why World Series of Poker bracelets still matter

BLOG – Why World Series of Poker bracelets still matter

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

We all know that there is a vast difference between the ‘second generation’ of poker players who got into the game – primarily online – post-boom since Chris Moneymaker’s win in 2003 and those who have played for years before that. This applies to not only the style of play that the different groups employ at the tables but also their attitudes and reverence for certain aspects of the game.

For the former group, a World Series of Poker bracelet isn’t that big of a deal. They wouldn’t say no to winning one – who would? – but for them, or so they say, poker is about the money and a bracelet is just the trophy.

Patrik Antonius famously declared in an interview a few months before the 41st WSOP that the bracelets were “shitty” and that he didn’t personally care to win one. You can sort of see his point – it took James Bord over forty hours of play across five days to take down the WSOP Europe Main Event to win £830,401 ($1.31m USD approx.); in the same time period Patrik Antonius won more than $1,100,000 online playing for just a few hours a day.

In many ways Antonius is expressing the views of the online poker generation. Of course, I’m generalising here, not all players who took up the game since 2003 feel this way. But I’ve heard many, many people express similar sentiments – be they broke micro-stakes players on the Two Plus Two forums or high stakes cash players that could, if they set their minds to it, win a bracelet in their lifetimes. I used to agree.

Personally, I’m not a huge fan of tournament poker in general. That’s just me, I don’t have a lot of gamble in my heart unless I know I’ve got an edge so cash games are certainly the way to go in that regard; they cut out the variance associated with tournament poker quite considerably. I always saw WSOP bracelets as poker’s top prize, but only because that’s how they were recognised – the same way I realise that the winner of The X Factor is the automatic new pop superstar despite hating the programme, if that metaphor works.

But, as you may have read, I was blogging the World Series of Poker Europe £10,350 Championship event and when I saw James Bord’s pocket tens hold up to give him the bracelet I truly felt happy for the man. This is a guy who grinds cash games online and live but he was fighting tears when being presented with a so-called “shitty” bracelet. Obviously the £800,000 plus is great but you could really tell that Bord was honoured to be in poker’s upper echelons by strapping that gold around his wrist. The atmosphere was simply electrifying throughout the final table and there was a definite sense that the players were gunning for more than the money.

A bracelet isn’t an automatic sign that you’re a poker professional – no disrespect to a great and charitable man, but look at Jerry Yang. He’s not that great a player. But for those of us who love and live the game, a bracelet should be the highest honour you can receive. In short, James Bord’s face and the joy of his friends who knew what it meant to him made me realise that the WSOP bracelets are still important and relevant. Anyone who disagrees needs to watch someone win one.

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