Your source for poker information, culture, and community
Views: 1372
Date Posted: Jun. 27, 2:30am, 0 Comments

Each day I wake up and write about poker pros toiling long hours at the World Series of Poker or some poker tournament around the world. But that isn't reality for most of you reading this. We don't travel the world playing live poker for hundreds of thousands of dollars. At least I don't. I'm an amateur U.S.-based internet poker player. I've always been that and I like it that way. I don't want playing poker to take over my life, nor do I want it to disappear completely like it has for the last ten weeks.

I work for a living (if you can call writing all day about poker a living) and I enjoy playing online poker at my convenience when I find some down time. I enjoy the flexibility to play at micro-limits or whatever my online bankroll allows (i.e using responsible bankroll management so I never have to re-deposit). I like wearing what I want, making whatever gesture I want, listening to whatever music I like, while eating or drinking what I like as I play. I don't want to drive to a casino, deal with people and staff I don't want to deal with, and play slow live poker. I get my socializing in away from the poker table where I don't feel the added pressure of winning or losing money to strangers or especially to my friends.

On Friday, I learned that the latest and most positive sounding attempt to return me to playing online poker again was initiated. Rep. Barton (R-Tex.) introduced the Internet Gambling Prohibition, Poker Consumer Protection, and Strengthening UIGEA Act of 2011. The number that jumped out at me and created the inspiration for this blog was Barton's call for a 180 day period, once signed by the president, for the three government agencies (i.e. Secretary of Commerce, the Secretary of the Treasury, and Director of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network) tasked with regulating and enforcing federal gambling policy to complete their amendments and prescribe final regulations before licensing begins. So while I understand that passing the bill through congress and having it signed by the president could take 6 weeks, 6 months or never happen at all, if/when it's passed the soonest that new poker sites could be licensed would be 180 days later.

Now let's take that 180 days figure and convert it into degrees. Starting from the point on a metaphorical "circle of your ability to play online poker", you navigate exactly half-way around the circle to the opposite side of the circle. You are now back on the same plane (i.e. being able to play poker) but your perspective and relative position has change dramatically. That is the metaphor I am creating to describe the new environment that U.S. online poker player will find ourselves.

While, if successful, the Barton bill will make online poker fully legal, licensed and regulated, it will not be the same online poker that we've known over the last few years. According to the bill in its present draft status, which will likely see some revisions as it makes its way through Congress, here are some of the changes to which we will need to adjust.

1. Online poker will no longer be a global game - Although not explicitly banned as in the Reid Bill, it is presumed that in order to pass Congress U.S. poker players will be segregated from the former fairly open world pool of players that we've become accustomed to playing. No longer will there be country flags flying amongst our tournament and cash game opponents. Our competition will be focused on domestic opponents exclusively, missing out on the richness of style and experience that comes with playing against players from across the globe.

2. Individual states can opt out - This will open up a whole new battleground where each of the 50 states must decide for themselves if online poker is to be allowed for their residents. States like Washington who have already made it illegal may maintain that stance despite the new legislative environment. Individual state populations will have to wrestle with the issue, although I suspect that federal regulation and the opportunity for increased revenue possibilities will sway most states if state's concerns are managed.

3. Cheating opportunities should be lessened - While this is an area that hasn't yet been defined closely, the goal is to create an industry wide higher threshold of what constitutes cheating. The plan is to incorporate significant fines for violators with the goal to remove issues of bots and collusion. Issues like HUD's, special poker software, data-mining and tracking software aren't explicitly detailed in the legislation yet. A higher standard to combat cheating would be a big positive restoring confidence to many fearful and concerned players, but there are still many gray areas that need to be addressed to fully remove the specter of cheating from online poker.

4. Big established gaming companies will own and run the new sites - Gone are the days of unknown poker rooms, skins, and start ups with an unproven history offering online poker. The initial licensed poker sites will be run by large gaming entities that are already well established in the U.S. (i.e. Caesars, MGM etc.). After the first two/three years, the requirements for licensing can be amended to allow for smaller or less established entities to be licensed. While the creativity, innovation and flexibility coming from these larger corporations creating poker sites might be less than we've come to expect, their bigger size and financial stability along with greater overall safety and security should be a boon to all players.

5. No one under 21 can play online poker - Online poker has always been fueled by a youthful core of under 21-year-old players, who some might argue have been most adept at taking advantage of the online dynamics like speed, dexterity, concentration and stamina involved in many hours of mass tabling online. Many of today's most successful poker players honed their skills and developed their games well before their 21st birthday. At this point, I'm not sure how effectively the new regulations will be able to enforce the minimum age of 21 provision, but there are already specifications in the bill that when caught, underage players would not be able to collect any winning and yet be responsible for any losses. If effectively blocked, removing all players under 21 from the player pool could significantly affect current play and damage prospects for developing future U.S. talent on a similar pattern as has been in place since the Moneymaker effect.

6. Problem gambler self-exclusion strengthened - For the minority of players that have trouble controlling their play, the bill will allow players to self-exclude themselves for various time periods, going so far as to create a master list for those who choose that would excluded them from all licensed sites at once.

7. More American gamblers and players playing poker - As the only legislated and regulated form of online gambling, poker should get a large boost from all types of American gamblers who will look to avoid tougher policing of other forms of online gambling while embracing the heavily promoted new "sport of gamblers.". Once given Federal permission and support, much as happened with state lotteries, poker will become more socially accepted and heavily promoted and marketed to the general public which should lead to a broader range of U.S. players to embrace the game.

8. No child support delinquents - People who owe money for child support would not be allowed to play online poker on licensed sites. Similar to underage players if they did manage to play, they would be responsible for any losses but would not be allowed to collect any winnings if caught.

9. No credit cards to be used for funding accounts - The bill, as presently written, would explicitly ban the acceptance of credit card payments by licensed online poker sites. It would further ban the licensed poker sites from accepting deposits from a payment processor that accepts credit card payments. Protecting the possibility of poker players funding accounts with money they don't already own is a big priority for supporters of UIGEA. It will have some limiting effects, but in the end it should only encourage other funding options like direct deposit, Paypal, and possibly debit cards to be prioritized and developed.

Without a doubt, the player pool and dynamics of the newly legislated and regulated U.S. online poker environment will be different than what we have become accustomed to over the last few years. Using my overly simplistic metaphor, I am eagerly awaiting the opportunity to shift 180 degrees in 180 days to the new poker world.

Rep. Joe Barton, playing the part of a confident Washington politician well in drumming up optimism in the press and poker community has indicated that if he can get his online poker bill to a vote, it will pass.

"I think this bill is going to benefit from a lot of spade-work that's been done the past two or three Congresses," said Barton, a senior member of the House's energy and commerce committee. He explained that the bill has 11 co-sponsors including seven Democrats.

"We're going to try to get a bill on the president's desk in this Congress," Barton said.

Views: 1505
Date Posted: Jun. 20, 3:00pm, 0 Comments

As Rep. Anthony Weiner's resignation last week demonstrated for the umpteenth time, public individuals are not typically brought down by their misdeeds, but rather their attempts to deny and cover up for their misdeeds. Pretty much everyone accepts that we are fallible beings prone to poor judgment and moments of weakness in our lives. But the public is very unforgiving of those who instead of accepting culpability with humility and honesty, chooses to deny, lie and obfuscate. In those moments, public ire is agitated to such a point where we lose the ability to forgive the hypocrisy.

Much like Rep. Weiner's fall from grace, Full Tilt Poker (FTP) is falling in a similar pattern in the poker world. FTP has exhibited a woeful public relations campaign since the Black Friday indictments of April 15th. A once proud company that had a pretty stellar reputation amongst the public and its customers is being humbled by regular news of prior misdeeds while being unable to responsibly return U.S. player funds reputed to be between $100-$150 million. Instead of regularly delivering honest assessments of its status, it is playing the defensive, misleading and irregular communications game meant to buy time and placate the public until it can sort out some solution to its mess. If not for the massive attention that the World Series of Poker garners each year, FTP would be continuing to receive a pounding in the poker media. PokerStars, on the other hand, faced their obligations to U.S. players in two weeks. Two months later Full Tilt Poker appears as confused as ever in how to manage their public relations or how to emerge from their quagmire. It's a truly sad story for a once proud company.

As an amateur poker player, when I made my move to Full Tilt Poker several years ago, the online poker room had everything I was looking for. FTP had a good volume of players and options of games to play. They innovated new games and features; my favorite being Rush. They showcased the biggest cash games online that I enjoyed railing. Their large stable of sponsored pros was very likable. As a casual player who simply wanted to grow my online bankroll, I had little reason to test their reputed lethargic customer service, one of their few negative public reputations. I couldn't have been much happier or satisfied. They seemed like a reliable, reputable, and ambitious company that took a calculated risk to keep serving U.S. players post UIGEA.

To most of us, it appeared that Full Tilt Poker had a plan. Full Tilt Poker was a site purported to be owned and run by poker players for poker players, right? Isn't that what all good poker players have? A plan for their hand, thought out in advance and ready to handle any deviations as they came. FTP understood that they were taking calculated risk in continuing to serve the U.S. market and they had made business decisions accordingly, right?

Sadly, this was not the case.

As a proper detailed recap of all Full Tilt Poker's moves and their rumored misdeeds since April 15th would make a massive blog, I'll try to briefly restate some of the biggest issues that have come to light:

- Full Tilt Poker's initial public statement set the tone for all that was to follow. It was a concerning sign that they expressed sadness and surprise at the indictment when they had to have seen it coming at some point. They also claimed to have been "always abiding by the law."

- Ray Bitar and Nelson Burtnick were the only owners indicted, although much speculation has gone into who the other owners and responsible parties must be; specifically high profile poker players like Lederer, Ivey, Ferguson, Seidel, Juanda and Bloch.

- The April 15th DOJ indictment indicated FTP engaged in massive bank fraud; by miscoding transactions, bribing bank officials, purchasing a bank and generally attempting to avoiding UIGEA sanctions.

- FTP press releases since April 15th have been few and far between to the media or directly to their customers. Their main and irregular source of information has been the FTPDoug updates on 2p2. Even the FTPDoug account's identity has been called into question, further highlighting the opaque methods that FTP is using to communicate to part of the public. Instead of a Doug, it is now assumed that communications are coming from FTP spokesperson Michelle Clayborne.

- FTP has made infrequent updates on the FTP that while sounding on the surface like progress was being made, simply were administrative steps of calculating and converting bonuses, T$, FPP's and rakeback into as yet untouchable player accounts. No communicated on the larger issue of return of player funds has been communicated.

- FTP took full advantage of Irish-based Alderney Gaming commission's regulations allowing commingling of player and operational funds. This commingling has created a massive unresolved issue of what were player funds or FTP operational funds amongst the many DOJ seized bank accounts.

- Within Bradley Franzen's guilty plea and cooperation with the DOJ was acknowledgment that roughly $60 million had been forwarded to player's accounts by FTP which they were unable to collect from player's bank accounts/deposits.

- Phil Ivey, FTP's most visible pro, pulled out of the entire World Series of Poker while initiating a $150 million lawsuit against FTP for breaching their contract by not indicating that FTP had been informed previously by the DOJ that it was engaging in illegal activity. Ivey wants release from his non compete contract provision and relief for damages to his reputation and future opportunities.

- Despite taking weeks and months to respond to customers and the public, FTP fired off a quick acerbic response to Phil Ivey's $150 million lawsuit that was posted in the middle of the night and began "Contrary to his sanctimonious public statements, Phil Ivey's meritless lawsuit is about helping just one player - himself."

- Rumors from inside FTP indicated that high level ownership rejected the notion of playing players at the expense of owners.

- At the WSOP, tension, debate and vitriol has followed the issue of red pros wearing Full Tilt patches. Many Red pros have opted not to wear patches rather than face the wrath or attention. Some Team Full Tilt and select other pros have worn them. All have been urged not to discuss Full Tilt publicly by FTP. One example, Brandon Adams, indicated he would keep wearing his patch out of loyalty and fear of what might happen if Full Tilt dissolves. He indicated that we should give time for FTP to overcome the amateurish management mistakes and government seizures

- Rumors surfaced; multi-accounting amongst the top pros like Benyamine, Antonius, and Guy Laliberte was more prevalent that originally feared, Full Tilt pocketed instead of redistributing $300k in funds seized from a player accused of having his account ghosted, some prominent players borrowed (i.e. had accounts "topped off") significant sums in the millions and losing thus requiring a messy result, 100% rakeback accounts being sold for up to $50k.

- Individuals within FTP indicated that they had one large Bank of Ireland company account released that held more than $30 million. It was not one of the DOJ seized accounts, but had been frozen out of concern that it might be related.

- More recently individual poker pros have spotted Ray Bitar, Chris Ferguson, and Howard Lederer in Las Vegas, eating around town late at night but not having any public appearances, playing the WSOP, or making any statements.

- Old FTP lawsuits have resurfaced; Jason "JDN" Newitt's wrongful termination and seized ownership lawsuit and Clonie Gowen's lawsuit was reinstated where she accused FTP of reneging on 1% ownership she was orally given (rumors of that offer being given while she was dating Chris Ferguson).

The Full Tilt Poker saga continues with no end in sight. The last public statement from FTP indicated "We still do not have a specific time frame for this. There has been, and remains, no bigger priority than getting US players paid as soon as possible, and we have been working around the clock to get this done." They are attempting to raise capital, but rumor has it have rejected offers that would have given up control of the company to outside investors.

Full Tilt Poker's sole acknowledgement of their failings stated "we understand -- and have always understood -- the effect that our brief statements have had not only on our customers, but also on our reputation. It has not been easy to stay silent and watch the damage being done to our company brand and personal reputations, but we need to be mindful of the complicated and serious legal issues raised in the pending cases."

Full Tilt Poker could have chosen a different path. A path of clarity and transparency. They could have communicated regularly and honestly with their customers and the public. They could have owned up to their mistakes, mismanagement, and misdeeds. But just as Rep. Weiner and countless public figures and companies have done before them, they have dug a bigger hole for themselves. They have misled and delayed. They have hidden behind the legalese.

Although the charges by the U.S. DOJ were very serious and substantive in nature, it could be argued that the response by Full Tilt Poker over the last couple months has devalued the company even more so. In the face of crisis, Full Tilt Poker has been exposed as a poorly run company that didn't plan well for what many have could have predicted was in their future. The damage to their reputation amongst players around the world is even greater than the loss of 39% of their player traffic. Full Tilt's lack of a reasonable plan for their hand has cost U.S. players significantly. Whether Full Tilt Poker can survive their mismanagement has yet to be seen.

Despite the negative circumstances surrounding Full Tilt Poker and the return of U.S. player funds, there is one new ray of hope that may occur as early as this week. Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) could introduce legislation through the more favorable House Energy and Commerce Committee, that would legalize online poker and create a federal regulatory body to oversee future U.S. poker sites. He has the support of the AGA, PPA and some powerful politicians who previously were against poker legislation. Momentum is building that could finally put the wheels in motion to create an regulated environment where U.S. poker players will be able to play online poker without the fear of a company like Full Tilt poker misplaying their hand so badly.

Views: 1646
Date Posted: Jun. 11, 11:56am, 0 Comments

Can you think of any significant poker forum that hasn't had a very popular thread that features "hot girls of poker?" The appeal is completely understandable. Guys make up the vast majority of poker players, online and live. They invest tremendous amounts of time into the game amongst other similarly consumed and competitive guys. Who doesn't appreciate seeing pictures of some lovely girls and fantasizing a bit.

It's very apparent that sex sells. The poker world is rife with examples of poker rooms using lovely young women to help promote their brands. Some try to do it subtly, others throw away any pretenses as this video demonstrates.

Sites like WickedChopsPoker have built their entire identity around capitalizing on the attractiveness of women to promote their poker news and perspective.

Being older, married and with a newly turned 14 year old daughter, I try to temper my enthusiasm for such blatant objectification. But I won't deny the strong appeal of appreciating the opposite sex.

Roughly eight months ago, I began the task of developing a poker section from scratch for a thriving gaming site. I contribute poker strategy, news, player profiles, blogs and a forum. I waited for six months before I began our "hot girls of poker" forum post for several reasons.

1) I wanted to demonstrate that poker has a serious informational foundation that isn't to be trivialized if you want to play the game profitably.

2) I didn't want to take the easy route of throwing up the same sensationalizing pics of the same 25 women that are shown on every other forum.

3) When I got around to creating our "hot girls of poker" I wanted it to be different from any that had come before.

I wanted our "hot girls of poker" to celebrate the beauty of women in poker. That beauty comes in many forms; young and old, any ethnicity, size or shape. Contributions towards poker beauty can come from all areas of the poker world; from poker pro to poker amateur, poker model/hostess to poker reporter/insider. Any woman who contributes to the entirety of the poker world we all enjoy is eligible.

Over the last few weeks, I've been researching women in poker to the point where we have
220 women represented from all over the poker world. The forum post is constantly growing as I find time on top of my other primary responsibilities, but I would assert that it is the most diverse collection of "hot girls of poker" found anywhere in one concentrated format. One thing impressed me as I dug further and further, that for every beautiful woman that has been heavily promoted within the industry, there is one or more who is equally or more beautiful who chooses to play the game without the same attention.

Each "hot girl of poker" contributes her smile, her wit, and yes her curves to making poker a more beautiful place. In a cutthroat game where there is little mercy for the loser which makes up many more of us than the winners, there is solace in appreciating the beauty around us.

Enjoy the PICS -

Views: 1097
Date Posted: Jun. 7, 2:24am, 1 Comment

Since poker's Black Friday on April 15th, I have felt like I've been lost down "the rabbit hole."

Let me backtrack a little to flesh out the metaphor. My 14-year-old daughter is training to become a professional ballerina. She has two main performances each year; the traditional Nutcracker in early December and a different ballet each May. This year the studio director created an original ballet weaving an amalgam of Disney stories with a running theme through them. The lead prince visits a few of the classic Disney stories and their famous heroines looking for his ultimate mate. Along the way he visits Cinderella, Ariel, Rapunzel, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Jasmine, and Belle who for one reason or another don't work out before he finds his true love in the princess from "The Princess and the Pea." In typical Disney fashion, each scene clearly portrays all the good and evil characters we've come to know and love.

The last Disney story scene the prince visits before discovering his true match is Alice in Wonderland. This scene stands out from all the others for several reasons.

1) It is a much longer story, convoluted in plot, with many more characters involved.
2) The characters are more mysterious and morally ambiguous. Determining who is good or bad is much more complicated.
3) The overall ambiance is unsettling, trippy and subversive. It was the only scene to employ special affects to represent Alice in Wonderland's shrinking and a smoke machine to give further mystery.

On April 15th, the American poker public was unwittingly dragged down the proverbial rabbit hole.

1) What was once an uncertain legal environment with respected poker rooms serving a stable community is now deemed illegal and effectively shut off to the majority of players with funds still locked up on two of the three sites. The interim has been confusing and disorienting with no clear end game in sight. Many characters (e.g. PPA, media and industry critics, AGA, online casinos and various state and federal politicians have tried to portray themselves as saviors to orchestrate some reasonable solution. None have been found so far. As Blue Monday demonstrated, the big three U.S facing poker rooms aren't the only poker rooms being targeted and many remaining rooms are imposing new restrictions while e-wallets are becoming highly unreliable.

2) The cast of heroes and villains has been turned upside down. Gone are the days where Phil Ivey, Doyle Brunson, Chris Ferguson, and Howard Lederer are held to unquestioned esteem. Each has had to scramble to protect their personal interests in the light of increasing discord and acrimony with their associated poker businesses. Traditional villains like the corporate land based casino owners are now repositioning themselves to be the new power brokers who will return online poker to the U.S. after being opponents for years. Sponsored and ownership based pros who were highly respected and prized for their poker room sponsorships now are seen as sellouts and complicit in their associated poker room's culpability. The reputation of respected poker sites like PokerStars and Full Tilt have fallen tremendously in the face of bank fraud charges that display a disregard for reasonable business practices. UB/Absolute has been further confirmed to be the villain that many overlooked or justified as still juicy enough to play despite its reputation. Harsh and justified criticism has been leveled at all levels of the poker industry to a point where it is difficult to find guiltless white knights remaining.

3) Much like Alice when she followed the white hare down the rabbit hole, our poker lives have shrunken. The removal of online poker play has reduced the richness of the poker world tremendously. Where players once had tremendous flexibility in what, where and when they play, now options are to play live, move to another country or risk tremendously to play on a fast reducing pool of shaky online poker rooms. While the numbers at the 2011 World Series of Poker may hold up reasonably well this year as players give it an all or nothing/one last chance mentality, it won't be sustainable moving forward as the scores of net losers give up and move on without the ability to refuel online.

Poker players are left dazed and confused. Large sums and many poker bankrolls remain trapped and unreleased on Full Tilt and Absolute. UseMyWallet was one of the last popular e-wallets and has apparently also collapsed with significant player funds held. Remaining U.S.-facing poker rooms are dwindling in option as is the ability to move funds on and off the sites. Many players won't make the transition to or enjoy the live poker environment and drift away without any sense that the situation will be resolved soon.

The latest news from the AGA indicates that possible federal legislation is being crafted to be introduced in the fall to take advantage of a limited political window for possible passage. If passed, it would likely take months if not a couple years to fully implement and replace the online poker ecosystem.

Will the Alice in Wonderland poker player awaken from their dark, subversive and disconcerting journey refreshed and renewed to tackle the new world that will eventually come next? Will poker players who have seen the dark side of poker lose faith in their prior heroes and institutions? With their innocence gone, will the casual poker player or fan return with the same zest? Or will this surreal journey reorient poker players to embrace a new environment where poor business practice, poor customer service, and outright fraud is no longer tolerated. Will poker players become actors for their future and embrace a highly regulated and hopefully more transparent environment?

If we are to climb out of the rabbit hole we find ourselves in, maybe we need to see the absurdity and duplicity of our poker past. We all need to grow up and embrace a more responsible environment that ultimately will be more sustainable. My biggest fear is that in the delayed time it takes for us to find our new way that it doesn't sap the hearts and minds from the community that initially created the initial poker explosion only a few years ago.

Views: 1221
Date Posted: Jun. 1, 6:06pm, 2 Comments

Before I dive into my blog, I wanted to say thank you to all those who reached out with support for Mrs. Zimba. After a few unnerving hours in trauma triage in Portland and a CAT scan, she is home now resting with her fair share of Oxycodone. Neck and spinal issues from a car accident can be scary and we have our fingers crossed that she doesn't have any lingering after-affects from the 17 year old crashing into her. Hopefully she can while away her hours in her neck brace dreaming of her next car.

I was working on a blog entry when I got the call from the accident scene. I had thought I might post it late last night upon getting everyone settled in bed, but when I read the Phil Ivey "pullout of WSOP and suing Tiltware" news sweeping the poker world I felt I should hold off. The World Series of Poker is such a highlight of the year for so many poker players around the world, it was quite disappointing to hear more drama surrounding Full Tilt and that one of the most popular and respected players in the world was abstaining from the series. It was definitely a blow. Not to diminish any of that, but I wanted to focus today's blog on a more positive and uplifting perspective on the WSOP.

Yesterday, seeing the Twitter picture that Daniel Negreanu posted of his six previous World Series of Poker bracelets got me to thinking about the value of the coveted WSOP bracelet. So many poker players dream of winning a WSOP bracelet, often elevating its worth above the prize money won. Why do they do so?

Determining the value of anything is not an easy subject. How do you attribute a monetary worth to something? One needs to ask many questions to arrive at its worth. How rare is it? How important? How special? How useful is it? Lastly, how important it is to your values as a person?

How rare is it?

Since 1976 a bracelet has been awarded to the winner of every sanctioned WSOP event. That first year eight bracelets were awarded, including to Doyle Brunson who won two that year including the main event. At the time he almost forgot to collect them as he considered them nearly worthless in comparison to the prize money.

In 1990, there were just 14 bracelet events.

By 2000, that number increased to 24.

By 2005, that number was up to 45.

In 2010, there were 57 bracelets awarded in Las Vegas and four at the World Series of Poker Europe.

For this year's WSOP, there will be 58 bracelet events, with six more at the World Series of Poker Europe.

Roughly 800 WSOP bracelets have been won over the last 35 years.

How important is it?

The World Series of Poker has been the world's top poker tournament series for decades. It is considered the most prestigious, especially the $10,000 Main Event.

For most poker pros, the WSOP bracelet symbolizes what they strive for in poker; success, victory, glory, and validation.

For experienced poker pros, the question isn't whether you have won a bracelet but how many that determines your success.
We all know the top bracelet winners...

Bracelets Player
11 Phil Hellmuth
10 Johnny Chan
10 Doyle Brunson
9 Johnny Moss
8 Erik Seidel
8 Phil Ivey

It's impossible to overstate the value of a World Series of Poker gold bracelet to anyone who takes the game seriously," stated former World Series of Poker Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack "It is the equivalent of winning the Stanley Cup in hockey or the Lombardi Trophy in football.

How special is it?

The materials used in making the bracelet have mainly been gold with some other metals and jewels to accent it. Starting from the first bracelet in 1976 that cost roughly $500 and looked like gold nuggets kind of hammered flat, WSOP bracelet has seen many versions over the years. Special attention is given to the Main Event bracelet to distinguish its important, often adding many small diamonds.

In an economic sense, supply and demand are the classic intersecting economic indices that help us determine value. But there haven't been many WSOP bracelets put on the market and the few that have sold for a few thousand dollars at most. The one notable case of a Main Event winner selling their bracelet had 2008 WSOP Main Event winner Peter Eastgate donate the winning bid of $147,500 to charity after he retired briefly and saw little personal value for the bracelet.

How useful is it?

Frankly, not very. It is rare for any poker player to wear their bracelet in public, except for the occasional promotional event or special poker tournament where they want to get noticed or send an intimidating message to opponents. The bracelets typically aren't considered fashionable as an everyday jewelry item, and seen as gaudy by many. So the reality is the bracelets are either kept away for safe-keeping or occasionally on display as a sign of prior achievement.

How important it is to your values as a person?

If you talk to many established long time poker pros, winning a WSOP bracelet is prized above all else. The WSOP bracelets give each player a lasting legacy. They have climbed the heights that poker provides and claimed the prize. Whereas money won and lost can be tough to compare, bracelets won serve as a strong measuring stick. Winning multiple bracelets confirms your strength as a player, whereas winning just one bracelet ever may be diminished as you could luckbox your way to a lone victory.

Each player and the poker community as a whole values WSOP bracelets differently. Smaller buy-in events bracelets (e.g. $1k-$1,500) may be valued less than big buy in events. There is a different view of large No Limit Hold'em events versus smaller field non-NLHE events. But without a doubt, the Main Event bracelet holds the greatest prestige of all.

When Steve Lipscomb, founder of the WPT, introduced bracelets for WPT winners modeled after the success of the WSOP bracelet, he said "the championship bracelet has become synonymous with poker as a symbol of achievement and respect."

Many poker players struggle for meaning when faced solely with playing a card game that involves just winning and losing money. The value of money becomes diminished and there lacks any long lasting legacy to consider. Add in the prospect of a WSOP bracelet, with the accompanying fame and glory and suddenly the poker player is inspired. The WSOP bracelet acts as a symbolic form of validation for each poker player's hard work and struggles.

Suitably inspired? Go out and win one this summer!

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