Op-Ed: What does a World Series of Poker bracelet stand for?

Posted by Steve Ruddock on Nov 29, 2010 Posted in Poker News | No Comments »

One of the most talked about poker stories of the year will likely be Peter Eastgate auctioning off his 2008 World Series of Poker Championship bracelet, and people in the poker community seem very split over whether Eastgate did the right thing; even though his motives were entirely pure, considering he gave all proceeds to the charity UNICEF. For a great read on the debate I suggest PokerNewsDaily columnist Earl Burton’s piece which you can read here: Poker Community Reacts to Recent WSOP Bracelet Auctions.

This brings up the question of what a WSOP bracelet really stands for, and if the actual bracelet holds any intrinsic value beyond being a gaudy piece of jewelry. In my opinion, whether you retain possession of the bracelet or not doesn’t diminish your accomplishment in said tournament. Going a step further, with just a few exceptions –a Main Event or Players Championship bracelet, or the bracelet of a poker superstar like Doyle Brunson, Phil Hellmuth, or Daniel Negreanu—the bracelets hold no added historical value, and are basically just worth their weight in gold; as we have seen from TJ Cloutier’s and now Eskimo Clark’s final auction prices.

Another point I would make is that of Phil Hellmuth giving some of his bracelets away to family members. Is this any different than auctioning them off to charity?

I suppose it all comes down to how you feel about the material possession of the bracelet; some players view it as a trophy that should be proudly displayed, while other players look on it as nothing more than a bauble –and neither camp is wrong, it’s all about the individual perspective.

Did Peter Eastgate dishonor his WSOP title by selling his bracelet to the highest bidder –for charity of course? The answer would have to be an emphatic NO! Even had Eastgate pocketed the money himself it doesn’t change anything about his legacy in the poker world or what he managed to accomplish in 2008 at the WSOP. Eastgate will forever be the 2008 WSOP Champion whether he flaunts a bracelet on his wrist or hides it at the bottom of a safe in his house. Or, if he auctions it off and it ends up around the neck of a German Shepherd named Zasko owned by an eccentric Lithuanian/Australian poker pro.

No matter what happens to, or whoever owns it, the 2008 WSOP Championship bracelet will remain to be Peter Eastgate’s 2008 WSOP Main Event Championship bracelet. And that seems to be all that matters to Eastgate.

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