WSOP Europe Bracelets "Not Real Bracelets" According to Savage
The debate on whether a WSOP Europe bracelet is indeed a valid bracelet or not has reached a new level.Â Matt Savage was recently quoted on This Week in Poker as saying the following about bracelets won outside of Vegas:
"I don't like it.Â I don't think it's like a real bracelet."Â
And "The World Series was founded in Vegas, and that's kind of what it's about.Â So, I don't think that those bracelets are as valuable. Phil Laak has a bracelet now, great, but he didn't win it in Las Vegas."
When asked about whether the WPT has lost prestige due to offering lower buy-ins, Savage was quick to point out that WSOP Europe fields are capped fields and that causes the bracelets to lose value.
Ty Stewart Responds
Ty Stewart, VP with Harrahs and the WSOP, did not take these comments lying down. He stated the following in a comment posted in a story about Savage's comments on Wicked Chops Poker:
"I wonder what he might say about his own WPT bracelets, awarded retro-actively after six seasons in a blatant attempt to borrow equity from the WSOP and confuse the marketplaceâ¦"
"Sounds like sour grapes when your âbiggest event in historyâ ($3.4MM prize pool) is still several million in prize pool less than the WSOPE main awarding a bracelet somehow not worthy to Mr. Savage."
"You tell Phi Laak and Gus Hansen they didnât earn real bracelets here in London. Iâm sure they felt their WPT bracelets received in the mail had already capped their career accomplishments."
BJ Nemeth made a lengthy comment about the issue in the comments of the same article.Â Among his points were:
"Itâs not up to Harrahâs or one or two journalists to determine whether or not one bracelet is worth another. Itâs up to the entire poker community."
"Another key differentiator is the bracelet bets among players. If all bracelets are equal, it would never be an issue. But every major bracelet bet addresses the standing of a WSOP-E victory. Some bets count those bracelets, some bets donât, and some bets only use it as a partial victory â if Ivey wins a WSOP-E bracelet, he doesnât win his bracelet bet, but he doesnât lose it either."
"When it comes to WSOP-E bracelets, they are treated a bit differently. Annette Obrestad is the youngest player to ever win a WSOP bracelet, but it is usually asterisked since you only need to be 18 to play in Europe. So thereâs the youngest to win a bracelet in Vegas, and the youngest to win a bracelet in Europe. Also, very few people call Obrestadâs bracelet a âMain Event bracelet.â Itâs more often qualified as a âWSOP Europe bracelet.â
Ty Stewart returned with another long comment to sum up his thoughts:
"Well, considering the prize pool and the (non-paid) media coverage... I think the community as a whole has pretty well made up its mind.
"Instead of trying to stain what has been a great event in Europe (one without question good for the industry) Iâd applaud Mr. Savage if he could use his role as tour director to come up with new traditions and trophies for winning WPT titles.
"Weâve felt as you have that âNothing Else Countsâ when it comes to bracelets in the minds of the players, but it may be time to take a more formal approach to defense of our intellectual property.
"Iâve had the good fortune of having several conversations with Jack Binion about the spirit of the bracelet and the vision for the series overallâ¦Most recently when I asked him to come present Iveyâs 8th. The Binion family had a very simple and pure goalâ¦.bring together the best poker players in the world. With those who have honored us with their presence here in London, I do feel confident saying mission accomplished."
Personally, I side with those that do not view the WSOP-E bracelets in the same light as the WSOP Vegas bracelets.Â In all honesty, the players clearly do not view them in the same light either.
If they did, why did many choose to totally skip the WSOP Europe this year?Â T.J. Cloutier, Scotty Nguyen and even Doyle Brunson were all no shows.Â Kathy Liebert, Allen Kessler and Matt Stout all showed up half way through the event.
WSOP-E bracelets are much like the mixed bracelets at the WSOP Vegas.Â Many of the pros go after them because of the smaller fields.Â
When the super sized NL events were too much for the pros to win regularly, they moved on to the smaller fields.Â By design, the WSOP-E fields will be smaller, and while the overall competition may be higher, the odds of winning in a field of 200 to 500 are much greater than winning in a field of 1,500 to 8,000.
For the bracelets in Europe to have more meaning, the players have to give them meaning.Â Some are doing a great job of doing such, but many by their actions are making it obvious to the poker world that they are not as important.
One final point that I should make is that even WSOP bracelets in Vegas were not viewed that highly until the last decade or so. There were years that players didn't play either due to protest or because the cash games were more important.Â
Trends change, as does opinions.Â Given time, these bracelets may come to mean as much, but for now, people need to get over the delusion that the bracelets in Europe mean as much as the Vegas bracelets.