The WSOP tries to bring live traditions with it online

wsop bracelets
Jon Pill
Posted on: August 14, 2020 16:46 PDT

The World Series of Poker has been, since its earliest days, all about the bracelets. The little loops of silver, gold, and diamond are the most coveted prizes in poker. Players are introduced along with their bracelet count.

Every year, each pro that's worth their salt puts in the time and effort to play — often at much lower stakes than their usual games — as many events as they can. They do it not for the green, but the gold.

The bracelets were initially conceived with some of the significance of a Superbowl ring or a championship belt in boxing. In past years, when the WSOP took place in meatspace, the bracelets would be mounted on the pile of cash brought out to the table whenever a tourney got down to heads up.

More precious than money

This year’s bracelets are inscribed with the word “online” and hail from the workshops of Jostens. In previous years, companies like Corum and Cartier have provided the bling.

Now both money and bracelet appear as cartoon icons on the digital felt. It takes a little longer for the real objects to get to the winners.

Hundreds of live players have moved into online MTTs, some for the first time, some returning as to an old friend. All of them have had to acclimatize to the world of online play. This can lead to awkward situations as Erik Seidel found in his recent controversy. But it has also led to some pleasant twists on old themes as the WSOP staff try to recreate some of the feel of the live series in the internet tubes.

To this end, the Online series has created two new online poker traditions that I think we can all hope are extended to other online events.

The first is the unboxing video, which so far has been at its best when man’s best friend has been on hand to help out. The very best of canine helpers were present at the appropriately named Nathan Gamble’s unboxing.

Lag time

The other new tradition is the Zoom call presentation.

At somewhat irregular intervals, Jack Effel — the WSOP’s VP — puts on his TV suit and drives down to the rather underused PokerGo studio. From there, he presents the bracelets to whoever’s webcam is working and was in the right time zone.

Last week, nine players got their bracelets this way. Effel congratulated the players one by one, holding the bracelet up so they could mime putting the jewelry on via the fiber optics.

After the miming is done, the bracelets go out the door where the FedEx folks cart them off to the four corners and the players can unbox their trophies from wherever they are sheltering in place.