Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Bracelets and Rings

Got back home in one piece yesterday from my Foxwoods trip, sorta kinda napped a little bit before engaging in some more late night work, then today I’m looking at a full day of handling more business before I drive tomorrow to Cherokee, North Carolina for the next WSOP Circuit Main Event.

As I was up late last night, I followed along with the PokerListings hand-for-hand coverage of that WSOP Asia Pacific Event No. 3 final table (the 8-game mixed event) featuring both Daniel Negreanu and Phil Ivey, with Ivey eventually winning his ninth bracelet. Even dipped into the live stream from time to time, although since I was doing other things I couldn’t really follow it that closely, particularly during the non-flop games.

Ivey and Brandon Wong ended up playing a heads-up for quite some time -- 180 hands, if my math is correct -- before Ivey finally won the sucker. All of this happened in the wee hours over here in America, of course, since Melbourne is 14 hours ahead of those of us on the east coast (I believe).

Event No. 3 was a $2,200 buy-in event (AUD, which is worth just a little more than USD right now), and only 81 players took part. Ivey’s win will certainly once again spur debates about the relative value of WSOP bracelets, reprising the arguments about (1) non-Vegas WSOP events vs. those won elsewhere; (2) the ballooning number of bracelets (75 total this year); and (3) bracelets won in low buy-in and/or small field events vs. others. The fact that Ivey has won all nine of his bracelets in events other than no-limit hold’em will also inspire some discussion, too, I imagine.

I might have begun to be affected somewhat by hanging around the WSOP Circuit more lately, but I’m becoming less and less bothered by the preponderance of bracelets and the whole “devaluing” argument.

There are 20 WSOP-C stops this year with a dozen events at each, with the winners all getting a ring along with their first place prizes. That’s 240 rings going out in a single year, and thus there are many who play who have multiple rings. Right now Alex Masek has the all-time lead in that race with six.

Comparing bracelets and rating their relative value has always been the equivalent of sports-bar type arguments over the ranking of players or teams from different eras. Of course, even within the same WSOP, no two events are really the equivalent of each other, even if they feature the same buy-in and game.

The debates, though, can still be interesting and even constructive when it comes to producing new ideas about valuing players’ abilities. And I think the added layer of competition that comes with chasing bracelets (or rings) clearly motivates many players and adds another level of entertainment to those who follow these things.

It’s obvious at every WSOP-C stop that many are mindful of both the number of rings players have won as well as the WSOP-C points standings that land players spots in the year-end National Championship as well as determine the “Casino Champion” at each stop. Some might want to argue the extra incentives are mainly there to exploit the players, but I think on the whole most who play like having them.

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