Monday, October 14, 2013

The Bracelets and the Bucks

The 2013 World Series of Poker Europe is underway, kind of appearing suddenly and without too much fanfare amid all of the other tours already up and running all over the globe, not to mention the coming of the November Nine which is now just three weeks away.

I remember in 2008 when the WSOP first announced the whole delayed final table concept less than a month before the start of the Series that summer. One of the instant subplots created by the announcement was the fact that the WSOPE (which only began in 2007) would be playing out before the Main Event concluded, which meant a lot of curiosity about whether or not the WSOP ME final tablists would be turning up in London (where the WSOPE was then held) prior to their final table playing out in November.

After six years’ worth of delayed ME final tables, there doesn’t seem to be that much fuss about the current November Niners and the WSOPE. Nor is there quite as much of the “Are WSOPE Bracelets ‘Real’?” debate happening like there once was, although the conclusion of the first event over the weekend did stir up a few related discussions.

You’ve no doubt heard by now that Jackie Glazier, fresh off of finishing 31st in the WSOP Main Event in July (where she was the last woman eliminated), won the first of eight gold bracelets to be awarded in Paris this week when she took down the €1,100 Ladies Event. Glazier won €21,850 for topping a field of 65 players.

Obviously some want to debate whether non-open tourneys should be regarded as “real” bracelet events. The undersized field of 65 and/or the relatively small first prize can be cause for some also to build similarly-themed arguments.

That first prize of €21,850 is well under what the winner of every other bracelet event during the 2013 WSOP took away. In fact it’s almost five times less what the smallest first prize was this summer (David Chiu’s $145,520 for winning the $2,500 stud event), and that’s not counting the Casino Employees Event. Even there, Chad Holloway won a prize nearly three times as large ($84,915).

A couple of the bracelets won at the 2013 Asia Pacific back in April also featured five-figure first prizes, with Jim Collopy winning AU$69,992 ($1,650 PLO) and Phil Ivey AU$51,840 ($2,200 Mixed Event).

Such comparisons are diverting, but do they add up to a coherent argument about the worth of a WSOP bracelet? Ever since a bracelet came with a $18,346,673 first prize attached, any ideas of a “range” in which first place prizes ought to fall somehow seem less persuasive.

The same might be said for field sizes (which in the case of the “Big One for One Drop” in 2012 was smaller than Event No. 1 at the 2013 WSOPE), the relatively quality of fields, or other of the several distinctions that tend to make every tournament unique.

I’m of the mind that each WSOP bracelet event is different, anyway, and while it’s hard not to equate them on some level to do so always requires momentarily setting aside each event’s uniqueness in favor of indulging in a different kind of scorekeeping.

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