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The World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet is considered the most coveted non-monetary prize a poker player can win. Since 1976, a bracelet has been awarded to the winner of every event at the annual WSOP. Even if the victory occurred before 1976, WSOP championships are now counted as "bracelets". During the first years of the WSOP only a handful of bracelets were awarded each year. In 1990, there were only 14 bracelet events. By 2000, that number increased to 24. As the popularity of poker has increased during the 2000s, the number of events has likewise increased. In 2011, 58 bracelets were awarded at the WSOP, seven at the World Series of Poker Europe (WSOPE), and one to the WSOP National Circuit Champion. This brought the total number of bracelets awarded up to 959. Five additional bracelets were awarded for the first time in April 2013 at the inaugural World Series of Poker Asia-Pacific (WSOP APAC) in Melbourne, Australia.
After the conclusion of the 2013 WSOP APAC, there have been 1008 bracelets awarded, 462 of which were won by 140 players who have won at least two bracelets, with all of the other bracelets being won by one-time winners. This includes (up to this point) 17 Main Event winners: Hal Fowler, Bill Smith, Mansour Matloubi, Brad Daugherty, Jim Bechtel, Russ Hamilton, Noel Furlong, Robert Varkonyi, Chris Moneymaker, Greg Raymer, Joe Hachem, Jamie Gold, Jerry Yang, Peter Eastgate, Joe Cada, Jonathan Duhamel and Pius Heinz.
The 1976 bracelet looked "like gold nuggets kind of hammered flat." The bracelet in 1976 cost approximately $500. In the 1980s, Las Vegas jeweler Mordechai Yerushalmi became the exclusive manufacturer of WSOP bracelets until Harrah's Entertainment bought the rights to the WSOP in 2004. According to 2003 WSOP Champion Chris Moneymaker, the design of the bracelet remained relatively unchanged under Yerushalmi. In 2005, Gold and Diamond International based in Memphis, TN won the bid from Harrah's Entertainment to manufacture the 2005 WSOP bracelets. The company also manufactures the WSOP circuit rings.
In 2006, Frederick Goldman, Inc. made the WSOP bracelets while luxury watch maker Corum introduced some commemorative watches as part of the prize package. In 2006, the Champion's bracelet had 259 stones including 7.2 carats (1.4 g) of diamonds, 120 grams of white and yellow gold. It also used rubies to represent the heart and diamond suits, a sapphire to represent the spade and three black diamonds to represent the clubs.
In 2007, Corum became the official bracelet manufacturer for the WSOP. Some of the 2007 WSOP champions received both a watch and a bracelet from Corum. Corum designed four variations for the 2007 World Series of Poker Bracelets. The standard version that is presented to 53 winners features 53 diamonds. The Ladies World Champion receives a bracelet that is adorned with four black diamonds, two rubies and 87 blue sapphires. The $50,000 HORSE Champion Bracelet has 91 black diamonds and two rubies. The World Series of Poker Main Event Bracelet has 120 diamonds on 136 grams of 18 carat (75 percent) white gold. The value of the 2007 bracelets have not been released, but the typical price of a Corum watch ranges from $1,500–$30,000+.
In 2008, the Main Event Bracelet had 291 diamonds, totalling 2.81 carats set in 168 grams of 18kt white gold. The other 54 event bracelets consisted of 55 diamonds, totalling 0.25 carats set in 80 grams of 14kt yellow gold.
In 2010, an Australian based company OnTilt Designs Pty Ltd won a multi-year contract to become the official bracelet manufacturer for the WSOP. OnTilt jewelers decided that the 2010 bracelet design would return to the tradition of the 70's and 80's where the bracelet was a heavy piece of unadorned metal. The goal was to create a bracelet that somebody would actually want to wear everyday. In 2011, OnTilt has also been chosen to manufacture the WSOP Circuit rings.
In 2012, Jason Arasheben, famed jewelry designer and owner of Jason of Beverly Hills was chosen as the official bracelet manufacturer of the WSOP. Arasheben had designed the championship rings for the 2009 and 2010 Los Angeles Lakers and the 2011 Green Bay Packers, among others. The Main Event bracelet will feature each suit in the deck in either rubies or black diamonds. In terms of sheer mass, it weighs in at over 160 grams of 14 karat gold and over 35 carats of flawless diamonds.
A special platinum bracelet was awarded at the 2012 WSOP to the winner of The Big One for One Drop, Antonio Esfandiari. The event was a $1 million buy-in tournament created as a fundraiser for the One Drop Foundation, a charity established by Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté.
Some professional poker players believe that there are two types of poker players; those who have won a bracelet and those who have not. Those who have belong to an exclusive club. "It's impossible to overstate the value of a World Series of Poker gold bracelet to anyone who takes the game seriously," stated World Series of Poker Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack during the 2006 bracelet unveiling. "It is the equivalent of winning the Stanley Cup in hockey or the Lombardi Trophy in football."
Many professional poker players desire the recognition that is associated with the bracelet. Former Celebrity Poker Showdown host and poker star Phil Gordon said, "I want that bracelet more than anything." Freddy Deeb said that he did not appreciate his first bracelet because he did not recognize what it meant. He said his 2007 bracelet, however, "means everything to me". Jennifer Tilly says that winning her 2005 Women's Championship bracelet was "better than an Oscar". When the World Poker Tour decided to offer a prize to its event champions, they decided to present them with WPT Bracelets. In so doing, WPT Founder, President and CEO, Steve Lipscomb said, "The championship bracelet has become synonymous with poker as a symbol of achievement and respect, and we are honored to continue the tradition that Benny Binion [the founder of the WSOP] began over 30 years ago."
Bracelets have not always been awarded for winning events. In 1970, the first WSOP Champion received nothing but a silver cup and whatever cash he won during the event. From 1971–1974, according to Becky Behnen (the daughter of WSOP founder Benny Binion), the winner received an undescribed "corny trophy". In 1975, the winners received a sterling plate. The following year, 1976, the WSOP started the tradition of issuing bracelets to the event winners.
In 1980 and 1981, one did not have to win a WSOP event to win a gold bracelet. In 1980 and 1981, H.D. "Oklahoma Johny" Hale and Chip Reese received a gold bracelet for being the "Best All Around Player" at the WSOP, respectively. These bracelets, however, are not considered in the count of WSOP championship bracelets.
In 2007, Thomas Bihl became the first person to ever win a WSOP bracelet outside Las Vegas, Nevada. Bihl won the £2,500 World Championship H.O.R.S.E. at the World Series of Poker Europe in London, England. Days later, Annette Obrestad became the youngest player to ever win a WSOP bracelet at 18 years, 364 days, also becoming the first woman to win a World Series Main Event (WSOPE). Caesars Entertainment (known until 2010 as Harrah's Entertainment), the owner of the WSOP, considers the WSOP Europe bracelet to be the same in prestige as those awarded every year in Las Vegas.
In 2008, Jesper Hougaard became the first person to have won both a WSOP and WSOPE bracelet.
In 2011, a World Series of Poker bracelet was awarded for the first time to the WSOP Circuit National Championship winner in the 100-qualifier event from May 27 – 29. The following year, the Circuit National Championship moved to New Orleans, where it will also be held in 2013.
Of the three top WSOP bracelet winners, only Johnny Chan still has them all. He keeps them locked in a vault because they are worth, according to him, "millions." Brunson did not pick up two of his. Thirteen-time bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth gave away ten of his. "To me," Hellmuth said, "the bracelets have always been a really huge deal, to me more than the other guys, because I knew that they represented history."
Three-time WSOP Bracelet winner Hamid Dastmalchi and five-time winner Ted Forrest had been playing for four days non-stop at the Mirage when Hamid started to complain about the 1992 Main Event Championship Bracelet he received. Bitter about a dispute with the Binion's Horseshoe, the owners of the WSOP at the time, Hamid told the table that the Binion's "say it's worth $5,000, but I'd take $1,500 for it." To which Forrest responded "Sold" and immediately tossed Hamid $1,500 in chips. Dastmalchi mailed Forrest his bracelet. Ted Forrest also reported that three of his five bracelets have been stolen over the years, and that he gave his daughter one.
|This section needs additional citations for verification. (August 2011)|
|Bracelets||Player||Main Event wins|
|Decade||Bracelets||Player||Wins during decade|
|1970s||7||Johnny Moss||1970, 1971 (2), 1974, 1975, 1976, 1979|
|1980s||4||Stu Ungar||1980, 1981 (2), 1983|
|1990s||5||Phil Hellmuth||1992, 1993 (3), 1997|
|2000s||7||Phil Ivey||2000, 2002 (3), 2005, 2009 (2)|
|2010s||3||2010, 2011, 2012|
|3||2010, 2011[E], 2012|
(bold = won Main Event)
Moss also was the first person to win five lifetime WSOP bracelets, with a win at the 1975 WSOP.
Johnny Chan, with a win in Event No. 25 at the 2005 WSOP, became the first person to win 10 lifetime WSOP bracelets, just a few days before Doyle Brunson won his 10th bracelet in Event No. 31 of that same WSOP.
The first person to win two bracelets in the same WSOP was Johnny Moss at the 1971 WSOP.
The first person to win three bracelets in the same WSOP was Walter "Puggy" Pearson, at the 1973 WSOP. As of the start of the 2010 WSOP, only four other players have won three bracelets in a single WSOP.
Bill Boyd and Doyle Brunson are the only players to have won bracelets in four consecutive years (Boyd from 1971 to 1974, and Brunson from 1976 to 1979).
In 2005, the WSOP started hosting Circuit Events at many of their casinos around the country. In order to differentiate these events and to ensure the prestige of the WSOP Bracelet, the circuit events present a ring to the winners. In 2011, the WSOP awarded a bracelet to the winner of the Circuit Event National Champion. The Circuit Event National Champion was an invitation only event that used the standings of players from the various circuit events in determining who was invited.