Mike Sexton Questions the Value of WSOP Bracelets

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In a blog recently published on PartyPoker’s website, World Poker Tour host Mike Sexton (pictured) questioned the value of World Series of Poker bracelets and called out the WSOP for a few other reasons. Sexton is a member of the Poker Hall of Fame and owns one WSOP bracelet, which came in a Stud High-Low event in 1989.

After saying that the WSOP is “diluting” its product, Sexton argued, “Winning a WSOP bracelet is the dream of nearly all poker players, the marketing of which has played a key role in attracting customers. The staying power, however, will evaporate if more and more bracelets are continually handed out.”

Sexton pointed out that in 1970, the WSOP’s first year, only one bracelet was given out. In 1999, there were 16 awarded, but this year, explained Sexton, “There are 68 bracelet events on tap plus all of the events at WSOPE and WSOP Australia… I’m worried, as the number of events continually grows, the value of each bracelet will diminish.” Sexton advocated only awarding bracelets in Las Vegas.

He also touched on the November Nine, a concept he’s against because it “doesn’t put players first.” He explained, “We all know they move the Main Event final table from July to November for PR and TV reasons. I wish they would allow players to take two days off – one for rest and the other for player interviews – and play the final table on the third day. This would allow family and friends time to travel to Las Vegas to watch. The Rio showroom would still be jam-packed. And I’m sure the TV ratings would be good. Most importantly, I feel certain the vast majority of players would prefer to play the final table in July.”

Sexton argued that there are a variety of issues with waiting four months, including an unfair rest and training period, a short-stacked player having to return to Las Vegas only to be ousted immediately, and the potential of someone dying during the break. He chided about the latter point, “I’m guessing they’ll put a little coffin on the table and blind that person off.”

What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with Sexton on either point? Comment here and let us know.

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26 COMMENTS

  1. There could be some truth to it. I haven’t watched a main event in the last few years. I would say when it went over 20 bracelets it probably cheapened itself. When you have too many events it cheapens it and makes it less special. Take the Breeder’s Cup in horse racing. 8 Races one day late in the year to help determine champions. Then they added more races and then made it a two day event now the last few years. It takes away the magic somewhat.

    • In 1970 how big was the field? I agree somewhat but the game has grown so much….I think it keeps people in the game more cause having at least one bracelet is enough ego for most people to keep playing the game for a long time. Having the Nov 9 tho is stupid…never thought about if someone died either in between events. I like the 2 day lay off for rest cause all of us grinders know playing 5 days straight takes a toll on you! Need more OMAHA events too Hold Em’ is dieing out

    • What’s cheaper, a 1989 Stud bracelet that probably 100 (that estimate may be high?) fought for, or a bracelet where thousands of players enter the field like the ones now?

    • My bad, there were 174 entries. *eyeroll*

      Don’t get me wrong, Sexton seems like a stand up guy and has done a lot for poker but I strongly disagree with his views.

    • I shouldn’t imagine Sexton would claim his bracelet is more valuable than a modern day bracelet.

    • He went to pawnstars with dutch and they only offered him 20 bucks for it, pissed him off…

    • One of the criticisms I have seen to Mike’s piece is that the WPT has added a slew of branded events like the National Series and DeepStacks, which you could argue dilutes the value of a WPT title. The fact that he’s calling out the WSOP while not mentioning what the WPT has done could seem a little biased.

    • The value of the bracelet being diminished seems overblown but I def agree with his take on finishing the ME in July. 

    • One of the criticisms I have seen to Mike’s piece is that the WPT has added a slew of branded events like the National Series and DeepStacks, which you could argue dilutes the value of a WPT title. The fact that he’s calling out the WSOP while not mentioning what the WPT has done could seem a little biased.

      I don’t think that most players would view a WSOP bracelet and a WPT title in the same ballpark. While a WPT title would be amazing, I think the bracelet is always going to be the pinnacle.

    • A lot of the events are repetitive. I understand throwing in the lower buy in events for the pedestrian players to achieve the dream. I would have no problem cutting it down to 30ish events. I concur with the WSOPE and Pacific diluting the brand. Just run circuits there if u wish to expand your brand there. I also agree with keeping the final table in July. The death comment is a little extreme but could happen.

    • Not at all unlikely that someone will eventually die and not necessarily from old age.  Plenty of 20somethings get in auto accidents.    And waiting a couple days for the FT of ME would be TREMENDOUSLY better than waiting til November.

    • totally agree…..Bracelets should be awarded for only the most important tournaments that occurred during the year….16 a year sounds like a legit number.

      Wow, never even thought of the possibility of someone dying between July and November…how SAD would that be. And the likely hood that if there wasn’t a pause between July and November, that ‘person’ whom died during those few months, would most likely have been doing something completely different or in a totally different area/country with their winning from July…not all stressed out after making the Nov 9 in July..and waiting around for months to collect winnings they would certainly be awarded .  How sad would that be….sad enough that if that ever occurred, they might have to use that ‘person’ as a reason to rid the Nov 9 and keep it in July as Mike stated.

      I agree with Mike 100%…but my opinion means nadda lol

    • I think sucks for the players. But when they register they agree to November 9 terms if they make it. Sucks and I think it’s terrible. Why should someone have to die before they revert back and put their greed on back burner. The person who may die could have enjoyed some their winnings prior to dying. Though my understanding is they all get paid 9th place money in July

    • Poker should be like golf. Have a tour(open to public). Have points rankings. Have playoffs and crown a champion.

      EDIT:I guess that is wpt. lol.

      EDIT2: i formally request this post be stricken from public record.

    • I don’t think that most players would view a WSOP bracelet and a WPT title in the same ballpark. While a WPT title would be amazing, I think the bracelet is always going to be the pinnacle.

      Completely agree with you.

    • don’t have to die, not to show up. unforeseen illness or other bad events, can lead to a “no show”

    • When online poker becomes legal nationwide (and it will one day), the next wave of young poker players entering the game will dwarf the “Moneymaker Wave”. More bracelets will never dilute the value because nobody is giving them away for free. You still have to beat the field to earn it. And the field is ever improving.

    • As the number of bracelets awarded on an annual basis increases, their respective prestige decreases. And, the main event getting down to 9 players and then taking a 4 month break is like a marathon being stopped at mile 25 and having the top 9 run the last mile 4 months later. The break changes the “event” dramatically. Sexton is right on both counts.

    • And if Sexton plays a 10k event this year and wins is it a “diluted” bracelet? Love Sexton and the WPT but I think he would tell you he would much rather have that than a Legends or Bay 101 title. All prestigious titles that anyone would love to have but the WSOP brand is just different and will not be overtaken by any tour.

    • I don’t know if he was necessarily trying to say that bracelets won in the last five years are not as valuable as ones won decades ago as much he’s saying that if you keep adding more and more bracelet events the appeal of winning one becomes less and it can then hurt the brand.

      While I don’t know if this is right or not,what I think he’s saying makes a ton of sense. The WSOP is making tons of money and wants to have as many events as possible but if winning an event losses the bucket list appeal to poker players the world series will get smaller.

      Probably the thing that has killed the value of a bracelet the most is people are starting to understand the amounts of luck that are involved in winning a tourney (especially with a huge field size)