The Championship Bracelet has become synonymous as a symbol of achievement and respect in the Poker world. It was first introduced as a prize to the winner of the World Series of Poker Event in 1976 by Benny Binion, of Binion's Casino in Las Vegas. It is the most prestigious and sought after non-monetary prize in poker. The poker bracelet is the ultimate poker prize!
It is rumored that there are two types of poker players - those that have won a bracelet and those who have not. That rare list of "haves" include bracelet leader, Phil Hellmuth, Jr. with 11 WSOP bracelets; Doyle "Texas Dolly" Brunson, 10 WSOP bracelets; Johnny Chan also with 10 WSOP bracelets; Johnny Moss with 9 bracelets; Erik Seidel with 8 WSOP bracelets; and Phil Ivey and Bill Baxter both with 7 WSOP bracelets.
Actress Jennifer Tilly won the 2005 Women's WSOP Championship and said that winning the bracelet was "better than an Oscar." WSOP State Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack in 2006 stated that the poker bracelet is the equivalent of winning the Stanley Cup in hockey or the Lombardi Trophy in Football." Or a gold medal to an Olympic athlete.
The bracelet has evolved over the years in several ways. When the prize was first offered in the years from 1976 - 1989 only a few bracelets were awarded and the design looked like gold nuggets flattened. From 1990 - 94 they awarded 14 bracelets for WSOP special events. Last year there were a total of 57 bracelets awarded.
From 1980's-2004 the bracelets were manufactured by Mordechai Yerusalmi. In 2005, Frederick Goedman designed the diamond clad bracelet with 259 stones, 7.2 carats of diamonds. The bracelet today is designed by Corum and they offer four variations of the bracelet.
What has also changed over the years is the monetary value of the bracelet. The first bracelet was reported to have cost just a few hundred dollars. Today with all of the diamonds, gems and gold, the bracelet is worth thousands of dollars.
Johnny Chan has all of his original bracelets safely locked in a vault and feels that the bracelets are worth millions. In 2006 the World Poker Tour added the prestigious poker bracelet as the prize to the Champion of their WPT tournaments. WPT Founder and President Steve Lipscomb said, "We are honored to continue the tradition that Benny Binion began over 30 years ago."
For those of us who may never make it to a final table at the World Series of Poker Main Event, there may be other ways that you can win a bracelet. You can puchase the more affordable version to offer as a prize for your home tournaments or your poker fundraising events. Whether the bracelet is worth $100 or $100,000, it is certainly a symbol of excellence in the poker world.
The poker bracelet is the ultimate prize - the most coveted, prestigious and most sought after non-monetary prize in poker. A showing of the truly great poker players of our times - just ask Phil Hellmuth!
Source: Wikipedia, "The History of the Poker Bracelet"