Ask any poker player worth their salt what the one poker-related prize they would love to win and the answer will be almost unanimous – a World Series of Poker bracelet.
The World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet is the most coveted prize a poker player can win. Since 1976, WSOP bracelets have been awarded to the winner of every event at the annual WSOP, but prior things were much different.
At the 1970-74 WSOP, the champion was awarded what Becky Behnen (WSOP founder Benny Binion’s daughter) described as a “corny trophy,” with the 1975 winner receiving a sterling silver plate. The first bracelet came to light in 1976 and the tradition of bracelets has continued ever since, although the quality and monetary value of them has drastically increased in recent years.
The bracelet that Greg Merson picked up for winning the 2012 WSOP Main Event was described by its designer Jason Arashebenm as being “the most expensive piece of championship jewellery across all major sports.” That particular bracelet features over 160 grams of 14-karat gold and over 35 karats of flawless diamonds! Although no actual price has ever been confirmed, the face value of such a bracelet is estimated to be in excess of $100,000!
Since the creation of the WSOP there has been 1,008 bracelets awarded, with 462 of those being won by the 140 players who have won multiple WSOP events. Among the bracelet winners are six Australian's; can you remember who they all are?
The first Australian to win a WSOP bracelet was Mel Judah, in fact Judah is the only Australian player to have his hands — or should that be wrists — on two bracelets. The first of this poker jewellry was awarded for Judah's victory in a $1,500 Seven Card Stud event at the 1989 WSOP and he followed that up with a win in the $5,000 Seven Card Stud event at the 1997 WSOP. Judah also has three runner-up finishes and two third places in bracelet events, which is an impressive record.
Another Australian to win a bracelet in a seven card stud event was the legendary Gary Benson. At the 1996 WSOP, Benson outlasted a strong field of 247 runners to claim Australia second bracelet.
The biggest-ever win by an Australian player is also one of the largest cash hauls in the history of poker. We are talking of Joe Hachem's 2005 WSOP Main Event victory. Hachem navigated his way through the massive crowd of 5,619 players to claim the $7,500,000 first place prize for himself and to have his name written in poker's history books.
The year after Hachem's epic victory, Mark Vos got in on the act and boosted his bankroll to the tune of $803,274 when he won the $2,000 No Limit Hold'em Event. Vos defeated Nam Le heads-up to claim the bracelet for himself. During the latter stages of the tournament, Vos had to battle it out with the likes of Vanessa Selbst, Carlos Mortensen and Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier, which was no mean feat.
The next two bracelets were both won outside of Las Vegas. Andrew Hinrichsen made the trip to Cannes for the 2011 WSOPE and what a decision that turned out to be. Hinrichsen bested an extremely tough final table that was the home to John Eames, Roberto Romanello and the hyper-aggressive Gianluca Speranza on his way to victory.
Aaron Lim, a man in the form of his life right now, won his first bracelet in April at the WSOP Asia-Pacific and in doing so became the first Australian to win a bracelet on Australian soil. Lim recently finished second in the European Poker Tour Berlin High Roller and would be a solid bet to become a multiple bracelet winner in Las Vegas this summer.
WSOP Bracelet Trivia
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