Matt Savage on WSOP Europe Bracelets: Not Like A Real Bracelet


Matt Savage joined us on This Week In Poker live from the WPT Borgata last Tuesday.

We never ever pick favorites. Never. Ever.

With that said, our interview with Matt Savage last Tuesday on This Week In Poker was our favorite so far. Lots of solid topics covered, and great questions submitted from our viewers, including one from Jay “WhoJedi” Newnum on whether WSOP bracelets should be awarded outside of Vegas.

“I don’t like it,” said Savage. “I don’t think it’s like a real bracelet.”

Savage continued, “World Series of Poker was founded in Las Vegas. That’s kinda what it’s about.”

Listen to his full response here and tell us what you think about bracelets awarded outside of Las Vegas in the comments below.

Other topics covered with Matt Savage included:

:: Whether Allen “Chainsaw” Kessler has ever suggested something he has agreed with [watch]

:: The rumor about the Rio being sold and where the WSOP may be moving to next [watch]

:: Streaming final tables online [watch]

:: The Commerce Casino’s controversial stance on HR 2267 [watch]

:: The Royal Flush Girls [watch]

:: Favorite change with the new season of the WPT [watch]

You can watch the full episode with Savage, Bill Parks, Michele Lewis and Jess Welman by clicking the video below.


19 Responses

  1. Ty Stewart

    September 27, 2010 4:25 pm, Reply

    Matt Savage is now an authority on the integrity of bracelets?

    I wonder what he might say about his own WPT bracelets, awarded retro-actively after six seasons in a blatant attempt to borrow equity from the WSOP and confuse the marketplace…(or maybe could be reading iwrong the corporate release mentioning the WSOP founder by name?)…

    Sounds like sour grapes when your “biggest event in history” ($3.4MM prize pool) is still several million in prize pool less than the WSOPE main awarding a bracelet somehow not worthy to Mr. Savage.

    Footnote, the WSOPE is now a bigger and richer event than the WPT Championship. Even as the WPT schedules a value-priced option directly opposite the event.

    It doesn’t take an investigative journalist to understand Mr. Savage’s parent company is motivated to be antagonistic to other activities in the European marketplace. Well, resistant unless there is an way to be opportunistic (e.g. scheduling an event in London directly before the WSOPE)

    The WSOPE clearly has some of the most stacked fields of the year. The resumes of the players and the lack of dead money give these events a unique position on the calendar. Let the debate rage about which is a harder bracelet to win…beating small elite fields or navigating through large ones….but don’t disrespect the accomplishments of the players who are committed enough to their place in the game to come out to Europe and battle the best in the business.

    You tell Phi Laak and Gus Hansen they didn’t earn real bracelets here in London. I’m sure they felt their WPT bracelets received in the mail had already capped their career accomplishments.

  2. Grumbledook

    September 27, 2010 5:43 pm, Reply

    I actually think there are lots of events at the Vegas WSOP that don’t deserve bracelets.

    All the $1k events and the lower buyin Hold’em. The fact so many are given out now somewhat devalues them in my eyes at least. It is somewhat excusable for the lower buyin non hold’em games. Any event that has a duplicate in the same series though, neither /none of those should get a bracelet. Winning a bracelet used to mean you got to call yourself the world champion at that discipline before. Are there now 5 (or whatever) separate $1k hold’em world champions?

    If you take a look at the name of it as well WORLD Series of Poker. Why is it called the world series if ones outside a certain city aren’t deemed “worthy”. Maybe it counts as non US Americans are allowed to enter…

    I see this year there is going to be World Series of Poker Africa at the end of October as well. Iirc it is just two events, be nice if there was one event of each poker discipline. Speaking of which WSOPE is rather lacking in variety, they have even dropped the HORSE that happened in the first year.

    If anything I think the expansion may actually help the WSOP brand, the vegas series is being milked way to much. I’m probably not alone in thinking the worth of some of those bracelets has dropped significantly. Scarcity helps make something valuable, giving them out like sweets at Halloween isn’t the way to go.

  3. dan michalski

    September 28, 2010 2:13 am, Reply

    Gotta say, I agree with Ty. I get in this fight with BJ all the time about which bracelets “count” the most — and naturally he (and Savage here) are just wrong.

    WSOPE absolutely should be considered a “real” bracelet — arguably even more so than bracelets in non-open. Likewise for the new Circuit Champion Whatever It’s Caled … and I like the idea of having “exhibition” non-bracelet events such as South Africa and Dream Team Poker.

    Also glad to see Ty stepping up willing to challenge the much-trumpeted Savage, who in many ways is Ty’s direct competition as it pertains to poker-brand execs. Suspect he’ll make a good guest on a future episode of TWIP.

  4. BJ Nemeth

    September 28, 2010 6:13 am, Reply

    It’s not up to Harrah’s or one or two journalists to determine whether or not one bracelet is worth another. It’s up to the entire poker community.

    Looking back, bracelets in different events have never been weighed differently, except for the Main Event and the recently-introduced $50K Players Championship. Other than that, a razz bracelet is worth the same as a 3,000-player NLHE bracelet is worth the same as a $5K PLO bracelet.

    (Closed-event bracelets are a clear exception. No pro weighs a bracelet in the ladies event or the casino-employees event the same as an open bracelet. And I haven’t verified it yet, but I’ve heard that casino-employee bracelet winners weren’t listed on the TOC ballot — which shows that Harrah’s doesn’t necessarily weigh all bracelets equally either.)

    When it comes to WSOP-E bracelets, they are treated a bit differently. Annette Obrestad is the youngest player to ever win a WSOP bracelet, but it is usually asterisked since you only need to be 18 to play in Europe. So there’s the youngest to win a bracelet in Vegas, and the youngest to win a bracelet in Europe. Also, very few people call Obrestad’s bracelet a “Main Event bracelet.” It’s more often qualified as a “WSOP Europe bracelet.”

    Another key differentiator is the bracelet bets among players. If all bracelets are equal, it would never be an issue. But every major bracelet bet addresses the standing of a WSOP-E victory. Some bets count those bracelets, some bets don’t, and some bets only use it as a partial victory — if Ivey wins a WSOP-E bracelet, he doesn’t win his bracelet bet, but he doesn’t lose it either.

    If all bracelets were identical, these special exceptions wouldn’t need to be made, and would seem absurd. Have you heard of a bracelet bet that only includes events with a certain buy-in, or doesn’t count stud events?

    Having said that, I would never suggest that a WPT bracelet counts the same, or a bracelet awarded for any other non-WSOP event. If Hellmuth wins a WPT title, he might proclaim it to be his 12th bracelet, but I have a feeling everyone else would laugh at him and consider him to have 11 bracelets.

    When we say “bracelet” in this sense, we don’t mean any physical piece of wrist jewelry awarded for winning a poker tournament. When players count bracelets, they’re talking about trophies specific to the World Series of Poker. Nothing else counts.

    But when Harrah’s dramatically changes the circumstances for winning a bracelet (like going to Europe or qualifying through specific regional events), it’s up to the community as a whole to decide whether those bracelets are respected in the same way.

  5. Ty Stewart

    September 28, 2010 7:19 am, Reply

    Well, considering the prize pool and the (non-paid) media coverage….I think the community as a whole has pretty well made up its mind.

    Instead of trying to stain what has been a great event in Europe (one without question good for the industry) i’d applaud Mr. Savage if he could use his role as tour director to come up with new traditions and trophies for winning WPT titles. We’ve felt as you have that “Nothing Else Counts” when it comes to bracelets in the minds of the players, but it may be time to take a more formal approach to defense of our intellectual property.

    I’ve had the good fortune of having several conversations with Jack Binion about the spirit of the bracelet and the vision for the series overall…Most recently when I asked him to come present Ivey’s 8th. The Binion family had a very simple and pure goal….bring together the best poker players in the world. With those who have honored us with their presence here in London, I do feel confident saying mission accomplished.

  6. danm

    September 28, 2010 10:46 am, Reply

    bj, you, and now maybe savage, are the only ones i know “asterisking” WSOPE.

    i swore to self i wasn’t gonna pollute the good space of WCP with nitpicking, but i gotta weigh in at least this once more.

    with all due respect, matt’s saying the idea of traveling around the world giving out bracelets being somewhat disingenuous (i’m paraphrasing) … well that sounds kinda disingenuous, though understandable. I’m sure the WPT would prefer the WSOP stick to Las Vegas, or at least Harrah’s properties.

    but the notion that the WSOP only really counts in Vegas … well that has me shaking my head saying, “I know I work with these people in some capacity, and generally I consider them both really smart. But have I been overestimating their intelligence?”

    The argument can’t be about prize money — and I’m not sure anyone’s really brought that up much — because if there was a certain minimum in play, then at least two of Ivey’s bracelets probably shouldn’t count.

    if you’re gonna base non-asteriks on field size … well no one seems to be suggesting that … because if they did then a couple of Phil Ivey’s bracelets might have to be downgraded (or askterisked).

    So is it about geography? If that’s the issue, well I’m gonna guess the “framer’s intent” for the WSOP had more to do with WORLD than Las Vegas.

    So the only thing that leaves us with is history and tradition. But that argument falls apart as soon as we start giving proper credit for any bracelet not won at Binion’s.

    Beyond the above three possibilities, what else could possibly make one bracelet (non-major-major bracelet like the ME or 50k Mix) more special than the others? I’ve yet to hear a reasonable answer. Oh, other than that only stuff that happens in the US really matters. (Those World’s Fairs have all been totally stupid since New Orleans and Knoxville.)

    I swear I’m not just trying to ride hide behind Ty in beating up on Matt … who as far as I know hasn’t put an asterisk yet by whatever hardware they’re giving out at WPT Marrakech … but in a back-alley street brawl like my chances with Stewart over Savage and BJ. Heck, you guys could even add Allen Kessler!

  7. danm

    September 28, 2010 10:49 am, Reply

    oops, now i remember why i prefer to have such battles on my own turf — where i have the edge of being able to edit my own comments while the readers don’t.

  8. F-Train

    September 28, 2010 11:27 am, Reply

    I think the main reason why people discount the value of WSOP-E bracelets over WSOP-LV bracelets is because WSOP-E isn’t as much of a draw for, and doesn’t get nearly as much attention from, the community as a whole. Sure, many of the top pros make the journey to London for WSOP-E. Sure, WSOP-E gets media coverage. (BTW, Ty shouldn’t kid himself on this point. Someone always pays for WSOP-LV media coverage, or it wouldn’t be there. It might not be Harrah’s but someone is paying. That’s the economic reality of poker media in 2010.)

    But the top pros account for an exceedingly small percentage of the poker community at large. Jo Grinder doesn’t qualify online for the WSOP-E the way he/she does for WSOP-LV. Jo Grinder doesn’t make the trip over to London. And Jo Grinder doesn’t follow the media coverage or the television productions of WSOP-E nearly as much as he/she does for WSOP-LV. Marketing/branding fail? Perhaps. But maybe the community at large has decided for itself that WSOP-E bracelets are the red-headed step-children of WSOP bracelets.

    Blame the online sites if you want (though really the WSOP wouldn’t be where it is today without the online sites) but WSOP-LV is truly regard as the live, world championship of poker. Many people view WSOP-E as little more than a money grab by Harrah’s because how you can have more than one world championship per year?

  9. Steve

    September 28, 2010 12:48 pm, Reply

    Ok I’ll chime in.
    BJ I love you very much but your arguements are kinda silly, wether or not its worthy of being included in bracelet bets or that anyone but the WSOP determines whats worthy are just silly.
    The WSOP is the sole determiner of what tournaments are worthy of bracelet’s. Its a WSOP Bracelet, its what you win when you win a WSOP Event. They due an excellent job of determing what should be a bracelet or not, circuits are rings as is the upcoming SAfrica event. but I wouldnt mind seeing less events during the main event. The WSOPE fields are the toughest in the world, Annette winning shouldnt be astericked because she’s under 21, it only makes it that more impressive.
    As far as the community determining it. Who is that exactly? Attendance is huge at WSOPE, especially from the pros, the media coverage is there in full. So it seems the ‘community’ approves of the WSOPE as a major event and worthy of elite status (bracelet).
    I am sure that any jo grinder as ftrain puts it, also looks at WSOPE as a major event and worthy of bracelet status. I know alot of jo grinder’s and they all look at both the WSOPLV and WSOPE as majors.
    WPT Titles are major wins as well as EPT titles, WCOOP titles and most PokerStars Tours as well. They are all hard to come by and the winners of them deserve great praise. I’ve noticed the media now refer to WCOOP titles as bracelets too, do they send bracelets to the winners. WPT sends bracelets now too is that what I am to understand that now a bracelet refers to any major poker win. If so then the exclusivity of them is long gone and the arguement over for surely WSOPE is more bracelet worthy than other sparsely attended WPT events.
    I wonder what Barry Schulman would say.

  10. change100

    September 28, 2010 2:18 pm, Reply

    Does John Juanda have three WSOP bracelets or four? Do Gus Hansen and Phil Laak have one apiece or none? If Phil Hellmuth won an event in London would he still embroider an “11” on the side of his hats or a “12?”

    A WSOPE bracelet is a WSOP bracelet. Period. I value them the same way. Each has their own hurdle when it comes to winning– massive minefields in Vegas and arguably the most skilled field you’ll find anywhere on the globe in London.

    However, regarding Mr. Stewart’s comment about “non-paid” media– it doesn’t matter what tour the poker media covers, WSOP, WSOP-C, WPT, EPT, LAPT, etc. The media is there because in one way or another some online poker site is paying our salaries. That’s just the reality seven years post-boom. Tournament reporting has always been a loss leader and it is even more so today. And if technological advances keep trending the way they are with more live streaming, etc… a lot of us will be out of work by this time next year.

  11. Anonymous

    June 7, 2011 6:24 am, Reply

    I saw at the end of this year in November, and the World Series of Poker in Africa. IIRC there are only two events, and whether each of a disciplined poker. Speaking of WSOPE species is very rare.

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  12. Anonymous

    June 28, 2011 4:55 am, Reply

    I also saw the interview with Matt Savage last Tuesday. He has such a great knowledge about the Poker game. I like to play poker game but I have not so much knowledge about it.

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  13. Anonymous

    July 6, 2011 9:26 am, Reply

    It is an interesting post. I like any news about poker game. Because of poker is my favourite time pass. I only spend my money in poker game. 

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