A few days ago an ad appeared on ebay.com for TJ Cloutier's 2005 WSOP bracelet. Starting bid: $2,999.
Put aside the easy assumptions that Cloutier lost so much playing dice that he's forced to sell his hardware and the ad has actually sparked some interesting debate.
As a side note the ad says the bracelet was "acquired" from Cloutier, and the seller's name is planopawnshop. Draw your own conclusions.
David Sklansky started a thread on two plus two this morning posing the question, "At what price is a WSOP bracelet sale not tacky?"
This question on its own isn't of much import, considering that the bracelet in question is of no real historical significance. It's just one of the hundreds handed out over the last few decades.
But what if the bracelet for sale was noteworthy? What if it was the last Main Event bracelet Stu Ungar won before he passed away? What if it was the first Main Event bracelet won by Doyle Brunson?
Does poker memorabilia really exist and is there a group of people willing to pay top dollar for it? What does that say about poker's place in modern cultural history?
Personally I can't imagine a reason for wanting TJ Cloutier's 2005 bracelet but I have a feeling there would be a lot of interest if the piece played a big part in poker's shared heritage.
Sports are an immensly strong thread that ties a culture together and memorabilia is a way to own a part of it, to be able to hold it and touch it.
Despite the fact that poker has made it into the light only recently, for more than a century it's been there every step of the way. It shouldn't be surprising that people might want a part of it for themselves.