Gold Wheelchairs, Bought Bracelets and a Death Contingency Plan

In the beginning, things were different.

As everyone in poker knows, WSOP bracelets didn't mean so much in the beginning.

The grinders, rounders and high rollers cared more about the money.

Many bracelets have even reportedly been bought throughout the years when heads-up.

In the 90s first prize was usually double the second prize. I would have surely taken first-prize money and second place if offered to me.

As I would today, even though the bracelets seem to get more valuable by the year. I guess that's why they keep multiplying -- and we seem to have not yet reached the tipping point.

Like a Rumor About a Gold Wheelchair

Real gold or not?

The most flagrant example of buying a bracelet would be when Hustler mogul Larry Flynt allegedly tried to buy players off before the final table.

He has bottomless pockets and on top of that had a big bet on himself as the winner. That would be cheating of course and I repeat that it is, to my knowledge, just a rumor.

Actually, it sounds as stupid as the rumor that his wheelchair is made of solid gold.

There are pretty persistent rumors that the same kind of thing has even happened in the Main Event.

If you believe grumpy old men, Amarillo Slim got the title in 1972 because Texas Dolly and Puggy didn't want the fame.

Mike Sexton Agrees (Mostly)

I hated the idea of postponing the Main Event final table for four months from the start. I still do.

A lot of players were positive. They believed Harrah’s that it would be a great chance to promote their names when they made the final table.

Sexton voiced similar concerns; Stewart replied in kind.

Given the last couple of years, with basically non-existing sponsorship deals, I don't want to hear that argument again.

There is only one reason that the November Nine still exists: because Caesars (which changed its name from Harrah’s in 2010) makes a lot of money.

Everything else is just hogwash. The Ambassador of Poker, Mike Sexton, agrees.

(Ed. note: For an in-depth counter-argument be sure to read WSOP executive director Ty Stewart’s lengthy replies in the comments.)

Four Months is a Long Time

I see the value of postponing the final table 1-2 days even though I'm against it. People can rest a little, give friends and family a chance to fly in and use the extra time to build up media hype.

Greg Merson
Merson was pretty good four months before he won, too.

But four months? Come on, that is a complete joke. Reasons why the whole November Nine experiment should be abandoned:

1. Of all the extra money made Caesars does not give back anything to the players. Even though it is the only argument they have – to make more money out of the event by more media attention

2. It is not fair

  • In four months everything can change. You can hire all kinds of experts and coaches. The November Nine is a 9-handed sit-n-go with completely new players.
  • Bad players have time to become world-class players. I can train a monkey to play perfect sit-n-go GTO in four months.
  • Amateurs might not have the time to put in the effort because they have a job they must attend.
  • Pro players can put together a formidable team of friends to analyze every opponent and every hand in real time since the hole cards are shown on a 15-minute delay. Poker is not an individual sport at the final table of the Main Event.

3. Somebody could die. Four months is a pretty long time and it is bound to happen. I'd like Stewart to explain their contingency plan for that. I guarantee that when it happens they will abandon the November Nine project the very next year.

(Ed. note: Again, read Ty Stewart's answers to all of these issues in the comments here.)

stu ungar poker
Stu Ungar

Don't Raise My Late Husband's Blind

If somebody does not show up – like if they die - the rules state that he or she will be anted away.

Stu Ungar was found unconscious on Day 3 of the Main Event in 1990. He was the chip leader and was anted away to ninth place.

What will they do today if somebody dies in the four-month break? Perhaps they will put a burning candle on the chair?

Perhaps the pregnant widow of the dead player will be in the crowd crying and shouting “Don’t raise my late husband's blind, you heartless man.”

What if you made the final table as a bigger chip leader than Jamie Gold in 2006? Since you're a much better player than him it would be a big inticement to the rest of the players if you disappeared.

People have been killed for a lot less equity than $5-6m. Your opponents wouldn't even have to kill you. They'd just need to arrange a kidnapping for two days or slide you an overdose of some kind.

About Ken Lennaárd:

Sweden's most controversial poker blogger Ken Lennaárd has been around the professional poker circuit for almost 20 years. Among his numerous accomplishments are Swedish Championships both live and online, three WSOP final tables and over $1.5m in live earnings. He's now bringing his singular poker voice to the English world via Look for new posts every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Note: Opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not represent the views of

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