There is always one topic that seems to surface in forums and news comment sections, to try to cast a shadow over player accomplishments made over WSOP.
It’s usually started by a statement along the lines of “Yeah, but how much did he or she actually spend to win it?”, or “Well, if I was a sponsored pro who had all my buy-ins paid for and played every event, I would like my chances too!”
The posted opinion is usually referring to a mainstream name, top tournament leader board winner or, “patched pro” at the very least. A very well written article by friend Chad Holloway regarding Phil Hellmuth’s career and accomplishments recently brought the topic back to mind.
So are some of the world’s most popular players put on pedestals for owning a WSOP bracelet or two, (maybe even almost a dozen), going deep into the red chasing a bracelet they could probably buy a hundred of with the money they invested in the chase?
Is all for show and in reality proves nothing than they just have the biggest bankrolls and backers?
Depending on how you look at, the answer can be both Yes and No; more importantly why those players are in the position to do so is what should give their skills at the table maximum credibility.
Yes, it is true that many of the players are backed in some way, but that luxury came from proving that they could do it on past occasions, usually on their own dime. It’s not until great “consistency” is established that people are normally going to take a gamble, especially at the larger buy-ins and tough fields presented by the World Series of Poker.
It’s also true that many “A” list players come with a price tag, receiving buy-ins and appearance fees that save more of the old bankroll to invest of the WSOP, but that list is very short and again, they have worked hard to become fan favorites and had much of their schedule set by others, so in that sense, they are truly not being given anything without “putting out” in return. For the most part, patched pros may get a “signing fee” and bonuses based on performance and media coverage, but in-between, if they want to get paid, they most invest their own money and play as profitably as they can, with better than most “rake-back” rewards the paycheck they can choose to invest in buy-ins if they desire.
Unless they win actually do win a bracelet, it’s true, many of the players playing a high volume will be “stuck” and the name of the game is to make money in the books of most players and how we keep score. Most. Mike “The Grinder” Mizrachi recently tweeted; “Bad, Bad, start to my WSOP, 0-17 :(.Played $92,000 in events! Bad, Bad Run! No Complaints! Have to stay focused! Never Give Up! It Happens!” Mizrachi then continued; “If I go 1-18, it might just be a victory :)”.
What has to be taken into consideration and what has been written by almost every “accepted authority” of the game is that tournaments are a long shot. Whether we like it or not, even the most skilled are not above the randomness of the turn of a card. What all of today’s players that are able to play event after event is that in one way or another they have become successful enough AND have the drive, to keep grinding away. The WSOP and pursuit of its trophy maybe a money pit some years, but overall is part of a much larger statistic. If a player is beating the cash games and other softer fields, plain and simple, they are beating the game, provided they don’t go broke doing it. As far as does that make them one of the best? That is and will always be a loaded question.
Poker is a game that at the end of every tournament, one player is declared the winner, or at least one person considers him or herself the winner in the case of a chop. Almost every player who enters a tournament feels they are one of the best, that’s the competitive nature of the game. For that reason alone, many will always question just how good their opponents really are. Joe Hachem once explained in a TV documentary titled “Poker Face” how even after winning the Main Event, he and others still felt like he needed to prove himself to his peers and half killed himself doing it. The criticism and scrutiny that Hellmuth is still under, even owning the most bracelets, only adds merit to this common opinion.
“Every dog has it’s day”, so does a bracelet really prove anything?
To some it does and to others it never will, usually those with-out one. It’s a status symbol and for the players that have achieved their money goals, there is nothing really left but bragging rights. Amongst them, titles and trophies are used to keep score, as an honest representation of ROI is just too much to measure and can change drastically from one day to the next.
As the saying signifies, there are many others that will take far fewer “shots” and also win a bracelet; only to go on to never accomplish anything near as notable on the felts again. Does this also just add to the argument the “gold” doesn’t prove anything?
On one side of the fence it certainly does and there is no doubt that many of the most consistent and profitable players in the world don’t and may never own one. It’s also true that fields were much smaller and knowledge of the game much less wide spread “back in the day”, but by that argument credit for having learned to win on their own, and continue to do so today, must still be given.
I have always had trouble accepting the attitude that any player is “more than good enough”, they just aren’t in the same financial position. That only means they need to play more, win more, sell more, try harder, etc. And if that doesn’t work, they have to try harder next year and the year after that and so on. Because as far as what the true costs to win a WSOP bracelet seems to be that every player that owns one looks to have paid; it’s a lot of dedication, some bankroll variation, overcoming the negative vibes of those who don’t believe you can, trying again after you fail and wanting it just a little more than the other guy.
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