On August 3, World Series of Poker (WSOP) Vice President Jack Effel “handed out” the highly-coveted gold bracelets to the recent winners of the ongoing Online Bracelet Series, through a virtual ceremony, with players appearing on Skype to receive poker’s most coveted prize, making their victory more real.
In the traditional live setting, the awarding of bracelets usually take place a day after the player wins an event. The winner receives the bracelet onstage at the Rio Convention Center, with the national anthem of his or her country being played in the background. Effel gives a short speech and congratulates the winners before they hold their bracelets up and receive a round of applause from everyone at the venue.
Things are so much different now due to COVID-19, but the team at WSOP want players to know that while the competition has moved to the virtual felts, “the bracelet is very real”. And this is why organizers have made an effort to put together an online ceremony, despite the tedious technical tasks involved in it.
You might be wondering how players are able to get hold of their bracelets, considering they’re playing from different locations. Let’s take a look at the various processes the WSOP team had to go through to make things happen.
The WSOP Bracelet Process     
Even before Effel “places” the bracelet to the winner’s wrist via a Skype call, WSOP Director Gregory Chochon coordinates with Super Bowl rings producer Jostens on the design of the bracelets. And this process isn’t as easy as it seems. The WSOP gold bracelet, which is generally valued at around $2,000,  is among poker’s most sought-after awards, which is why Cochon has to personally inspect them to make sure their prestige and value are maintained.
Because the bracelet ceremonies are to be held virtually, Cochon takes the bracelets to the PokerGO studio where a small production team, alongside Effel, are busy with preparations for the virtual awarding.
The studio is manned by no other than poker TV producer Mori Eskandani. The Poker Hall of Fame inductee then communicates with studio director Jason Wald on how the ceremonies should be carried out. Wald directs everyone to make the ceremonies feel more special for the players. Once the go signal is given, the virtual ceremonies begin.
The August 3 ceremonies saw nine players being awarded with their respective bracelets. The first player to appear on Skype was Kevin Gerhart, the winner of Event #20: $500 Pot-Limit Omaha six-handed.
As the winners show up on the screen, the production staff have to make sure the focus is on the players, that they must appear nicely on the screen, with adequate lighting and proper framing. As the ceremony starts, Effel delivers a short introduction, he then asks the player to hold his or her wrist to the screen and then virtually places the bracelet on the winner who gives a short message before Effel proceeds on to the next awardee.
The awarding takes about five minutes, and just like how things work in the live awarding, the staff at the control room also give a roaring applause to the winners. The process is repeated until the ceremonies conclude.
Bracelet Unboxing
Among other winners who were awarded with bracelets during the August 3 ceremonies were Ian Steinman, the player who ended up at the top of the leaderboard race during the American leg of the Online Bracelet Series on WSOP.com. Winning his maiden bracelet is a dream come true for Steinman who has been grinding tournament for quite a long time.
World Poker Tour commentator Tony Dunst, winner of the $777 NLH Six-Max event, received his bracelet as well, so did American poker pro Nahrain Tamero who won the $1,000 NLH Championship on WSOP.com.
WSOP operations manager Johnny Fernandez then sends the bracelets to the players through FedEx. Some players have posted videos of them receiving their respective packages, a trend now known as “bracelet unboxing”.

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