I am not one to seek attention, but I am fairly certain I would relish the fifteen minutes of fame that would come with winning a World Series of Poker bracelet. Of course, my fame would last more than fifteen minutes if I won the Main Event, but I would be more than satisfied with a good, old preliminary event victory. I would pose with my chips and cards so the media could get their obligatory winner shot, I would do all the interviews, and I would smile as WSOP Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack presented me my bracelet at a ceremony in the Amazon Room at the Rio the next day.
But one player at the WSOP this summer was definitely not like me. Richard Austin won the $5,000 Pot-Limit Omaha event, cashing for over $400,000. To the surprise of almost everybody, Austin decided to just enjoy the money and forego his fifteen minutes. He declined the post-tournament interview with the WSOP media, as well as the bracelet ceremony, scheduled for the following day. This is extremely odd. Almost everybody is more than happy to be interviewed after a win, even if it is in the wee hours of the morning. And most are pleased to have everybody in the Amazon Room feel jealous for just a few seconds as they get their bracelet. But not Richard Austin.
When I heard about this, I wasn’t sure what to think. I read a lot of opinions about it and many applauded Austin for on some level “sticking it to the man.” The players themselves supply the prize pool for the tournaments. They don’t see one cent of any money going to Harrah’s from WSOP sponsors. So what does a player owe to the WSOP? A bland interview? Please.
And what about that bracelet ceremony the next day? Many feel it is obnoxious. Why should the players in the room have to be interrupted while you are being handed your bracelet? And what’s with the national anthem being played? This guy Austin is the man.
I do understand those sentiments. I do. But I don’t share them. Barring unusual circumstances (which, to be fair, might exist with Austin – there was some unconfirmed talk that he may have social anxiety disorder), those who win WSOP events should take the time to put on a happy face (which they should have, anyway) and go along with the WSOP’s harmless wishes.
I know ESPN isn’t showing much in the way of preliminary events this year, but what if something like this happened in previous years and the player who won a tournament refused an interview that would have been televised? And what if he had an online poker sponsor, like Party Poker? I can’t imagine Party Poker would be too happy about losing chance to see its name associated on the air with a WSOP bracelet.
And apart from a lost marketing opportunity, it just looks bad. Sponsors support the players, so the players need to support their sponsors. Party Poker, Full Tilt Poker, PokerStars, whoever – none of them would like to hear that one of their players is being a thorn in the side of WSOP officials. No reasonable person would purposely think less of a sponsor because of the actions of its player in a situation like this, but an unconscious negative association could be made, which could to some extent affect future dealings with that sponsor, with it is on a business-to-business level or a business-to-customer level.
The bottom line is this: it’s really not hard to answer a few media questions and step up on a podium to receive a bracelet. If you have the ability to accommodate the WSOP staff for little things like this, just do it. Don’t pick some fight that nobody is going to remember next year, anyway.

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