When most poker players sit down for their first hand at the World Series of Poker Main Event, they dream about two things: winning a ton of money and donning the coveted championship bracelet. Whether they satellite into the event at PokerStars or Party Poker, pay their own way, or sell a thousand pieces of their action, players all have the same dream.
Not Jeff Shulman.
The 34-year old editor of CardPlayer magazine has made the final table of the Main Event. He is a member of the illustrious November Nine. But, to the shock of most in the poker community, he has said that if he were to win the tournament, he would not accept the bracelet. In fact, he would “throw it in the garbage.”
As soon as word of this got out, many thought it stemmed from bitterness Shulman may feel towards Harrah’s for no longer having CardPlayer as the exclusive media partner of the WSOP after a two year run from 2005 through 2006. According to Shulman, this is not true. He told his magazine, “My comments have nothing to do with that, and everything to do with my disappointment in how the World Series is run. It used to be run by people who loved and really cared about poker, and had the players in mind, first and foremost. That mission’s been derailed by a few executives who now head the Series.”
He pointed to the unfortunate case of approximately 500 would-be competitors having to be turned away on the morning of Day 1D because the maximum capacity had been reached. Nevermind the fact that registration had been open since early spring – it was all Harrah’s fault. Of course, he also addressed his displeasure with how Harrah’s handled the media.
Shulman claims that he will jettison the bracelet in order to bring attention to the problems with the WSOP in hopes that others will be motivated to come up with solutions.
In my opinion, this whole “stand” Jeff Shulman is taking is foolish and makes him look childish. Millions of poker players around the world would love to have the opportunity he has, yet all he can think about is how he can bring attention to himself more than he would by simply winning. The Main Event champion is counted on, to one extent or another, to be an ambassador for poker. Sure, some, like Robert Varkonyi or Jerry Yang, decide not to become front line personalities, but they are still positive representatives of the game. Shulman has backed off his threat somewhat, saying he might auction the bracelet off for charity or something, but regardless, the negativity he would bring would tarnish the event.
Poker is having a hard enough time fighting the legal battle in the United States – what the game does not need is bad press surrounding the World Series of Poker. From everything I have heard, Harrah’s ran things pretty well this year. Sure, the WSOP has its problems, but Harrah’s officials don’t need to be made to look like crooks because someone now has both an agenda and a platform (not that CardPlayer isn’t a gigantic platform). Besides, one would think that a guy who makes his living putting out the industry’s biggest magazine would want to draw people into poker, not create negative exposure for the game.
Fortunately, there are several other skilled poker players at the final table, including one Phil Ivey, so there is a good chance that Jeff Shulman will be knocked out and the poker world won’t have to put up with his shenanigans. He has every right to speak his mind. He should just pick a better time and place to do so.

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