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There are few sadder things in the world of poker than hearing about a great player forced to pawn one his own bracelets for some quick cash. Such was the fate which befell T.J. Cloutier a few weeks ago, when he handed over his $5,000 No Limit Hold ’em WSOP bracelet to the Plano Pawn Shop in Texas. That might have been the end of it, had Plano not decided to put the item up for auction on ebay. The eagle-eyed entities at Wicked Chops Poker caught wind of the sale and the news spread around the poker community like wildfire.

The starting bid looked a little ambitious at $2,999, but, no doubt thanks to the heavy publicity surrounding the auction, big bids started to flood in. Eventually, the item was sold for $4,006, although the identity of the purchaser remained a secret. That was until Cake Poker, one of the most popular online poker networks, put up a thinly veiled blog post concerning their recent ebay activities.

Wicked Chops also reported that the producers of the Hardcore Poker Show had contacted T.J. personally to confirm the validity of the bracelet. He was unwilling to appear on air, but did confess that, “yeah it’s mine. I was short, I pawned it. I tried to get it back with my ticket but I was too late.” Cloutier has $9.7 million in lifetime tournament winnings, putting him 4th on the Hendon Mob Inflation Adjusted All-Time Money List. Clearly most of this winnings are now nestling in someone else’s pockets, with a few commentators hinting that T.J.’s love of the high stakes craps table may have something to do with his bracelet flash sale.

After a little deliberation, Cake Poker has decided to do the honorable thing and return their $4,000 trinket to its rightful owner. While they do ensure poker fans that, “there will be no sacrilegious treatment of the artifact,” they are planning on taking it for a spin once or twice, before they return it to Mr. Cloutier. Bracelets are highly sought after in the world of poker and many onlookers have praised Cake for their generous decision. Poker funny-man and Bellagio strangler Tony Korfman, went so far as to add a comment to Cake’s post, congratulating them for, “following through,” on an idea he had himself contemplated.

At the time of writing, the bracelet was still en route to the Cake Poker headquarters and, after a short play-time period, it will returned to its former master. Although Cake claims they were motivated by the desire to own a real piece of poker memorabilia, this has also been an expensive, but highly successful PR exercise. With so much buzz around the sale, it may only be a matter of time before the buyer of another of T.J.’s pawned bracelets comes forward. For the $2,499 starting bid, another mystery user picked up Cloutier’s 2007 Scotty Nguyen Poker Challenge IV bracelet. Although less valuable than the WSOP variety, the pressure is now on its unknown owner to live up to Cake’s respectable return policy.