There’s no greater accolade than a World Series of Poker bracelet. Millions of players around the world dream of one day winning their own piece of WSOP history. Anyone with the gall enough to wear one of the 14 karat, diamond encrusted bands is instantly marked as either a very skilled or very lucky player. If there’s one thing shameless self promoter Phil Hellmuth likes to mention more than anything else, it’s that he has more bracelets than anyone else in the history of poker. That he places this accolade above all others in his arsenal of impressive feats speaks to the high esteem in which the poker community holds a WSOP bracelet.
For that reason, it’s very rare to hear of a player selling off one of these valuable commemorative awards. Even more rare is to discover that someone has sold one for personal gain, rather than to raise money for some pet charity. Perhaps unprecedented is the situation T.J. Cloutier’s 2005 WSOP bracelet finds itself in. According to an auction on eBay, the Plano Pawn Shop “acquired” the gold bracelet T.J. received for winning a $5,000 No Limit Hold ’em tournament at the 2005 World Series. Mr. Cloutier is one of the most successful WSOP competitors of all time, having picked up $4.3 million of his $9.7 million career tournament winnings from the event. He does have five other bracelets with which to decorate his mantelpiece, but that hardly explains why he would decide to part with such a valuable item.
The Plano Pawn shop apparently specialize in “Jewelery and Guns” and have previously sold a few hundred items on eBay. Most people would probably call this a hoax, given the poorly constructed eBay advert and copy-and-pasted Wikipedia bio of Cloutier. However, they have a number of convincing photos and the physical shop itself is located just 10 minutes drive from T.J.’s Texas residence. There are 4 days left to buy the item and bidding starts at $2,999. You can also pick up another of T.J’s tournament trophies, his 14 karat white gold bracelet awarded for victory in the 2007 Scotty Nguyen Poker Challenge IV. Bidding on this item starts at a cut-price $2,499.
Why T.J. Cloutier felt the need to sell two of his bracelets to a Texas pawn shop is as yet unknown. He has not had the most profitable two years on the live tournament circuit, making two small cashes last year and two decent sized money finishes in 2008. He has accrued just $84,000 from live tournaments in the last two years. However, old school gamblers are typically happy to lend money to a friend in need, especially when the debtor has the proven poker skills needed to turn it into profit.