This week our old friend Pleno1 said something I could not agree with more, that major online tournaments should have trophies at the end of them.
I also genuinely think that people would rather win $9500+ this trophy than $10,000 lol
— Patrick Leonard (@padspoker) March 3, 2021
Not every MTT of course, a poker room would go out of business quickly if they had to ship a big metal gong to everyone who plays a $500 guaranteed MTT. But flagship events like the Sunday Million/Sunday Storm and any event from a prestigious series like WCOOP. UOS, Super Millions etc.
Poker players like to pretend they are 100% rational and only make decisions based on EV, but the reality is different. For whatever reason, the mythology around bracelets means thousands of poker players head to the WSOP (whether in Vegas, Europe, or online) and often play outside of their bankroll to win a piece of poker history. One of my most common interview questions over the years was “would you take a losing WSOP if you won a bracelet at the end of it” and about half the players said yes.
Again, poker players say they are rational, but we all know players, in some cases good players, who have taken bad deals at final tables to secure getting the trophy at the end of it. There have even been deals where the winner of an event walks away with less prize money than the runner-up just to be declared the champion.
As poker players we all know how quickly money can be spent or lost again, but winning a title is permanent, even if you sell the trophy on eBay. You will always be the ‘X Champion’ and that is something that cannot be taken away even if you stop playing. Just this week I got heads-up in a UOS event and the first thing I thought about, before the 1st place prize, was the fact that you can unlock a little trophy avatar on Unibet when you win one of those (I lost btw).
We all crave glory
So I would argue that if an operator bought and shipped custom trophies for their flagship Sunday Majors and series events, the increase in traffic would be enough to breakeven on the price of each trophy. Then you create some extra promotion when people share their trophies on social media.
Some online events already do this, most notably the WSOP that took place last year on GGPoker, which led to ‘unboxing videos’ for bracelets. Now would be the right time to make online poker trophies a cottage industry, given how many normally live events have moved to the online space because of lockdown.
Bracelet unboxing courtesy of @Matt_Bode79. Thanks for sharing ! pic.twitter.com/i3Tm9nHuTq
— WSOP (@WSOP) July 22, 2020
It’s not rational at all but online players crave glory and making memories just as much as live players. Or at least give us more custom trophy avatars.