Continuing the tradition started in 2009, all World Series of Poker bracelet winners will be treated to a special ceremony the day after their victory.
Indeed, many players wait a lifetime for their chance to parade across the grand stage at the WSOP, to be recognized in front of their peers. Some players never get that chance This year, some of the ceremonies have included a special bonus. Each winner has been given the option of publicly thanking those who may deserve an acknowledgement.
Nick Jivkov was honored in the June 2 ceremony, where his speech became a highlight of the event. Standing before a crowd of 1,800, he shared just how special his victory was, and what it meant to his family. Jivkov’s mother and father—immigrants from Bulgaria—later saw video of their son making what amounts to his “acceptance speech.” No doubt, they watched their son with great pride as he stood at full attention during the playing of Mila Rodino, the national anthem of their native land, Bulgaria.
Critics have charged that poker is not the Olympic Games. They are right. Most poker players do not really align themselves by country. Moreover, there’s some merit in the argument that playing national anthems is an outdated, anachronistic practice. But the fact is, even though poker is arguably the most individualistic of pursuits, we are all part of something bigger and greater than ourselves, whether we care to admit it or not. We are a unique community of millions, made stronger by a collective love for the game we play. In a sense, we compete not just for ourselves, but for our families, our friends, those who root for us, and those who sometimes back us. The anthem is a moment to reflect upon that. Each standing witness has perhaps one or two minutes per day to ponder the possibilities that they might be next. That’s why the gold bracelet ceremony is important, and why it must continue and be respected.
Just ask Nick Jivkov, or any other WSOP gold bracelet champion who has proudly stood upon the stage of the poker world’s supreme competition and— at least, for one fleeting instant—basked in the limelight of one special moment of well-deserved glory.