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The Sad Truth

Chasse Rehwinkel

I gamble, therefore I write...or I write, therefore I gamble...honestly, they're pretty similar professions…

NBC's 4th National Heads-Up Poker Championship

This past weekend, 23 year-old Aussie pro Tyron Krost took down his first major victory, claiming the top prize at this year's Aussie Millions.

The victory made Krost a millionaire instantly. Said the newly minted champion after his big win, "This is totally unbelievable--it is beyond my wildest dreams."

As for the money, Krost simply told reporters that the enormity of his victory hadn't sunk in yet and that he had no idea what he was going to do with all of his new found wealth.

Of course it was a big day for Krost, but it was also a big day for the Aussie Millions and the tournament's host casino, the Crown Casino in Melbourne, for both will most likely profit from Krost's meteoric rise this weekend, from an online amateur to a millionaire poker pro all because of the Aussie Millions Main Event.

I say all this because, while I'll always be one of the first people to promote poker as a magnificent game, I also think things must be celebrated in perspective.

While Krost was navigating through a tough Aussie field on his way to claim the top prize, Cake Poker--a smaller online poker site--confirmed that they had made the winning bid of 4,006 for an authentic WSOP bracelet that had turned up on eBay.

Who would sell a WSOP bracelet, the most prized trophy in all of poker, on eBay you ask?

The answer: a pawn shop in Plano, Texas.

The sad story apparently begins with poker Hall of Famer T.J Cloutier. Cloutier is a legendary road gambler who has compiled an impressive collection of career victories, highlighted by six WSOP bracelets and over $9 million in total tournament winnings.

However, Cloutier has also been known to have the bankroll crushing leak of playing too much in the pit, specifically throwing dice.

Cloutier has refused to comment too much about his lost bracelet, simply stating on a poker radio show recently, "Yeah, it's mine. I was short. I pawned it. I tried to get it back with my ticket but I was too late."

The buyer, Cake Poker, has stated that they will return the bracelet to its rightful owner, Cloutier, but T.J.'s story begs a point that I think has been lost since the explosion of poker's popularity in 2003.

In spite of TV deals, site sponsorships and big time product endorsements, the game of poker is still poker. Poker is still a game of enormous swings and strong temptations.

The victims of poker's pitfalls reads like a venerable all-star list, online poker superstar Brian Townsend went bell-up at the height of his popularity a few years back, Nick "The Greek" Dandolos could only afford to play in low stake draw poker games at the end of his life and, of course, "the Kid," Stu Ungar, was found dead in the Oasis Motel after years of drug abuse, with a little over $800 on him.

I guess what I'm saying poker fans is celebrate young Tyron Krost's excellent play and good fortune, but always keep in mind that poker is still a dangerous game.

Have fun, just stay safe and always remember your limits.



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