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eBay, Logos, and the WSOP Final Table

by Jeff Shulman |  Published: Nov 14, 2008


Everyone is betting that Nov. 11 will be the most popular poker television night in the game's history. This is, after all, when the "November Nine" will face off in a delayed TV broadcast for the first prize of more than $9.1 million at the World Series of Poker main event. Two of the final-table players have taken a rather nontraditional route to secure additional sponsorship dollars for their TV time.

Ylon Schwartz, who sits in fifth chip position, started the trend of taking a viral approach to marketing one's torso at the poker table. He started an auction on eBay, with a starting bid of $37,500, offering "one lucky and smart bidder the chance to place a 10 Square Inch patch on his sleeve or a branded item to be placed on his chips or cards." Ylon's page stated, "We fully expect this auction to bid to $100000 to $300000 dollars." The auction was still open as we went to press, and so far, one bidder has pledged the opening-bid amount.

November Nine chip leader Dennis Phillips followed suit, but his eBay auction, while also offering up a prime logo spot on his jersey, had a slightly more altruistic twist. All proceeds from this auction will go to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Phillips, who already has committed to donate 1 percent of his final-table winnings to "Put a Bad Beat on Cancer" (his sponsor, PokerStars, will match this amount in full), is also a longtime supporter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. His brother was diagnosed with MS more than 10 years ago, and Dennis has supported local MS charities in his hometown of St. Louis, Missouri, ever since then.

Both Schwartz and Phillips, along with four other final-table participants, were scooped up by PokerStars for final-table sponsorship deals (Full Tilt is represented by the other three). With six of the top seven chip leaders sponsored by the site, another PokerStars player could soon join Chris Moneymaker, Greg Raymer, Joe Hachem, and Tom McEvoy as site-sponsored world champs.

The extraordinary growth of the main event is due, mainly, to sites like PokerStars. This year, the site awarded 2,008 main-event seats, and it continues to drive the growth of poker's most prestigious event. Take a look at the engine that is PokerStars on Page 56.