WSOP 2015 Merchandising: From T-Shirts to Tax Prep, Poker Players Bought It

7 min read

WSOP 2015 is close to over, and not only will many players go home with more moolah than they came with, so will many of the event’s ubiquitous vendors.

WSOP 2015 retail sales
World Series of Poker 2015 may be almost over, but there are plenty of merchandise souvenirs for you to take home as memories. (Image:

Once upon a time, the World Series of Poker was purely about gamblers testing their skills to find out who was the best in the world at their favorite game. Those days are now long gone, though.

With television and media coverage, sponsorship deals everywhere you look, and tens of thousands of people descending upon the Rio to play or watch the World Series, merchandising has also taken on a prominent role in the annual WSOP festivities.

Sure, you can pick up a World Series of Poker t-shirt or a hat, but today the options for buying goods and services at the WSOP go well beyond that. I took a look around the Rio Convention Center to see just what people were selling, and buying, at the WSOP 2015.

Official Merchandise Flies Off the Shelves

“This has been the best year that the WSOP has ever had for selling merchandise,” I was told by Joel Robinson, who works at the official World Series merchandise store. And you couldn’t miss it this year, with the WSOP’s one-stop shop for apparel and collectibles prominently placed in the Pavilion, if you walked from the Rio’s hotel/casino into the Convention Center, you couldn’t help but walk directly past a bevy of merch up for grabs.

WSOP 2015 retail sales
The WSOP store in the Rio’s Rotunda is by far the largest retail outlet in the Rio Convention Center. (Image:

The biggest seller of the year has been the official Main Event jacket, in both grey and black ($74.59, including tax).

When I spoke to Robinson, only the grey jacket was still available, and the only remaining size was 2XL. Main Event t-shirts have also been very popular this year, as well as the Black Clover-branded “Live Lucky” jacket, which had also sold out by the time the Main Event began.

But people were purchasing more than just clothing from the WSOP. Chips and coins proved to be popular souvenirs for players and fans of the poker festival, with a limited edition, platinum-plated series of 300 collectible coins also selling out well before the end of the event series.

Vendors Pack Convention Center Hallway

But the official Series merch booth was only the beginning this year, as vendors could be found up and down the main hallway outside of the Pavilion, Brasilia, and Amazon Rooms. If you can think of a poker-related product or service you might want, chances are you could find it here.

Looking to improve your game? Gripsed Poker Training was on hand to sell books, while Crush Live Poker offered subscriptions to their video training site, complete with special poker chips that offered a coupon code.

“We’re an online training site primarily focused on cash games,” said Debora Alasu of Crush Live Poker, who stood at a small booth featuring some impressive chip stacks. “We take videos and commentate on them, walking viewers through hands and letting you know how the players performed.”

Run It Once merch WSOP 2015
Run It Once offers both casual chic clothing and poker training at WSOP 2015. (Image:

Another small booth featured clothing from 3Bet Poker and Jason Somerville’s Run It Up web series.

At least one vendor combined both poker training and apparel: Run It Once had information on subscriptions to their training site (which features content from top pros like Phil Galfond, Ben Sulsky, and dozens of others) as well as high-end shirts and hoodies that looked like they might be more at home at an Abercrombie and Fitch than in the middle of a poker tournament.

If you were searching for something to wear that might actually improve your odds at the table, the Blue Shark Optics booth was worth a look. The eyewear company sells sunglasses specifically designed for poker players.

“The lenses are clear, allowing you to see the table, while still hiding your eyes,” said Kerry Karoutsos, owner of Blue Shark Optics. “They get rid of much of the stress your eyes go through when you wear dark sunglasses, meaning your eyes don’t get as tired.”

According to Karoutsos, his company’s success is based on the fact that players can tell the difference between their products and an average, off-the-shelf pair of sunglasses.

“We’ve had some great success this year,” he said, saying that players were impressed when they demoed the sunglasses in the poker rooms. “Hopefully, we’ll see a few of them at the final table.”

What to Do After You Win

You’ve watched some training videos, geared up for the final table, and now you are ready to go home with your first WSOP gold bracelet. There’s only one question left: what do you do with all that money, not to mention the taxes that come with it?

Tax specialists WSOP 2015
If you’re not sure how to handle your poker winnings, Kondler & Associates promise to guide you through the taxation process of your home country. (Image:

Don’t worry, just stop by the booth of Kondler & Associates, CPAs and poker tax specialists. According to their advertising, they have represented clients who have won more than $30 million at the WSOP, and they’re ready to advise players from nearly anywhere in the world on their tax options and responsibilities.

“We have a lot of players in the United States, but we’ve realized that there is more of a demand for international taxes than we thought,” said Raymond Kondler, CFO and managing partner of Kondler & Associates. “You name it: Canada, Brazil, any part of Europe. Even players in countries that have tax treaties need help, as many of them have never filed for taxes in the United States before.”

If you happen to be the next player to score a huge cash at the WSOP, Kondler has a word of advice for you, and that is not to wait until tax time to create a plan.

“We recommend coming sooner rather than later, because you can start planning right now for the rest of the year,” he said. “We see people who have just won bracelets and are not sure what to do what to do, and we can help them plan out the rest of their year.”

WSOP 2015 Chip keychains for sale
Chipped up: If you couldn’t win any chips this year, at least there were plenty on sale to take home as souvenirs. (Image:

If you weren’t lucky enough to win and have to worry about such things, then at least you have one less thing to stress about for the rest of 2015. And even if you’re nearly broke after busting out of another tournament, you can still pick up a memento of your time at the WSOP on your way out: official souvenir chips start at just 75 cents.

But hurry, because once the Main Event November Nine are determined (presumably by end of day Tuesday), you’ll have to wait another year to get your fill of World Series merchandise.

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