Nirvana Producer Steve Albini Wins WSOP H.O.R.S.E. Bracelet, Drops It, Breaks It

Posted on: June 20, 2022, 12:33h. 

Last updated on: June 20, 2022, 02:31h.

Record producer Steve Albini has been making noise in the poker world. The former Big Black punk rocker won his second WSOP bracelet Saturday, taking down the $1,500 H.O.R.S.E. tournament for $196,089.

Steve Albini
Steve Albini is awesome at H.O.R.S.E., arguably poker’s toughest tournament format. Who knew? (Image: NME)

Albini outlasted 773 players in one of poker’s toughest disciplines to claim the title. On receiving the coveted bracelet, he promptly dropped it and broke it. Still, $200k and a broken gold bracelet are not bad for a couple of days’ work.

“Everything in my life comes in pieces, in parts,” Albini, whose bracelet is also in parts, told  “Poker is one part of my life, so when I’m playing poker, I try to commit to it. I try to take it seriously. I try to make sure I devote the attention to it that it deserves as an occupation.”

‘Felt Like a Fluke’

Albini’s first bracelet came in a 7-card stud event in 2018. On Saturday, he said both wins felt like “flukes.” But H.O.R.S.E tournaments are no picnics, and those who win them at this level command respect in the poker world.

The acronym describes five different poker variations, Texas hold’em, Omaha hi-lo split eight or better, razz, 7-card stud, and 7-card stud hi-low split eight or better. This means a player must be proficient in not one game, but five. Unlike in hold’em tournaments, there are few amateur players in the mix.

Since Albini is the one of few producers who refuses take royalties from bands he works with, we won’t begrudge him his windfall.

The 59-year-old says he likes to be paid “like a plumber,” with a one-off fee, and calls ongoing royalties claimed by most producers “unethical.” Albini renounced the multiple millions of dollars he would have earned for his work on Nirvana’s In Utero.     

Albini has also produced albums for The Pixies, The Breeders, Page and Plant, The Stooges, and Jarvis Cocker, among many others.

For Whom the Bell Tolls

Every time Albini won a pot on Saturday’s final table, he would ring a small bell, a gimmick inspired by his friend, the poker player Brandon Shack-Harris, according to PokerNews.

“Brandon Shack-Harris got an ornate hotel bell that he would ding at the table when he was going to check. I thought it was really charming and he brought it here so the rail could ding when I won a pot,” Albini explained.

“It got irritating to some of the other players, so I brought it to the table so anyone who wanted to could celebrate by ringing the bell.”