In a move to test the appeal of their recent addition to the main World Series of Poker event this summer in Las Vegas, Harrah's has recently announced a schedule change to the Caesars Palace stop on the Circuit this spring.
The World Series of Poker Circuit stop at Caesars Palace, which we be taking place from April 28th to May 11th, has added a $5,000 H.O.R.S.E. tournament to the schedule, to be played on May 2nd. Previous to this addition, No-Limit tournaments made up almost the entirety of the play of the event (with only one Omaha event breaking up the schedule). The Caesars tournament should be a great indoctrination for the new poker facilities at Caesars after a fifteen year absence. It should also serve as a training run for Caesars, as they will be hosting the WSOP Tournament of Champions that will take place before the start of the 36th World Series of Poker in late June.
The logic of the addition of this event is interesting. When the players complained that the tournament schedule for the World Series for this year was too dominated by No-Limit events, Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack listened to the complaints and added the largest (ranked by buy in) event in the history of the World Series. The $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. event that will be played out before the start of the $10,000 Championship Event promises to be a field dominated by the top stars of the game today. This $5,000 event is going to be looked at as a test to see if Harrah's made the correct decision.
The addition of this tournament is also interesting in that no other Circuit stop has or will have such a test of the appeal of H.O.R.S.E. With six more Circuit stops available before the Tournament of Champions, there were other Circuit events that could have been the test ground. More than likely, however, the Las Vegas Caesars event was chosen because of the proximity of many of the professionals (as most live on the West Coast or in Las Vegas itself) and the additional thought that the Circuit could pull in some big name players before the start of the normal Circuit Championship Event.
What is most likely to happen with this test of H.O.R.S.E. during the Caesars Circuit tournament is one of a few things. With a $5,000 buy-in, it could potentially draw an abundance of the big names to the felt and give the Circuit a boost in attention, action and an event champion the average poker fan recognizes. The other side exists as well; with a still sizeable buy in, an amateur can still afford to take a shot and could come in and take the event. This could potentially kill the interest of the public in such a tournament in future events. Finally, a third and perhaps deadly situation could arise where there is a less than enthusiastic reaction to the event, a small field that either could lead Harrah's to rethink their commitment to the H.O.R.S.E. event's addition to the summertime World Series or an outright cancellation of both H.O.R.S.E. tournaments due to lack of interest.
The questions should be answered by the wallets of the players, professional and otherwise, that come to the tables at Caesars in May. Could we be seeing the birth of a new tradition at both the World Series and the Circuit events, or could it be conceivable that there just isn't the interest in mixed games anymore? Those answers will come out with both events just a few months away.
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