The World Series of Poker Circuit recently announced its revamped lineup of events that are slated to kick off August 19, 2010, in Council Bluffs, Iowa. With the new schedule come 12 stops leading up until the 2011 World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. Although the stops are all familiar places that have been on the Circuit in years past, this time around the WSOP looks like it really aims to put the WSOP-C tour back on the map as one of the prominent tours in not only North America but also the world.
So what has changed you ask? In previous years, the Main Event at each stop was a $5,000 buy-in event. A few years ago during the poker boom, the WSOP Circuit events packed casinos with huge fields and provided entertainment to the world at televised final tables. The TV contracts went away over the years and the field sizes diminished. Big-name players and top pros started passing up these events by looking elsewhere to tackle tournament poker, but that might start changing with this new structure.
At each of the 12 stops, there will be a $1,500 buy-in Main Event. That’s less than one-third of the old buy-ins and should help to bring out more amateur players looking to take a shot at a WSOP-branded event. This will make the fields more full of dead money, which tournament pros will love to see. There will also be four of the stops that have a special $10,000 buy-in Regional Championship on top of the normal Main Event that’s located at each stop. These events are set up to bring out the best of the best and rival the elite fields that the World Poker Tour and North American Poker Tour see regularly. All of these Regional Championships will be televised, making them even more enticing for the big-name players to come out and play. The more exposure a player can get, especially if they make a final table or two, the better.
Why is this better for the Circuit? Well, first, any televised coverage of poker is great for a series. It brings out the better players and those looking to get the most exposure for their buck. The WPT has a televised show and most of the NAPTs are aired as well. Heck, even the Heartland Poker Tour gets airtime. If the WSOP Circuit wants to be thought of as one of the best tours around, it needs this type of exposure. Combining the television aspect of things with the big $10,000 buy-in, a top field of players should be on hand for all of these stops.
As if that wasn’t enough to draw in larger crowds of players and bring the WSOP Circuit back to life, the WSOP went ahead and added a $1 million National Championship event that takes place just before next year’s World Series. This National Championship will consist of 100 players who have qualified in one of four ways: win the $1,500 Main Event at any stop, be the “Casino Champion” at any stop by accumulating the most points, make the final table of any Regional Championship event, or be in the top 36 point getters for the 2010-2011 WSOP Circuit. Complete any of those tasks and you’ll be in Vegas at the end of May playing for your share of a cool million.
What does this type of point system do for the Circuit? Well, it encourages players to travel the entire tour with a big incentive to hit every stop and perform well. Although this type of travel may not be something the biggest-name players care for, the lesser-known pros who are used to grinding out series after series now have a reason to stick with the Circuit. There are often players who come out to these Circuit stops and play all or most of the preliminary events but can’t afford to shell out a $5,000 buy-in for the Main Event. Now they can play all the prelims with rewards coming to the top performers. They’ll also be able to take a shot at a smaller buy-in Main Event in hopes of hitting that big score. The point system doesn’t just encourage you to get out to one or two Circuit events a year, it encourages players to hit every stop on the tour to snatch up as many points as possible. It also encourages players not to just come out for the Main Event at each stop, but to try to hit the prelims as well to go after points. From a media perspective, this is a way for a story to be written on who’s doing well with points, what players are looking to move up and who is dropping off.
They may not be gold bracelets, but the WSOP Circuit rings could be the next best bling. There are plenty of $10,000 events out there already that may be out of reach for the amateur player who doesn’t have a huge bankroll. This newly structured WSOP Circuit tour is right up that player's alley and brings the prestigious WSOP brand along with it. Look for the WSOP Circuit to really storm back to the top and challenge the WPT and NAPT as the most prestigious tour in North America.
For more information on the new WSOP Circuit, head over to the WSOP website and check out what they have to offer. All the ins and outs of the Circuit are outlined on the site and remember, follow PokerNews on Twitter for up-to-the-minute news.