After Chris Moneymaker topped a field of 839 entrants to win the 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event, he ignited the poker boom. The field size for 2004 increased by 1,737 players ― over 200 percent! Then in 2005 the field size jumped again by 3,043 players. That’s an increase of over 118 percent from the year before. Jamie Gold was the lucky one to take home the title in 2006. He did so after battling through the largest field in the history of the WSOP Main Event. Gold was the last man standing from the 8,773-player field, an increase larger that last year’s jump and a boost of over 56 percent. It wasn’t until 2007 that the Main Event saw a decline in numbers, dropping to 6,358 entrants.
When the World Series of Poker Circuit kicked off in January of 2005, during the heart of the poker boom, the numbers were amazing. The first event took place in Atlantic City and drew 249 players. Clearly the poker buzz was hitting all areas of the U.S. and people were looking to take their shots at becoming rich and famous. Minus a jolt in the numbers from the second season to the third, the numbers steadily decreased each year with the tour seeing an all-time low in event participation and prize-pool sizes last year.
Let's first take a look at how big the events were during the Circuit’s first year leading up to the 2005 WSOP.
|Date (2005)||Venue||Field Size||First-Place Prize|
|January 18||Harrah’s Atlantic City||249||$780,615|
|March 2||Harrah’s Rincon||209||$655,220|
|March 23||Rio Las Vegas||222||$695,970|
|May 8||Harrah’s Lake Tahoe||173||$542,360|
|May 28||Harrah’s New Orleans||259||$787,340|
As you can see by looking at the numbers of the first year, the prize pools were very juicy ― much more than what they are now. The average amount that a winner on the first season of the Circuit took home was nearly $700,000. That’s the largest average first-place prize throughout all the years the Circuit has been running. This is due to a combination of things. The popularity of poker at the time played a large role in these events at the time, which saw an average field size of more than 222 players ― the second highest of any year of the tour. The buy-in for this first season of Circuit events was $10,000, and that also helps to juice up the prize pool, not to mention that ESPN broadcast these events, which really put them in the spotlight.
In the second season, the Circuit saw its numbers drop off a good amount. The average first-place prize dropped nearly $225,000 and the average field size was cut down by 36 percent. These decreases were seen with the events carrying the same $10,000 buy-ins.
Moving into its third year on tour, the Circuit saw another drop in average first-place prize. That average was nearly $470,000 in the 2005-2006 season, dropping to just under $360,000 the next year. On a positive note, the average field size increased from 142 the year before to 234 this year. The number of participants per event increased because all of the buy-ins were essentially chopped in half as the Circuit tried to jolt some life back into its field sizes. Instead of having $10,000 championship events, the buy-in amounts were cut to $5,000, with a couple costing $4,900.
More decreases have occurred in the past three season, as well. The average first-place prize has dropped every year and so has the average number of entrants. This past 2009-2010 season has been the worst with the average winner getting just over $170,000 after beating an average field size of 125 players.
Taking a deeper look at those numbers, let’s see how the first-place prize money compares to the buy-in for each season. This should better represent how the Circuit event is doing over the years.
|Season||Avg. Field||Avg. Buy-in||Avg. Prize||Avg. Buy-ins Won|
As you can see by these numbers, the Circuit saw a big jump when it cut the buy-ins in half for each event in the 2006-2007 season. Unfortunately, from there the numbers declined again. This would lead one to believe that the Circuit should see a nice spike in numbers this year because it lowered its buy-in amounts to $1,500. When the Circuit dropped its buy-ins by 49.8 percent from the 2005-2006 season to the 2006-2007 season, the increase in average buy-ins won jumped by 52.8 percent.
With the buy-ins now being cut by an even greater 70.9 percent, the average buy-ins won by each winner should be even greater. Keeping the same ratio as the increase that happened when the last jump was seen, the average buy-ins won should increase by 75.2 percent. That works out to be an estimated average of about 58 buy-ins won for this upcoming season on the WSOP Circuit. That would put the average first-place prize at around $87,000. Combining the estimated increase in average buy-ins won for first place along with the smaller buy-in level, the upcoming Circuit tour should be one of the best bangs for your poker buck.
This is of course, assuming that the Circuit will in fact see an increase of numbers reflecting those of the jump from its second season to third season. It might be difficult to achieve these numbers as the WSOP Circuit has a reputation for being one of the weakest tours around. For the 2009-2010 season, the Circuit saw an all-time low in numbers. The average field size was only 125 players, with five of the 11 events not reaching triple digit entrants, four of those below 75 entrants and one didn’t even break the half-century mark. The largest of the 11 events was the first event at Harrah's Horseshoe Casino Hammond venue. That event attracted 248 players, only a handful more than the average participant level was for the 2006-2007 Circuit.
It should also be pointed out that television coverage will be provided for some of the events during the next season. This should help the numbers, as well, making for promising anticipation of the upcoming Circuit season.
The Circuit has been revamped this time around with hopes of bringing it back to life, and you can read about all of the changes that have been made in our look at the newly resurrected WSOP Circuit. The only question now is: How many lives does the WSOP Circuit have?
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.