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Have the WSOP Circuit Changes Made The Tour Better?

WSOP Circuit

After the 2009-2010 season of the World Series of Poker Circuit, the WSOP revamped the entire look of the tour for the following season. More changes were made after the 2010-2011 season moving into the 2011-2012 campaign and PokerNews is here to examine those changes and see how the tour fared overall.

The two most apparent changes from the 2009-2010 season to the next were the slashing of the $5,000 buy-ins to $1,600 for all of the Main Events and an addition of a points system that culminated in a $1,000,000 National Championship Freeroll. Four $10,000 Regional Championships were kept on the schedule to feed the need for the bigger-buy-in enthusiast, but those were cut from the schedule following the completion of the season.

After the 2010-2011 season, the WSOP made another drastic change and all Main Events were garnered a re-entry format. The question now is: Did the change to a re-entry format positively or negatively affect the WSOP Circuit? Let's find out.

First, let's go back to the 2009-2010 season and take a brief look at those numbers. The average field size from the 11 Main Events was 125.6 players. The average first-place prize was $170,876, which amounted to an average of 33.13 buy-ins won as each Main Event held an average buy-in of $5,158. The largest field size of that season's tour was at the Horseshoe Hammond event where 248 players were attracted. Now, keeping in mind those numbers, let's advance to the 2010-2011 season.

2010-2011 WSOP Circuit Main Events
2010-2011 WSOP Circuit Main Events

Looking at the chart above, you'll see that only three stops of the 16 had Main Events with field sizes smaller than the largest one from the previous season. One of these, the stop in South Africa, held a buy-in of $5,000 and was segregated from the other 15 stops. Overall, the Main Events saw an increase in field size of 234.6 percent, due in large part to the slashing of the buy-in from $5,000 to $1,600. Also interesting to point out is that with the change in the buy-in, the average first-place prize was only cut down by $28,684. Combining the massive increase in field size without sacrificing the prize money has proved that the WSOP made the correct move by cutting the buy-ins down.

With such a positive outcome from the change on the WSOP Circuit, one would think that it would be left alone for the time being. Instead, the WSOP opted to make more changes. This time, the big change was to allow for all of the Main Events to have a re-entry format over two starting flights. How did the Circuit fare? Let's take a look.

2011-2012 WSOP Circuit Main Events
2011-2012 WSOP Circuit Main Events

As you can see, the Main Event field sizes increased once again, from an average of 420.25 entrants to 558.78. The increase isn't as drastic as the one between the previous two seasons, but it's still nearly a 33 percent increase and a great result. One thing the re-entry format made sure to do was increase the prize pools and allow for a larger first-place prize to be won. With the average top prize now over $177,000, it moved to more than what the average winner won two seasons ago in the 2009-2010 campaign when the buy-in was more than three times as large.

If you'd like to take a deeper look into how the WSOP Circuit numbers have changed over the years, check out PokerNews' Analyzing the WSOP Circuit Numbers Over the Years article.

With the recent release of the 2012-2013 WSOP Circuit schedule, some very bright offerings are on the horizon. With a record 20 stops on the tour for the upcoming season, one may think that the average Main Event field size may dip a little bit as players have more options to be selective with their travel. That may not be the case, though, as the four additional stops all come from new venues; River Rock Casino in Vancouver, British Columbia, the brand new Horseshoe Cleveland, Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut and Harrah’s Cherokee in Cherokee, North Carolina.

Each of these venues have either done very well in the past hosting other events or are hotbeds for poker, which leads us to believe that numbers may actually increase once again. Of course, only time will tell and we'll be back here to look at the numbers when the 2012-2013 Circuit is over. In the meantime, PokerNews strongly recommends getting out to a few of these WSOP Circuit stops in order to get a taste of some of the best value the poker world has to offer. Maybe you'll run into our Live Reporting Team along the way.

For more information on the 2012-13 WSOP Circuit season, visit

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