After spending two successful years in Cannes, France, the World Series of Poker Europe will be moving across the country to Paris in 2013. The WSOP announced Monday that the 2013 WSOP Europe will be held Oct. 11 through 24 at France’s oldest and most historic casino — the lakefront Casino Barrière Enghien-les-Bains, located less than 10 miles from the French capital.
The newly-renovated Casino Barrière Enghien-les-Bains facility will hold all of the tournament action in one room, and a 500-seat theatre will host final tables and television production. The WSOP said in a press release that the location promises to be the "most comfortable and conducive setup for poker players in the WSOPE’s seven-year history."
“Part of our vision for WSOP Europe is to mix poker and pleasure — and introduce players to some of the most exciting destinations in Europe,” said WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart. “Barrière’s facilities in Enghien are amazing and there are likely 12 million Parisians all trying to make sure “Phillipe” Hellmuth doesn’t win another bracelet on French soil. With our ideal dates scheduled to avoid conflicts for traveling players, expanded TV coverage and qualifiers planned, we expect to be back in record-setting mode in 2013.”
The 2013 WSOP Europe schedule has not been announced, but the WSOP again expects to offer seven WSOP gold bracelet events, plus a High Roller event. There will also be an assortment of satellites and cash games available on site.
The WSOP Europe spent four years in London, England before moving to Cannes in 2011. This year's series saw Hellmuth make history by winning the Main Event to clinch his record-setting 13th bracelet. Other bracelet winners in Cannes this fall were Antonio Esfandiari, Jonathan Aguiar, Roger Hairabedian, Imed Ben Mahmoud, Francisco Da Costa Santos and Giovanni Rosadoni.
Upon hearing the news, PokerNews reached out to Stewart for some questions and comments. Here's what he had to say.
When did the idea to move the WSOP Europe out of Cannes come to fruition?
Right on the heels of this year's event — October. We had optimal dates in Cannes for 2011, but came to learn it was really due to the G-20 summit displacing other annual conventions. Cannes is such an attractive destination for meetings and events that fill up hotel rooms, the city's calendar is fairly crowded. But ultimately, we're not doing the event justice if we're not mindful of the poker calendar and players key religious observances first. We made it tough on players to attend in 2012, and we're not making that mistake again.
What was the overall determining factor to make the move?
As organizers, we want the same thing as players: to draw largest field sizes and prize money possible. In this case, we looked at optimal dates, a more populous feeder market, easier travel with more options and, of course, all the excitement available in one of the worlds' most vibrant cities just a few minutes away.
Although Casino Barrière Enghien-les-Bains is located on Lac d'Enghien, how do you feel players will favor the move away from the beautiful beaches of the French Riviera? What's the allure of the new destination?
It's the best of both worlds. The entire Barrière complex will be dedicated to poker; every room, every salon, the entire meeting facility. It's the first time we'll be able to have all WSOP-E tournament tables on one floor, and to have an upscale setting for the final tables — to do things in Europe like we do in Vegas. And if you go bust, Paris is just a short train ride away. I made the comment before that I didn't see too many players on the beach. I think poker players prefer action by nature, and whatever you're into, you can find it in Paris.
In the press release, you stated: “Part of our vision for WSOP Europe is to mix poker and pleasure – and introduce players to some of the most exciting destinations in Europe.” Does this mean the WSOP is already eying other destinations for the coming years for WSOP Europe?
I've toured a few. We are looking at options for future years, and hope to expand our "Wild Card Weekend" qualifier series through an official network, but we stayed in France because we're thrilled with the partnership with Barrière. They are gracious hosts who believe in the vision of this event. I expect they will qualify over 150 French for the Main Event alone this year due to move to Paris and its higher player base.
How many more tables can the new venue hold?
We'll have in the 75-table range, enough to make sure we can accommodate demand for a comprehensive series of bracelet events and side action. The big change is organization; One tournament floor for all WSOP-E events and all final tables played in a grand theatre.
Are there any talks to increase the amount of bracelet events at WSOP Europe? Or to add any new events not previously seen?
We are still discussing the final bracelet schedule. Right now, the number of events feels right to have good diversity in the series. Our focus right now is on building up the number of entrants and prize money per event. This move, and these dates, are the start of realizing that goal.
Lead photo courtesy of the WSOP.