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History of the WSOP Circuit – Global Casino Championship

WSOPC Global Casino Championship

There's still one more online bracelet to be awarded this month!

Earlier this year, the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Circuit announced that its season-ended Global Casino Championship, originally scheduled to take place at North Carolina’s Harrah’s Cherokee in August, would move online to on September 13 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This Sunday, PokerNews will not only be live reporting the event but also live streaming it on our Twitch channel.

The WSOP Circuit was launched in 2005 as both a build-up to the annual WSOP and to take the magic of the summer series across the country. Ten years later, the WSOPC would expand worldwide with the WSOP International Circuit. In 2011, a season-ending championship was introduced.

In preparation for this year’s Global Casino Championship, we took a look back at the event’s history.

Sam Barnhart Wins Inaugural National Championship

Sam Barnhart
Sam Barnhart won the first National Championship.

In 2011, the WSOPC hosted its first National Championship, which was held at Caesars Palace just prior to that year’s WSOP. The tournament was only open to 100 WSOPC qualifiers and offered up a $1,000,000 prize pool.

The inaugural winner was Arkansas’ Sam Barnhart, who qualified after winning the WSOPC Horseshoe Tunica for $148,612 three months earlier. Barnhart’s heater continued later in the summer when he finished 17th in the WSOP Main Event for a career-high $378,796.

Barnhart relocated to Las Vegas after his remarkable run where he still resides today.

“Mostly cash games and online. Not playing as much,” Barnhart recently told PokerNews when asked what he’s been up to. “I’m also doing real estate. I will eventually get in commercial ‘selling businesses.’”

1Sam BarnhartUSA$300,000
2James AndersonUSA$200,000
3Josh EvansUSA$135,000
4La SengphetUSA$100,000
5Jonathan PocheUSA$75,000
6Charles “Woody” MooreUSA$55,000
7Drazen IlichUSA$42,500
8Adam HuiCanada$35,000
9Matt LawrenceUSA$30,000
10Huy NguyenUSA$27,500

Ryan Eriquezzo Wins for First Time

2012 WSOP National Championship Bracelet Winner Ryan Eriquezzo
2012 WSOP National Championship Bracelet Winner Ryan Eriquezzo

The following year, the National Championship moved over to the Rio and took place during the WSOP. That year, officials also expanded the field by offering the top 100 players in the WSOP World Rankings, a points race determined on results in open events from the two years previous, the chance to enter if they wanted to pony up the $10,000 buy-in.

That year the tournament drew 157 runners and saw Ryan Eriquezzo, who had qualified by winning the 2012 WSOP Circuit Caesars Atlantic City Main Event, come out on top to win his first bracelet and a $416,051 top prize.

1Ryan EriquezzoUSA$416,051
2Nik StoneUSA$257,119
3Huy NguyenUSA$186,265
4Matt KeikoanUSA$137,485
5Yung HwangUSA$103,322
6David “ODB” BakerUSA$79,002
7Sam SteinUSA$61,434
8Amanada MusumeciUSA$48,576
9Justin GardenhireUSA$39,030

Down to the Big Easy

Jonathan Hilton - Winner of the 2013 Southern Comfort 100 Proof World Series of
Jonathan "Mashed Potatoes, No Sides" Hilton

For the 2012-13 Season, the WSOPC was sponsored by Southern Comfort 100 and the National Championship was moved back to its May timeslot. In addition, it was moved to Harrah’s New Orleans to coincide with the final stop of the WSOPC season.

The field dropped to 127 runners and saw Jonathan Hilton, who was an at-large qualifier, beat Max Steinberg in heads-up play to win the bracelet and accompanying $355,599 first-place prize.

1Jonathan HiltonUSA$355,599
2Max SteinbergUSA$219,799
3Robert “Uncle Krunk” PanitchUSA$156,743
4Brock ParkerUSA$114,008
5John BowmanUSA$84,544
6Joe TehanUSA$63,894
7Nicolas Vaca-RondonUSA$49,187
8Jeremy AusmusUSA$38,570
9Austin ApicellaUSA$30,785

Battle on the Boardwalk

Dominik Nitsche
Dominik Nitsche captures his second bracelet.

In 2014, the National Championship moved once again to Bally’s Casino Atlantic City and the final table was held outdoors on the famed Boardwalk. For the first time ever, a player who paid $10,000 to enter the tournament came out on top as German pro Dominik Nitsche beat a 126-player field to win a $352,800 first-place prize and what was his second gold bracelet.

1Dominik NitscheGermany$352,800
2Athanasios PolychronopoulosUSA$218,056
3Matthew AshtonUK$157,399
4Christopher BibbUSA$115,655
5Tracy DossUSA$86,461
6Andrew RobinsonUSA$65,734
7Ylon SchwartzUSA$50,816
8Jeffrey GunnipUSA$39,917
9Sean LippelUSA$31,865

The First Female Champion

Loni Harwood
Loni Harwood is the first and so far only winner of the event.

Speaking of winning a second bracelet, Loni Harwood did the same thing in 2015 when the tournament drew 122 players. The fifth annual National Championship moved to Harrah’s Cherokee in North Carolina for the first time, and Harwood, who bought her way in for $10,000, bested one of the WSOP Circuit’s most accomplished players, Alex Masek, in heads-up play to win the title for $341,599.

Fun Fact: Daniel Negreanu made the final table, ultimately finishing in sixth place for $63,647.

1Loni HarwoodUSA$341,599
2Alex MasekUSA$211,133
3Darryll FishUSA$152,402
4Brad St. VincentUSA$111,984
5Vincent MoscatiUSA$83,716
6Daniel NegreanuCanada$63,647
7Paul MattiodaUSA$49,203
8Seth BergerUSA$38,650
9Jonathan AblaUSA$30,854

Ushering in the Global Casino Championship

Said El-Yousfi
Said El-Yousfi won the first Global Casino Championship.

In 2016, there was a rebranding of sorts as the National Championship, which had previously considered only US-based stops, became the Global Casino Championship after the introduction of the international circuit. That meant from players could earn qualifying points worldwide.

The Global Casino Championship was once again held at Harrah’s Cherokee and saw France’s Said El-Yousfi top a 126-player field to win the tournament for $343,256 and the gold bracelet. El-Yousfi had qualified after being crowned the Casino Champ at Casino de Marrakech in his native Morocco. He, therefore, became the first “Casino Championship” qualifier to win the title.

1Said El-YousfiFrance$343,256
2Yasin AhmadyUSA$212,150
3Josh TurnerUSA$150,851
4Joe KuetherUSA$109,192
5Sean SmallUSA$80,483
6Cody PackUSA$60,427
7Alex RochaUSA$46,231
8Brian GreenUSA$36,054
9Blake WhittingtonUSA$28,673

Sean Yu’s Heater

Sean Yu
Sean Yu's victory was the start of a nice heater.

In 2017, well-known West Coast poker pro Sean Yu navigated a 124-player field to win the Global Casino Championship at Harrah’s Cherokee for $296,341. He has qualified nearly a year before after defeating Eli Elezra heads up in the WSOP Circuit Planet Hollywood Main Event.

The heater continued for Yu as the next month he won a $1,100 Main Event at Commerce for $209,030 and then a week later won a WSOPC gold ring at Thunder Valley Casino.

1Sean YuSouth Korea$296,941
2Alexander LakhovRussia$183,527
3Josh ReichardUSA$130,498
4Jesse CohenUSA$94,459
5Jason MercierUSA$69,624
6Dylan LindeUSA$52,724
7Will BerryUSA$39,993
8Nikhil GeraUSA$31,189
9Charlie NguyenUSA$24,804

Sheaves Wins a Medium Bracelet

Warren Sheaves
Warren Sheaves wins 2018 Global Casino Championship.

In 2018, the Global Casino Championship attracted 127 players to Harrah’s Cherokee and saw Warren Sheaves take it down for $282,113 and his first bracelet. Sheaves had qualified after finishing in 10th place on that year’s points leaderboard.

After his victory, Sheaves told assembled media: “I feel pretty good, but they only invited 120 people or so to this tournament. So, I just kind of feel like this is a medium bracelet, you know? It doesn’t really fit my ego.”

At the time, WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart said of the event: “Ten years ago, we only had 12 Circuit stops and they were all in the U.S. We’re proud to have grown it to 39 stops in 11 different countries and the Global Casino Championship at Harrah’s Cherokee exists to put the best of the best in the same room to see who comes out on top. We’ll continue to work hard to make the World Series of Poker the biggest and best poker tournaments to play all around the world.”

1Warren SheavesUSA$282,113
2Jeremy MeachamUSA$174,360
3Keven StammenUSA$122,360
4Armin StockerSwitzerland$88,463
5Loni HarwoodUSA$65,067
6Arkadiy TsinisUSA$48,926
7Blake WhittingtonUSA$37,627
8Kurt JewellUSA$29,612
9Stephen BiermanUSA$23,861

A Two-Time Winner

Ryan Eriquezzo
Ryan Eriquezzo becomes a two-time winner.

In 2019, the Global Casino Championship had 129 players take to the felt, and it was a familiar face coming out on top as the 2012 champ Ryan Eriquezzo beat Eric Salazar heads up to win the title for a second time, plus a $279,431 top prize.

"It's very similar, but at the same it's different,” said Eriquezzo, who qualified after winning the 2019 WSOPC Harrah’s Atlantic City Main Event for $124,397. “My rail in Vegas was huge; everyone was rooting for me. This was a bit different; it felt like I was coming into hostile territory."

As it stands, Eriquezzo is the reigning Global Casino Champion.

1Ryan EriquezzoUSA$279,431
2Eric SalazarUSA$172,431
3Maurice HawkinsUSA$119,555
4Josh TurnerUSA$84,961
5Paulius VaitiekunasLithuania$62,023
6Adam CedricFrance$46,546
7Jordan PivaBrazil$35,939
8Jarod MinghiniUSA$28,572
9Josh ReichardUSA$23,411

WSOP National/Global Casino Championship Winners

2010–11WSOP Circuit National Championship100Sam Barnhart$300,000James Anderson
2011–12WSOP Circuit National Championship157Ryan Eriquezzo$416,051Nik Stone
2012–13WSOP Circuit National Championship127Jonathan Hilton$355,599Max Steinberg
2013–14WSOP Circuit National Championship126Dominik Nitsche$352,800Athanasios Polychronopoulos
2014–15WSOP Circuit National Championship122Loni Harwood$341,599Alexandru Masek
2015–16WSOP Global Casino Championship126Said El-Yousfi$343,256Yasin Ahmady
2016–17WSOP Global Casino Championship124Sean Yu$296,941Alexander Lakhov
2017–18WSOP Global Casino Championship127Warren Sheaves$282,113Jeremy Meacham
2018–19WSOP Global Casino Championship129Ryan Eriquezzo$279,431Eric Salazar
  • Take a historical look at the @WSOP Circuit National & Global Casino Championships.

Name Surname
Executive Editor U.S.

Executive Editor US, PokerNews Podcast co-host & 2013 WSOP Bracelet Winner.

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