The World Series of Poker Circuit (WSOPC)’s eighth season schedule has been announced, with “several new exciting wrinkles” put in place in the hope of producing a dramatic climax to the tour.
The 16-stop tour kicks off on Thursday, September 8, with a new leg in Bossier City’s Horseshoe in Louisiana and ends on Monday, May 21, 2012, in Harrah’s in New Orleans.
The complete 15-venue tour is maintained from last year, when 150 gold rings were handed out from a record-breaking 49,453 entries. The inaugural National Championship title was picked up by 50-year-old Arkansas software analyst and researcher Sam Barnhart. The Little Rock native, of course, received a WSOP gold bracelet as well as $300,000.
Ty Stewart, the WSOP executive director, reckons ogranisers “made great strides with the WSOP Circuit tour last year – but we also learned a lot”, meaning they have now “rid ourselves of the things that didn’t work and added several new exciting wrinkles that will pit the best American tournament grinders against top performing worldwide players in a culminating championship befitting the grandest stage the World Series of Poker can offer”.
An important alteration to the tour is a modified points ranking structure for all event participants, which will see players who compete in multiple events rewarded.
The WSOP Circuit Tour also has a new unofficial slogan, ’12 Rings in 12 Days’, as each stop has now been reorganised to start on a Thursday with all three-day main events beginning on the second Saturday to provide 12 official WSOP gold ring tournaments through 12 successive days while also supplying participants with non-stop poker action as the regions welcome the tour.
Every tour leg will finish with a $1,600 (approximately £982/€1,114) buy-in main event and, for the first time, the championship tournament will include a re-entry possibility for players with a morning and evening flight open to all. However, there will be no $10,000 (£6,135/€6,963) buy-in events this season.
The buy-in to events will be priced at $300 (£184/€209) to $1,600 (£982/€1,114) to give as many players as possible the chance to secure a WSOP gold bracelet.
All WSOP Circuit main event winners will be handed a National Championship spot, as will the Casino Champion, which is the player who accumulates the largest number of points through the 12-event gold ring programme at each stop.
With the Regional Championships having been removed from the schedule, the majority of the 100 freerolled seats to the National Championship – which still hasn’t been given an exact date – will be produced through cumulative points, so resulting in 32 players automatically qualifying, while 68 will make it via their rankings points.
That’s almost double last year’s points qualifiers receiving free entry to the National Championship, thus rewarding the players who take part in the largest number of events and those who play well throughout the tour stops.
Additionally, as the tournament structures and payouts of all WSOP Circuit stops were standardised last year, players have been provided with a consistency throughout the tour.
Talking of the points system, however, that has also been modified for this year’s tour with players who cash in WSOP Circuit ring events being handed points on a sliding scale.
Each ring event – barring main events – will supply 50 points for first place, while each subsequent place will receive 2.5 fewer points, so 24 players will be rewarded for cashing.
Of course, as main event winners automatically qualify for the National Championship, no points will be given out, although second place will receive 50 points – or the equivalent of what a $300 (£184/€209) to $1,000 (£614/€696) buy-in event winner gets – to make certain there is an dynamic race to become the Casino Champion.
The season-closing National Championship has also been given something of an overhaul to produce more excitement and increase the prize pool on offer to players. They modifications are:
- The National Championship will once more be televised throughout the USA, with organisers expecting a considerable increase in programming.
- Each qualifier from the WSOP Circuit will be given $10,000 (£6,135/€6,963) buy-in seats, as well as a $500 (£307/€348) travel allowance and three nights’ hotel accommodation.
- The leading 100 players from the new WSOP World Rankings will be given the opportunity to buy into the $10,000 (£6,135/€6,963) National Championship event to line up against the best from the Circuit. The World Rankings has been set up to recognise cumulative performances in open events at the World Series of Poker (WSOP) and the World Series of Poker Europe (WSOPE) over a two-year timetable and will be released this November.
- All cash coming via additional buy-in entries will be added to an event’s prize pool and payout, with organisers expecting the norm to be about 10% of the field.
With all these additional methods of entry, the National Championship could include as many as 200 players. It is expected that 100 players will make it through the WSOP Circuit, while the remaining 100 will most likely be made up of participants who produced successful displays in the open events of the 2010 or 2011 WSOP and WSOP Europe.
It is also anticipated that most of the 100 World Ranking qualifiers will have picked up gold bracelets, thus guaranteeing a thrilling mixture of big-name pros and tournament grinders revealed through the season-long voyage that is the WSOP Circuit Tour.
The World Series of Poker Circuit 2011-12 schedule:
September 8-September 19, 2011: Horseshoe Bossier City, Louisiana
September 29-October 10, 2011: Horseshoe Southern Indiana
October 13-October 24, 2011: Horseshoe Hammond, Chicago, Indiana
October 27-November 7, 2011: IP Casino Resort & Spa, Biloxi, Mississippi
November 10-November 21, 2011: Harveys Lake Tahoe, Stateline, Nevada
December 1-December 12, 2011: Harrah’s Atlantic City, New Jersey
January 12-January 23, 2012: Choctaw Casino Resort, Durant, Oklahoma
January 19-January 30, 2012: Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada
February 3-February 13, 2012: Harrah’s Tunica, Tunica Resorts, Mississippi
February 16-February 27, 2012: Palm Beach Kennel Club, West Palm Beach, Florida
March 1-March 12, 2012: Caesars Atlantic City, New Jersey
March 15-March 26, 2012: Harrah’s Rincon (San Diego) Casino & Resort, Valley Center, California
March 29-April 9, 2012: Horseshoe Council Bluffs, Iowa
April 12-April 23, 2012: Harrah’s St Louis, Maryland Heights, Missouri
April 26-May 7, 2012: Harrah’s Chester, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
May 10-May 21, 2012: Harrah’s New Orleans, Louisiana