In an effort to return to pre-COVID-19 pandemic norms, the World Series of Poker is resuming the World Series of Poker Circuit, its popular roadshow that brings tournament action to regional casinos around the country and internationally.
As a live poker experience, the WSOP Circuit (WSOP-C) was shut down for 18 months through much of 2020 and 2021 as a result of health concerns, which included temporary casino closings and proximity restrictions that prohibited typical live poker play. The newly announced 2021-22 season is the 17th for the WSOP-C, which started in 2004-05 with just five stops as the poker boom was picking up steam.
The current schedule calls for 13 stops in the U.S. and internationally, beginning Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 25, at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort in Cherokee, N.C., immediately following the conclusion of the current 2021 World Series of Poker tournament series being held in Las Vegas. Additional Circuit stops and dates are expected to be announced.
So far, following North Carolina, WSOP-C events are planned in New York, Florida, California, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Mississippi, Canada (Calgary) and Aruba (current schedule below).
Previously, each Circuit stop consisted of 12 events with a marquee “main event” and championship rings presented to winners (the winners at the WSOP in Las Vegas receive championship bracelets). The first Circuit event of the new season in North Carolina lists 13 events with buy-ins ranging from a few hundred dollars to $1,700 – the most expensive buy-in is for that stop’s main event.
As was the case in previous WSOP-C seasons, participation in the Circuit can lead back to Las Vegas for the 2022 WSOP.
“The prestigious $1 million freeroll will return featuring a new qualification format this season, refocused to make every event a pathway to win a highly coveted WSOP gold bracelet,” the WSOP announced in a news release. “Beginning with the Cherokee Circuit Event, any official gold ring winners, from either the live or online circuit events through July 2022, will qualify for the new invitation-only ‘Tournament of Champions’ event during the 2022 World Series of Poker tournament in Las Vegas. (Also), 2022 online or live bracelet winners will also be eligible to compete in the new signature event.”
From its inception, the WSOP Circuit largely was designed to give poker players who couldn’t make the trip to Las Vegas for the WSOP, or afford the buy-ins that typically cost thousands of dollars, an opportunity to get a taste of the WSOP experience more conveniently in terms of travel and at far lower price points. Plus, there was still the opportunity for players to earn their way to the big show in Las Vegas.
“It’s been too long, so it’s great to see the Circuit hitting the road once again,” Ty Stewart, senior vice president and executive director of the World Series of Poker, said in a news release. “The WSOP-C is one of our most important initiatives, allowing regional players to experience big-time poker and providing grinders a platform to earn a living. We’re pumped up about the new ‘Tournament of Champions’ format where all our winners will come together for one event. Just win and you’re in!”
Familiar Circuit stops are the Bicycle Casino in Los Angeles (the WSOP-C’s second stop beginning Dec. 4) and Harrah’s New Orleans (the final stop, beginning May 5, 2022). Some new stops are Isle Casino Pompano, Pompano Beach, Fla.; Turning Stone Resort & Casino, Verona, N.Y., and Deerfoot Inn and Casino, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Most WSOP-C stops will begin on Thursdays, with the four-day main events beginning on the second Friday of the tournament. Each stop is being encouraged to add Seniors and Ladies events, where the winners will qualify to participate in the “Tournament of Champions” in Las Vegas.
The WSOP-C is trying to assure that each stop features standardized tournament structures and payouts, so that players who travel from stop to stop will have consistent playing circumstances, barring any local regulatory or law differences. Each stop will release its event schedule after gaining approval of local regulators. The WSOP announced that each stop will have at least 12 official gold ring events starting at a $250 buy-in level and will include a $1,700 main event.
“(The) 2022 WSOP Online Circuit events on WSOP.COM will be scheduled monthly following the year-end Championship with a $250,000 freeroll scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 28,” the WSOP announced. Visit WSOP.com/2021/circuit for more information. The WSOP-C schedules are subject to change but this is what’s planned for now:
More stops are expected to be added as the season progresses.