WSOP Circuit Rings

2012-13 WSOP Circuit Comes to Close, 2013-14 WSOP-C Schedule Announced

A total of 264 gold rings will be won during the 2013-14 WSOP Circuit

A total of 264 gold rings will be won during the 2013-14 WSOP Circuit

With the 2013 World Series of Poker in Las Vegas just days away from starting, the year-round WSOP Circuit was in the headlines this week with the conclusion of its 2012-13 season and the announcement of the 2013-14 schedule.

Culminating a 20-stop tour that began at the IP Casino Resort & Spa in Biloxi, Mississippi in August and wound all over the U.S. plus a trip north of the border to Vancouver, the 2012-13 WSOP-C National Championship concluded last night at Harrah’s New Orleans with 23-year-old Jonathan Hilton topping a field of 127 to win the title and $355,599 first prize.

Like Sam Barnhart (2011) and Ryan Eriquezzo (2012), Hilton earns a WSOP gold bracelet for winning the WSOP-C National Championship, in this case claiming the first such bracelet awarded in the U.S. outside of Las Vegas where the previous two WSOP-C National Championships took place.

Like both Barnhart and Eriquezzo, Hilton qualified to play in the event after having accumulated a sufficient number of WSOP-C Player of the Year points over the course of the 2012-13 season. Entry into the tournament to which the WSOP donates $1 million worth of the prize pool is limited to 100 players who qualify for free entry thanks to their performances on the WSOP-C during the year, plus the top 100 players in the overall WSOP POY standings over the past two years who are eligible to buy in for $10,000.

All 100 of the players who did qualify for free entry into the WSOP Circuit this year ended up participating. That group included all 20 of the 2012-13 WSOP-C Main Event winners, 18 “Casino Champions” (i.e., players earning the most points at each stop), and 62 at-large qualifiers like Hilton. In the case of a player earning dual entries (e.g., winning a WSOP-C Main Event while also becoming a given Casino Champion), an extra at-large bid becomes available.

The other 27 entries in this week’s WSOP-C National Championship were “POY qualifiers” who bought into the event, thereby increasing the total prize pool to $1,270,000. The tourney’s runner-up Max Steinberg was one such player, and he made back $219,799 for his second-place finish.

In 2011, only those earning free entry into the WSOP Circuit National Championship could play, with 97 of the 100 who qualified doing so. In 2012, the format was altered to invite the POY qualifiers to participate by buying in, and the total field of 157 was comprised of all 100 of the players who qualified on the WSOP-C plus 57 who each paid $10,000 to play.

Some speculated the lower number of players buying in to play in the WSOP-C National Championship at Harrah’s New Orleans this week was caused both by the tournament’s location not being in Las Vegas as well as the busy tournament schedule currently with the EPT and WPT tours just concluding and the WSOP about to begin.

Meanwhile, this week also saw the announcement of the WSOP Circuit’s 2013-14 schedule which will expand the WSOP-C even further to 22 stops while largely retaining what has proven a popular format with 12 tournaments per stop with buy-ins ranging from $365 to $1,675. The addition of new stops was expected, as WSOP Media Director Nolan Dalla had indicated an expansion was a possibility when I spoke with him about the WSOP-C last month.

All 20 of the stops featured in 2012-13 are back in 2013-14, although the regular Caesars Atlantic City 12-tourney stop has been dropped from the schedule and instead Caesars AC has been made the location for the next WSOP-C National Championship in May 2014 (dates to be determined).

Meanwhile, three new stops have been added — two in Ohio (Horseshoe Cincinnati and Horseshoe Cleveland), plus one more in Canada (Casino Montreal). Horseshoe Cleveland had been on the original WSOP-C schedule for 2012-13, but the series was canceled and replaced by a stop at the Lodge Casino in Black Hawk, Colorado, a venue that will again host a WSOP-C in 2013-14.

Here is the 2013-14 WSOP-C schedule:

  • Aug. 8-19, 2013 — Foxwoods (CT)
  • Sept. 5-16, 2013 — IP Casino Resort & Spa (Biloxi, MS)
  • Sept. 19-30, 2013 — Horseshoe Cincinnati
  • Oct. 3-14, 2013 — Horseshoe Southern Indiana
  • Oct. 17-28, 2013 — Horseshoe Hammond (Chicago)
  • Oct. 24-Nov. 4, 2013 — Harveys Lake Tahoe (Stateline, NV)
  • Oct. 28-Nov. 8, 2013 — River Rock (Vancouver, Canada)
  • Nov. 7-18, 2013 — Horseshoe Bossier City (Lousiana)
  • Nov. 13-24, 2013 — Casino Montreal (Montreal, Canada)
  • Nov. 29-Dec. 9, 2013 — Harrah’s Atlantic City
  • Dec. 5-16, 2013 — Harrah’s Rincon (San Diego area)
  • Jan. 9-20, 2014 — Choctaw Durant (Dallas/Oklahoma)
  • Jan. 23-Feb. 3 2014– Harrah’s Tunica (MS)
  • Feb. 6-17, 2014 — Palm Beach Kennel Club (Florida)
  • Feb. 20-Mar. 3, 2014 — Caesars Palace (Las Vegas)
  • Mar. 6-17, 2014 — The Bicycle Casino (Los Angeles)
  • Mar. 20-31, 2014 — Horseshoe Cleveland
  • Apr. 3-14, 2014 — Harrah’s Cherokee (NC)
  • Apr. 10-21, 2014 — Horseshoe Council Bluffs (Iowa/Omaha)
  • Apr. 17-28, 2014 — Harrah’s Philadelphia
  • Apr. 24-May 5, 2014 — The Lodge Casino, Black Hawk (Colo.)
  • May 8-19, 2014 — Harrah’s New Orleans
  • May 2014 — Caesars Atlantic City, National Championship

The change in venue for the WSOP-C National Championship next year to Atlantic City drew the most immediate reaction from observers. While a similar system will be in place in 2013-14 for players on the Circuit to qualify to play in the tournament — again featuring $1 million added to the prize pool by the WSOP — plans are being formulated to award six seats into the tournament via WSOP.com online promotions.

According to the WSOP, “pending licensing & regulatory approval, WSOP.com intends to organize a “last shot” online tournament offering the final seats in the field.”

As noted in last week’s WSOP Conference Call, the WSOP has hopes of launching its own real money online poker site in the near future in Nevada (possibly during the WSOP), and clearly has an eye on offering games to players in New Jersey as well once licenses are approved and regulations are in place for online gambling in the Garden state.

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