WSOP Circuit Adds First Events Outside U.S.
The World Series of Poker (WSOP) announced on Thursday that it will be expanding its WSOP Circuit events outside of the United States for the first time. Agreements have been made with casinos in three different countries (also on three different continents, which, if I may be so casual, is pretty cool): Morocco, Mexico, and Italy.
The first of the international WSOP Circuit events will take place in Marrakesh, Morocco from March 7th to March 15th of this year at Casino de Marrakesh Es Saadi. The casino was likely an easy choice, as it has hosted World Poker Tour events in the past, so management has experience running major tournaments. There will be eight ring events at Marrakesh and, looking at the schedule, around a dozen more side tournaments in addition to satellites for the Circuit Main Event. The Main Event champion and Casino Champion will win seats into the 2016 WSOP International Casino Championship, which is a $1 million prize pool freeroll.
As part of the deal, Marrakesh will also have “territory exclusivity” when it comes to WSOP satellites.
In a press release, WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart said of the WSOP Circuit additions, “It’s time to emphasize the ‘World’ in World Series of Poker and more aggressively partner with leading casino operators at the regional level. We know players crave a WSOP-like experience in their home market and believe our organizational expertise and unique tournament formats will bring a winning formula.”
WSOP Director Gregory Chochon added, “One thing that was clear to me from my time spent in the poker industry is that the passion for poker is ever-present, but players crave value, excitement and superior organization. These new agreements will allow us to offer meaningful year-round benefits to our casino partners while giving poker players a more direct path to reach the ultimate WSOP dream.”
In September, the WSOP Circuit will make its first appearance in Italy, at the Casino Campione D’Italia, located in northern Italy right at the Switzerland border. Similar to Marrakesh, the casino will also receive exclusive territory rights for WSOP satellites in Italy. The schedule for the Circuit stop has not been established yet.
Next year (with dates yet to be determined), the WSOP Circuit will travel to Monterrey, Mexico and take up residence at the Casino Jubilee de Monterrey. And “residence” really is appropriate here, as the casino will build the first “signature” WSOP poker room outside of a Caesars property.
World Series of Poker Circuit Events are series of lower buy-in, more accessible poker tournaments held at casinos throughout the United States… and now the world. The WSOPC was designed to both expand the WSOP brand and become the premier mid-stakes tournament series worldwide. Much of the appeal to players is the opportunity to compete in WSOP-organized events at an affordable price. Ring events other than the Main Event at any given WSOP Circuit stop come with just a $365 buy-in. Main Events cost $1,675. Compare that to the traditional World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, where the cheapest event is $1,000 and to make the money, players have to wade through thousands of competitors. Additionally, rather than having to travel to Las Vegas, players can often find a WSOP Circuit event closer to home. For example, Circuit events going on right now are taking place in Baltimore and St. Louis, while others are held in Oklahoma, North Carolina, Iowa, and Louisiana, to name a few locations. Whereas it requires a budget of both time and money to go play in the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, most people can test their skill in a WSOP Circuit event for a fraction of the price and often need only commit a day or a weekend.
As mentioned, Marrakesh will feature eight ring events, but the U.S.-based Circuit events go with the “12 Rings in 12 Days” format. Rings are essentially the Circuit equivalent of the WSOP gold bracelet. Players in WSOP Circuit events earn points for how they finish in ring events; the overall points leader for a Circuit stop is crowned the Casino Champion. Those Casino Champions, plus the Main Event winners at each Circuit stop, earn automatic entry into the WSOP National Championship, typically held just before the start of the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. Another 58 players, the players with the highest point totals throughout the entire Circuit season, will join them (because there may be overlap, the qualifying places might go down past 58).
The World Series of Poker says it is in talks with dozens of other casinos around the world to serve as hosts for more international WSOP Circuit events. Seeing as there will be an International Casino Championship next year, it makes sense that more stops will be added, or the field would be quite small for a $1 million freeroll.