Commentary

'11-'12 WSOP Circuit to feature 16 stops

Updated: July 29, 2011, 3:45 PM ET
By Andrew Feldman | ESPN.com

During the 2010 World Series of Poker, tournament staff released plans to rebuild the struggling WSOP Circuit. With added stops, new televised Regional Championship events and the 100-player National Championship, it appeared that the WSOPC was headed in the right direction. For the most part, the 2010-11 season of the WSOP was a success, with a record-setting 49,453 tournament entries during 15 tour stops. Lowering the buy-in for the main events was one of the best decisions made a year ago, but with the larger events still struggling to attract large fields, some additional enhancements have been made for the 2011-12 season.

The new 16-stop WSOPC season will begin on Sept. 8 in Bossier City, La., a new Circuit destination. In Bossier City, the WSOP will debut their "12 Rings in 12 Days" concept where there will be 12 events during 12 consecutive days. Not only will the length of each stop and tournament (and payout) structures be identical, but all $1,600 main events will start on Saturday with morning and evening flights. For the first time, the main events will also be re-entry tournaments. All WSOPC "gold ring events" (winners receive a gold ring) will have buy-ins ranging from $300 to $1,600.

The four Regional Championships have been removed from this year's schedule, but the televised National Championship will stay in place. The winners of the 16 $1,600 main events and 16 casino champions (those who earn the most points during a single Circuit stop) will earn automatic invites. They will be joined by the top 68 on the WSOP Circuit leaderboard (which ranks players based on finishes in sanctioned Circuit events). All those who qualify in that manner will receive the $10,000 buy-in, three nights hotel accommodations and a $500 travel stipend. There will be at least $1 million in the prize pool and a WSOP bracelet will be awarded to the champion.

The 2012 National Championship will also allow the top 100 players in the "WSOP World Rankings" to register. According to the WSOP, "The World Rankings will recognize cumulative performance in the open events at World Series of Poker and World Series of Poker Europe over a two-year period and will be released in November 2011."

"We made great strides with the WSOP Circuit tour last year," said WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart. "But we also learned a lot. We've 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."

Here is the complete 2011-12 WSOP Circuit schedule:

Andrew Feldman is ESPN.com's Poker Editor. He is the host of the Poker Edge Podcast and co-host of ESPN Inside Deal. Andrew has covered the poker industry for ESPN since 2004.

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