- Andrew Feldman, ESPN.com
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The 2011-12 World Series of Poker Circuit season could only be viewed as a huge success as attendance and prize pools were up dramatically year-over-year. Building on that momentum, the WSOP announced on Monday an expansion to 20 stops for the 2012-13 season. River Rock Casino (Vancouver, British Columbia), Foxwoods Resort Casino (Mashantucket, Conn.), Horseshoe Cleveland (Cleveland, Ohio) and Harrah's Cherokee (Cherokee, N.C.) will host WSOP Circuit events over the next 10 months along with 16 returning venues from last season. The new season begins on Aug. 9 at the IP Casino Resort & Spa in Biloxi, Miss.
The 2012-13 Circuit will retain the "12 rings in 12 days" moniker, which reflects the 12 events played at each venue. The season will conclude with the national championship in New Orleans, where 100 qualifiers and the top 100 players in the WSOP World Rankings are eligible to participate in the bracelet event with at least a $1 million prize pool. Those that are eligible to play due to their world rankings qualifications must pay $10,000 to buy in while those that earned their way through the circuit are on a freeroll. The 100 circuit qualifiers are divided by automatic bids (40 players -- 20 main event champions, 20 casino champions) and those who finish on top of the WSOP Circuit leaderboard (60 players).
"It's very cool to see the addition of a new series in Canada," said Huy Nguyen, the third-place finisher in the 2012 national championship. "More stops also means a lot more point chasers, so New Orleans will be huge!"
As Nguyen mentioned, the fact that the national championship will be played in New Orleans instead of Las Vegas can create an interesting dynamic for the tour's final stop. Players may head to the final "regular season" events in New Orleans for their last chance to qualify for the national championship, but the overall turnout for the event may be reduced by holding the event outside of the WSOP confines. If only 57 out of the 100 eligible players in the WSOP World Rankings bought into the event when they were in the same city, it might be hard to convince players to travel for the event when it's in New Orleans.
Similar to last season, all $1,675 main events will be re-entry events, meaning that players who bust during the first morning flight can take a second shot during the evening flight. The 2011-12 circuit attracted 71,691 entries, the most in the history of the WSOPC.
"We're coming off the best year of participation in the history of the WSOP Circuit and the addition of these new markets really brings our vision to life," WSOP executive director Ty Stewart said. "We want to have the No. 1 regional tour to go alongside the No. 1 super event in poker. We believe we have the best offering in terms of value and ROI at these stakes and the most exciting championship format."
Here is the complete 2012-13 WSOP Circuit schedule:
2012-2013 WSOP Circuit Schedule
10mEthan Sherwood Strauss