WSOP Circuit off to a Strong Start

More than 2,200 people turned out for the No-limit Hold-em re-buy event at the World Series of Poker Circuit stop at Horseshoe Hammond in Hammond, Ind. The re-buy events and monster stack tourneys are proving to be very popular at this year’s World Series of Poker Circuit stops.

The first six events of the 2015-16 World Series of Poker Circuit are in the books, and judging by the numbers, it appears the tour is looking for another successful season. The 2015-16 World Series of Poker Circuit kicked off Aug. 6 at Foxwoods Resort and Casino in Connecticut with 19 scheduled stops in casinos around the country. The latest stop at Harvey’s in Lake Tahoe is wrapping up Monday.

Each tour stop features a dozen “ring” events and a few side events (such as seniors or ladies events). Each stop features a Main Event tournament with a $1,675 buy-in. The other 11 tournaments are an assortment of games (Omaha, turbo, 6-max, re-entries, Deep Stack, etc.) with buy-ins usually of $365 or $580. A few stops offer high-roller tourneys with buy-ins of $1,125 or higher.

Re-entry, Monster Stack Events Prove Popular

Every stop features at least one NLHE re-entry event during which players can re-enter after busting out. These events generate by far the most entries at each stop, drawing an average of 1,221 players so far.

If you’re only going to play one event at a circuit stop, you should check this one out. If you play your cards right, you could clean up on chips in the early going. I played in the rebuy event last spring in Cherokee, and I saw a few players bust out intentionally when their stocks got low so they could rebuy. They made no effort at trying to rebuild their stack. If they lost a big hand and got down to 3,000 chips or so (starting stacks are 10,000), they would just shove the next hand and if they lost, go back to the window and plunk down another entry fee. The large prize pool and opportunity to re-enter encourage some loose play in the early stages.

Almost every stop this year includes a monster-stack event that gives each player 20,000 chips to start (compared to 10,000 for all the other events except for the Main Event, which also features a starting stack of 20,000 chips). Like the Colossus at this summer’s World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, the monster stack events are proving quite popular, averaging 410 players per stop (the stop at Horseshoe Southern Indiana did not feature a monster stack event).  This is more than double for the other variations (6-max tourneys are averaging 150 players, turbo tourneys are averaging 137 and Omaha Pot Limit is averaging less than 100. Upcoming stops at Planet Hollywood (Las Vegas), Harrah’s Cherokee and the Bicycle Casino (Los Angeles) all show a monster stack event.

Horseshoe Southern Indiana is the one location that did not include a monster stack event on its schedule, but they are the only stop that included a Bounty tourney. Significantly, the $365 bounty event drew 174 runners, more than any other event at the stop other than the Main Event and the re-buy event. The World Series of Poker included its first-ever bounty tourney this year, and the event with a $1,500 buy-in ($500 for a bounty and the rest to the prize pool) drew 2,178 entries. Only eight of the remaining 67 WSOP events had a larger field. It would be nice to see more bounty tourneys in future circuit events.

Guarantees are also becoming more prevalent. The upcoming stop in Cherokee in December features a guaranteed prize pool for every tournament, including $1 million for the Main Event and a $500,000 guarantee for the $365 re-entry tournament.

Total attendance is also up, with the first six events this year averaging 3,401 players compared to 3,142 from 2014-15.

Main Event Participation Increases

For the last two years, average attendance at each stop’s Main Event has dropped. In 2012-13, the WSOP Circuit stops averaged 640 players in the Main Event. That number dropped to 604 players in 2013-14 and to 583 runners in 2014-15, a decrease of 8.9% from 2012-13.

Kelly Minkin, who was featured prominently in ESPN’s Coverage of the World Series of Poker Main Event after finishing in 29th place, made the final table of the Horseshoe Hammond’s Main Event. After the first six stops on the 2015-16 WSOP Circuit, the Main Event is averaging 590 players, a significant increase over the 503 average for the first six stops in the 2014-15 WSOP Circuit.

For the first six stops this year, the Main Event is averaging 590 players, which appears to be only a slight increase from last year’s overall average but is actually a significant increase. Through the first six stops in 2014-15, the Main Event was averaging only 503 players (the fall Horseshoe Baltimore stop replaced the IP Biloxi stop).

Four of the six locations (Palm Beach Kennel Club, Horseshoe Southern Indiana, Horseshoe Hammond and Harvey’s Lake Tahoe) drew larger fields for the Main Event than in 2014-15, including an increase of 229 at the Hammond event, from 1,147 to 1,376.

The circuit gives casual poker fans the chance to experience the excitement of the World Series of Poker and the chance to play against professional players without having to travel to Las Vegas. If you think you are up to the challenge, check out the schedule and see if you can make it to an upcoming event.

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