Harrah’s announced the creation of the World Series of Poker Tournament Circuit which marked the beginning of the 36th annual World Series of Poker season. And with it began their efforts to evolve the World Series of Poker from a month-long frenzied rush into a year-long sport. The Tournament Circuit is a set of poker tournament stops at different casinos that will host all-comer events for players seeking high-level top-quality poker action. It also allows players based on their performance at the tournament circuit events and the World Series of Poker, to qualify them for entry into the Tournament of Champions event. The Tournament of Champions is a freeroll event meaning that no player who will participate has to put up any of his or her own funds to play. Harrah’s determines the number of players from each of the tournament circuit events who will qualify.
With the popularity of poker on the rise, Harrah’s sought to capitalize on this movement by having 5 legs of the circuit that would be open to anyone who wanted to play regardless of skill level. Events were held in Atlantic City, NJ during January, San Diego, CA in February, Las Vegas, NV in March, Lake Tahoe, NV in April, and New Orleans, LA in May. Each of the events was taped and will be aired on ESPN. All champions who won their events received a WSOP championship gold ring and a sizable amount of cash, which easily reached the six-figure level in the Main Events. The buy-ins for the tournaments ranged from a few hundred dollars to $10,000 per person for participation in the Championship Main Event held at each circuit leg. The game for each of the Main Events was Texas No-Limit Holder poker.
The response from the poker-playing public was well-received drawing noted professionals like Erick Lindgren, Mimi Tran, Chris Ferguson, Chad Brown, Dewey Tomko, Robert Williamson III, Andy Bloch, J.C. Tran, Jennifer Harman Traniello, Tony Ma, Phil Ivey, John Cernuto, David Pham, Joe Awada, Antonio Esfandiari and others to the tables. It also brought out many superior regional poker players who are well-known and respected in their areas of the country.
Since the acquisition of the World Series of Poker name and brand, Harrah’s has been on a mission to expand the name into their properties and new areas of which the tournament circuit is one, so you can trust that this will be around for a number of years. Now the amount of “rake” the company earns from event prize pools is 6%, and this money is used to pay dealers and other expenses. Given the magnitude of tournament operations, that can’t leave that much for profit. So why do they do it? A company spokesperson stated that the international exposure, newspaper, and media coverage they are receiving on these events is priceless to them. It is helping to lay the groundwork for the corporation to expand greater than what they already are. So you can count on Harrah’s to continue the effort to make the World Series of Poker bigger and better than it presently is.