WSOP Circuit Bigger Than Ever Post-Black Friday

2011 WSOPC Hammond
The WSOP Circuit is proving that regional poker in the US is healthier than ever in the absence of online poker.

Unable to log on to the Internet to play poker, Americans are flocking to lower buy-in live events and putting this season of the WSOP Circuit on pace to be the biggest ever.

With six events down and 11 to go in the WSOPC’s 2011-2012 season, the tour is enjoying a 25% increase in entries and a 32% increase in prize pools over the same time last year.

The tour came out of the gate at a gallop when 3,001 players bought into this season’s first event, a $350 re-buy tournament that built a staggering $873,291 prize pool. Wisconsin native Aaron Bieck earned $124,438 for taking down that event.

And bigger fields mean stiffer competition for the WSOP Circuit National Championship seats that are awarded at each tour stop. Seats go to the winner of each stop’s main event, as well as the player who accumulates the most points throughout the stop’s 12 gold ring events.

The National Championship is a televised tournament that will feature a $1 million prize pool and will award an official WSOP gold bracelet to the winner. Last season’s Championship was won by Sam Barnhardt who earned $300,000 for the victory.

Also heating up is this year’s WSOP Circuit Player of the Year race. Last season’s POY Mark “Pegasus” Smith is looking to go back-to-back and currently sits second in the race to David Nicholson, a poker pro from Biloxi, Mississippi.

Mark Smith holds the record for the most WSOPC gold rings at five.

The WSOP Circuit will kick off the New Year in California at LA’s famous Bicycle Casino, the first time the tour has ever visited that venue. From there the tour heads to the Midwest and will touch down at the Choctaw Casino in Durant, Oklahoma for the second consecutive year.

Keep an eye on’s Poker News section for updates from the 2011-2012 WSOP Circuit.

Photo credit: Erik Harkins, IMPDI

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