L.A.’s Bicycle Casino serves as press agent for changes to WSOP Circuit championship

Haley Hintze
Published by:
Posted on 12/03/2021

It’s unusual for news about a major poker entity’s upcoming offerings to emerge through a secondary partner, but in the case of the World Series of Poker’s long-running Circuit series, that’s what happened regarding the Circuit’s upcoming 2021-22 season and its newly planned conclusion. That’s a new $1 million freeroll “Tournament of Champions” that you’ve likely heard little or nothing about. And news of this important event, plus the demise of the Circuit’s long-running leaderboard system, came not from the WSOP, but from the host venue for the Circuit’s first 2021-22 season stop, the Bicycle Casino in Los Angeles.

News of the changes broke earlier this week in a post on the Bike’s Twitter account, which in turn led to a short, not very detailed blog post on Bicycle Casino’s home site. Titled “Some Changes Coming for the WSOPC,” the Bike’s brief post explained that for its upcoming Circuit stop, there wouldn’t be any leaderboard race.

“We have received several questions about whether there would be a Player of the Series point system in place for these events,” the Bike’s post offered. “In years past, the Player of the Series, and the winner of the WSOPC Main Event at every stop, was guaranteed a seat in the $1 million freeroll at the end of the season.”

Cherokee-based Global Casino Championship meets its demise

It took a couple of days longer for anything to come out from the WSOP itself about this restructuring to its Circuit series’ finale. Yesterday, in its own overview of the Bike’s Circuit stop, which begins on Saturday, December 4, the WSOP offered this paragraph:

“Any official gold ring winners from this WSOP Circuit stop will qualify for the new invitation-only ‘Tournament of Champions.’ The $1 million freeroll event will be held during the 2022 World Series of Poker tournament in Las Vegas. 2022 online and live bracelet winners will also be eligible to compete in the new signature event.”

Though it’s not stated anywhere to date, this new million-dollar freeroll has to supplant the WSOP Circuit’s Global Casino Championship, which was held through 2020. For several years up through 2019, it was held at Harrah’s Cherokee, in North Carolina, usually in September. (A 2020 version was held online, due to pandemic restrictions). The Global Casino Championship awarded two free entries at each Circuit stop. One went to each stop’s Main Event winner, while the other went to the leading points earner for that series.

Each Circuit stop calculated its own “Venue Leaderboard,” and the WSOP also maintained a season-long national Circuit leaderboard. Players who didn’t win a Circuit main event or a Casino Champion title, but who still finished in the top 50 in the season-long points chase, could buy into the Global Casino Championship.

It was a complex arrangement, though it did keep a few dozen Circuit grinders busy traveling from stop to stop, trying to make those top 50 spots. And, it’s gone now, with nary a whimper.

‘Tournament of Champions’ joins regular WSOP series

Moving the Circuit’s new Tournament of Champions into the latter part of the live 2022 WSOP makes sense from a turnout standpoint. The old Global Casino Championship never drew much more than 120 or so entrants despite the money at stake. By opening it up to every ring winner, the $1 million event should easily double its turnout. And though it’s a freeroll, it keeps those players in town playing at the WSOP, and maybe in a few other events as well.

Once it becomes more widely known, it will also be a promotional boost to Circuit stops throughout the 2021-22 season. Done properly, it can create a positive feedback cycle of player interest, with that big freeroll waiting someone at season’s end.

Of course, that adds to the curiosity of the WSOP dropping the ball a bit on announcing the new Tournament of Champions’ debut, to the point that the Bike had to step in and make its own brief announcement. Call it a bit of a WSOP hangover, plus an acknowledgment that due to the pandemic, the WSOP’s media department remains chronically undermanned. Still, the word managed to get out, sort of.

Featured image source: World Series of Poker