Top US Poker Tournaments in 2022

U.S. Poker Tournaments
Posted on: April 06, 2022 03:44 PDT

The United States poker scene is alive and well. Some fans and players even claim 2022 is delivering a new poker boom. There are a multitude of new and evergreen tournament options for poker players across the country and throughout the year.

The current poker landscape revolves around major series like the World Series of Poker and World Poker Tour. But series in the mid-majors category, with buy-ins ranging from $1K to $5K, have carved out their own places in the market in the years since the poker boom. Entire tours offer mid-major buy-ins, while high-stakes players still find action with the PokerGO Tour. 

Many casinos and cardrooms in America also provide daily and weekly tournaments.

What are the top 5 poker tournaments in the US?

1. World Series of Poker (WSOP)

The World Series of Poker is the longest running poker tournament series in the world.

Early days

The WSOP began running in 1970 when a handful of poker players gathered at the Binion’s Horseshoe in Las Vegas, Nevada to determine the best all-around player.

Over time, more players competed in different tournament formats. TV coverage and WSOP player personalities generated increased attention. Satellite tournaments gave a growing player pool the opportunity to compete starting in 1983.

The Moneymaker effect

In 2003, Chris Moneymaker catapulted the WSOP’s popularity to a new level. His WSOP Main Event victory showcased him as an average recreational player who won an online poker satellite for less than $100 and turned that into $2.5M in Las Vegas. That victory launched what became the 2003 poker boom.

Growth of the WSOP

The WSOP grew from 36 events in 2003 to 55 in 2007 and up to 90 in 2019. The global popularity of poker prompted World Series organizers to add a WSOP Europe series in 2007 that continues today.

A new online poker market in the U.S. added several tournaments during the 2015 summer WSOP and more each year. Partners in the online poker world then helped the WSOP weather the pandemic storm in 2020, when the WSOP had to cancel its live tournaments for the first time in more than 50 years. 

The WSOP today

The World Series of Poker remains a strong brand, and the gold WSOP winner’s bracelet is still the most coveted prize in all of poker. 

The 2022 WSOP is scheduled to present 88 tournaments at the Bally’s and Paris Las Vegas casinos and more than a dozen events online. It runs May 31 to July 29, with some events livestreamed and others filmed for televised broadcasts. 

2. WSOP Circuit (WSOP-C)

One of the many results of the poker boom was the implementation of the World Series of Poker Circuit. Starting in 2005, the WSOP started offering events for a lower price point. With the new offering, more players could compete in more locations around the United States.

Instead of awarding WSOP gold bracelets, organizers crafted a WSOP-C gold ring for Circuit event winners. 

Those WSOP Circuit events took place at Caesars Entertainment casinos around the U.S. The first year saw Circuit events starting in January and running monthly in locations like Atlantic City, San Diego, Lake Tahoe, Tunica, and Las Vegas. Over time, it made more sense to schedule a WSOP Circuit season from the end of the summer WSOP to the beginning of the next one. 

WSOP-C tournament popularity

The WSOP Circuit is more popular than ever. More players can afford to compete, and the locations around the country are more convenient for recreational players. The WSOP-C has expanded beyond Caesars properties to include stops at prestigious venues like Turning Stone in Verona, N.Y. There are even international WSOP-C stops from Europe to Africa and South America to Australia. 

Online players can get in on the action, too. U.S. Circuit Online events run year-round for players in states like Nevada, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. International players can compete on the GGPoker network for Circuit rings.

The 2021-2022 WSOP-C season started in November 2021, which was later than usual due to the pandemic. The Circuit runs through May 2022. Each casino stop will offer at least 12 gold ring events and a $1,700 buy-in Main Event. All ring winners then win a seat at the 2022 Tournament of Champions (TOC) — a freeroll with a $1M prize pool.

3. World Poker Tour (WPT)

The World Poker Tour began as the brainchild of documentary producer Steve Lipscomb. He teamed up with poker pros Mike Sexton and Linda Johnson to host a series of poker tournaments around the world, with each filmed for a television series on the Travel Channel. 

WPT history

The WPT set out on its first tour in 2002. It started at the Bellagio in Las Vegas and continued to Aruba, Costa Rica, several locations in the United States, and France. There was even a PartyPoker Million cruise. TV broadcasts featured Sexton and actor Vince Van Patten in the commentary booth. 

This is where Sexton dubbed his signature phrase: “May all your cards be live and your pots be monsters!”

The World Poker Tour went from a private to public company within just a few years of its launch. PartyGaming bought the company for more than $12M in 2009, then sold it to Ourgame International in 2015 for $35M. In 2021, a private investment group bought the WPT for $105M.

The WPT tournament today

In 2022, the WPT is celebrating its 20th anniversary. Among its many accomplishments, the popular poker tournament has been broadcast in more than 150 countries and territories and translated into numerous languages. It also highlighted some of poker’s greatest personalities, including Doyle Brunson, Gus Hansen, and Mike Sexton himself. In a testament to its popularity, the WPT spawned offshoots like WPT Alpha8, and the Professional Poker Tour. 

The current WPT season hosted two tournaments at the Seminole Hard Rock in Florida and the WPT Choctaw in Oklahoma. More events will join the schedule as the year progresses. 

4. WPTDeepStacks and WPT Prime

One of the many ways the World Poker Tour expanded in the past two decades was by acquiring another brand. The WPT bought a mid-majors poker tour called DeepStacks in 2014 and rebranded it as WPTDeepStacks (WPTDS).

More poker tournaments around the world

The new tour offered prestige, more stops with lower buy-ins, and a chance for more players to compete in events with WPT structures. It also traveled to more countries around the world, with events in Australia, Russia, Belgium, South Africa, Amsterdam, Korea, Taiwan, and Vietnam.

WPTDeepStacks and WPT Prime 2022

The 2022 WPTDS season began with scheduled stops in Amsterdam, Sydney, and California. Those are in process and running through the Thunder Valley stop in Northern California in late April.

In February 2022, though, the WPT announced that it was retiring the WPTDeepStacks brand after the California stop. It will launch WPT Prime in its place.

WPT Prime

WPT Prime will be more intertwined with the WPT main tour, using the same leaderboard to determine a single Player of the Year. Each WPT Prime stop will consist of a festival culminating in a Main Event. The player who earns the most points during each festival will win a trophy. 

The only stops on the WPT Prime tour in 2022 thus far are in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Taiwan. However, organizers may add more stops as the year progresses, possibly in the United States.

5. Mid-States Poker Tour (MSPT)

The MSPT started in 2009 as a tour dedicated to players in Minnesota. The Minnesota State Poker Tour (MSPT) quickly developed a following, though, and responded to pleas from poker players throughout the United States.

By 2011, the tournament developed into a mid-majors tour for Middle America, for players at casinos and card rooms often overlooked by larger tours. It kept the same abbreviation — MSPT — but changed its name to the Mid-States Poker Tour.

The goal was to offer affordable No Limit Hold’em tournaments with deep stacks. The Main Events ran on weekends in a move helpful to recreational and part-time players.

MSPT 2022

Season 13 of the MSPT tour began in 2022, running from January through December. Several regional events are on the schedule, but the primary stops offer 15 Main Events with room for the MSPT to add more in the last few months of the year. 

MSPT events have now become the highlighted portions of statewide series like the Ohio State and South Dakota State Poker Championships, Iowa and Michigan State Poker Championships, and even the US Poker Championship. It also serves as the largest draw for the Venetian DeepStack Poker Series in Las Vegas. 

With the Mid-States Poker Tour now serving as the primary competitor for the WSOP Circuit, more people will follow the MSPT in 2022 than ever before.

Other Major U.S. Poker Tournaments in 2022

Here are a few of the other top U.S. poker tournaments in 2022.

The PokerGo Tour

As tours in the U.S. began to focus more on mid-majors buy-ins in the past few years, high-stakes poker players had fewer options for $10K buy-ins and higher. Enter the PokerGO Tour.

The PokerGo Tour started as a way for Poker Central to offer several big events per year, like the Super High Roller Bowl. However, the tour’s popularity quickly created grassroots demand for a more robust roster of events. 

The tour now hosts a year-round series of tournaments like the US Poker Open and Heads-Up Poker Showdown. These tourneys mostly take place in Las Vegas at the Aria Resort & Casino but add occasional stops in places like Prague and Cyprus. Most buy-ins start at $10K and increase to $100K and even $250K.

The RunGood Poker Series

Back at a more comfortable level for the poker masses, the RunGood Poker Series (RGPS) is a mid-majors tour with the lowest buy-in Main Events at a price point of approximately $600. Known for its fun atmosphere and for appearing at casinos left off other tours, RGPS developed a strong following that continues to grow.

Heartland Poker Tour

While there was some speculation that the Heartland Poker Tour may return this year, the event organizers have been silent since July 2020.

Local poker tournaments

Some poker rooms across America have created tournament series that stand out from the rest. Even with no affiliation with the WPT, these series and events offer huge attractions on their own. Players like the variety of local tournaments that go beyond Texas Hold’em into Omaha and mixed games. Plus, they add formats like a monster stack or reentry.

Here are a few of the best local poker tournaments players love:

  • The Wynn Las Vegas hosts four seasonal Poker Classic tours throughout the year. The largest is the Wynn Millions with its $10M guarantee. 
  • The Venetian offers DeepStack series throughout the calendar year. 
  • The Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown contains numerous must-play tournaments in Hollywood, Florida.
  • Poker rooms like the Commerce and Bicycle Casino in Los Angeles continue to draw players to their series as well.
  • New card rooms like Prime Social in Houston are also ready to compete for live event players in the coming years.

Featured image source:  Flickr by World Poker Tour used under CC license