The World Series of Poker Circuit Tour has announced events in Morocco, Italy, and Mexico, marking the first time in its 10-year history that the series will venture away from its home soil in the US.
In a continued effort to become a more global series, the three international stops on the WSOP Circuit will be included in the 2015-2016 season, with the first planned to kickoff in just one week. “It’s time to emphasize the ‘World’ in “World Series of Poker,” Executive Director Ty Stewart said.
Perhaps more newsworthy is the announcement of the 2016 WSOP International Casino Championship, an exclusive $1 million freeroll that will be the sole invitation-only bracelet.
Circuit main event winners as well as the highest point earner for the tournament at both US and international stops will automatically qualify for the competition. WSOP executives are optimistic in taking the circuit abroad, believing it provides the chance for international players to finally experience a World Series event.
With travel expenses possibly topping even a main event buy-in, the majority of players can’t afford to trek to Vegas for a poker tournament. As WSOP Director Gregory Chochon put it, bringing the circuit to them gives “players a more direct path to reach the ultimate WSOP dream.”
The first event runs March 7th to the 15th in Marrakesh, Morocco, a seven-day tournament featuring eight rings, with both the main event and casino champ heading to the $1 million world championship. The circuit will then head back to the US for the summer, before traveling overseas in the fall to Lake Lugano, Italy.
Details of that tournament haven’t been finalized, but by all accountsÂ are expected to mirror the Morocco structure. Mexico’s circuit event will be held sometime in early 2016 in Monterrey, a large city in the northern part of the country just 140 miles south of the US-Mexico border.
Morocco’s Casino de Marrakesh Es Saadi, Italy’s Casino Campione D’Italia, and Mexico’s Casino Jubilee de Monterrey will serve as hosts for the circuit events, but they also acquired the exclusive rights to the WSOP trademark in their country.
Through the partnership, the casinos will promote WSOP themed tournaments, sell merchandise, and use the brand to offer patrons a World Series of Poker look and feel thousands of miles from the Rio in Vegas.
Three events certainly adds to the “world” part of World Series of Poker, but more dates and countries are needed to truly recognize an international champ, which is why the series is currently negotiating with additional casinos.
“Discussions with nearly a dozen other casino groups are ongoing, with others expected to join this new program aimed at bringing the famed WSOP brand to regions around the globe,” says Seth Palansky, WSOP.com editor-in-chief.
It’s an interesting time in brick-and-mortal live tournament play as the likes of the World Poker Tour, European Poker Tour, and WSOP jockey for global positioning, strategizing to discover the strongest markets and locales that will increase their overall brands.
The WPT seems to be moving in a more Euro-Asian shift, the WSOP is just beginning its overseas adventure, and the EPT has said “au revoir” to France.