August 10, 2012 (Las Vegas)—It's been a few weeks since the World Series of Poker (WSOP) unveiled the 2012-13 WSOP Circuit schedule and players have had time to digest the changes and improvements. The addition of four new stops, relocation of the WSOP National Championship, a first-time partnership with Southern Comfort 100 Proof and revised points breakdowns are among the most prominent changes set to take place in 2012-13.
For the first time ever, the WSOP Circuit will head to Canada when River Rock Casino in Vancouver, British Columbia hosts the 12 rings in 12 days series. Additionally, stops have been added at Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut, Harrah's Cherokee in North Carolina and at the brand-new Horseshoe Cleveland.
Two-time Circuit champion and 2011 Bossier City Main Event Champion, David Nicholson, who is one of a number of players in attendance at the season-opener in Biloxi, weighed in on the additions.
"The new stops are great for the WSOP Circuit. They should get more players involved, so it's definitely a good thing. I'm really interested to see how (River Rock) goes."
If poker had attendance awards like most elementary schools do, Matthew Chang would be at the top of his class. Chang attended 14 of the 17 Circuit stops in 2011-12, and he, more than anybody, is qualified to weigh in on anything and everything WSOP-Circuit related.
"Horseshoe Cleveland, Foxwoods and Harrah's Cherokee are all within driving distance for me so I'm really looking forward to them being added," Chang said. "I'm used to flying in and out of most stops. I'm also really looking forward to the stops that are returning this year."
In addition to the new stops, the WSOP National Championship has relocated to its home in New Orleans where the season-ending championship will be held May 21-23, 2013.
Previous years have seen the WSOP National Championship take place just prior to the WSOP's summer kick off as well as during the two-month long event. This year, the Championship will immediately follow the conclusion of the WSOP Circuit at Harrah's New Orleans, located just blocks from Bourbon Street.
Mark "Pegasus" Smith, the all-time WSOP Circuit ring leader and past participant of the WSOP National Championship, loves seeing the event move to New Orleans.
"I think it'll make it more of a Circuit Championship than when it was held in Las Vegas. I think it's good that they'll have the Circuit championship actually on the Circuit."
That sentiment is shared by many of the WSOP Circuit regulars.
"I love New Orleans and it's good for the players," Nicholson said. "This will definitely put more of a spotlight on the WSOP Circuit players," Nicholson said.
The Championship will continue to be nationally televised and it will again be a $1 Million dollar freeroll awarding a gold bracelet to the champion.
On top of the new stops and tweaks to the location, the 2012-13 WSOP Circuit has picked up a new sponsor -- Southern Comfort 100 Proof. The 2012-13 WSOP Circuit presented by Southern Comfort 100 Proof will feature on-site product samplings as well as regional campaigns promoting upcoming Circuit stops. The Circuit regulars were excited to hear more about the new presenting sponsor.
"Being from Kentucky, and Kentucky being known for beautiful women, fast horses and bourbon whiskey, I think it's a beautiful fit," Smith said of the new partnership.
Something lost in all the hoopla of new additions and relocations is the tweaking the WSOP Circuit points model received. Last year the points model was blanketed. That is, 10th place earned the same amount of points whether 100 entrants played an event or 3,000.
This year, the model received a percentage-based makeover. While places one through nine will continue to receive the same number of points, the remaining 20 percent of the in-the-money finishes will receive 10 points, the remaining 30 percent will receive 5 points and the remaining 50 percent will receive 2.5 points.
This new model rewards deep runs in large events moreso than the past model and it allows a level playing field for all those involved. Take a look at the complete WSOP Circuit points breakdown.
Yes, 2012-13 is bringing something different for everybody. For some, like Chicago-based professional poker player Aaron Massey, it's about redemption.
"Last year I had a good year on the Circuit," Massey said. "I was looking forward to the big stage. The summer came and Kurt (Jewell) and I were (in Las Vegas) the entire time and it didn't go the way we wanted. We've got big things coming ahead. That's why we got right back on the road. After the World Series of Poker ended, we only took three weeks off. We came back out here and got right back to it. We have to get where we want to be."
For Massey's close friend and two-time WSOP Circuit Main Event champion, Jewell, the 2012-13 season is about one thing -- gold.
"For me, I want to surpass Mark Pegasus Smith," Jewell said. "I've got four, I want six. Two rings is my goal."
Whether you have aspirations of proving to yourself you can do it, the lofty goal of six Circuit rings or are just a weekend grinder looking for some fun, the 2012-13 WSOP Circuit presented by Southern Comfort 100 Proof has something to offer to everyone.