The World Series of Poker National Championship has only been around three years, but it has already established itself as one of the big events on the US poker calendar. Players from all over North America worked for months to earn a spot in the event, playing at numerous stops on the 20-event 2012-2013 WSOP Circuit calendar.
Tonight, those grinders and poker fans all over the country will get to see the fruits of their labor on national television. From 9pm ET to 11pm ET, the players of the WSOP Circuit take center stage on the premiere of the 2013 WSOP National Championship coverage on ESPN.
This bracelet event is best known as a chance for the players of the Circuit to prove their worth against the top players from the WSOP, as the 100 Circuit qualifiers played against bracelet winners and poker-made millionaires who ponied up $10,000 to take part in the tournament. In past years, Circuit qualifiers Sam Barnhart and Ryan Eriquezzo made names for themselves by besting the tough competition.
This year’s final table pitted four pros who bought in for $10,000 against four Circuit players, making for a unique and entertaining mishmash of recreational players and poker sharks. October Niner Jeremy Ausmus, two-time bracelet winner Brock Parker, bracelet winner Max Steinberg, and Joe Tehan have all had their moments in the spotlight prior to this. For Nicolas Vaca-Rondon, John Bowman, Robert Pantich, and Jonathan Hilton, this event is their chance to leave their mark on the poker world.
This tournament also made history, as it was the first time a WSOP bracelet was awarded in the States outside of Vegas. Harrah’s New Orleans played host to this year’s event and the change in venue proved to be a big hit with the players in the tournament. Not only did the week provide some great poker, it also offered players great food, great fun, and even a little trip on a Lousiana steamboat.
Tonight’s episode highlights some of the local culture with the show’s new Side Action segment. Side Action gives fans a chance to see what goes on away from the poker tables at WSOP events. Side Action isn’t the only new segment on tap for this season of WSOP coverage. Shortly after the Main Event coverage gets underway, viewers will be getting a weekly dose of White Magic from Phil Hellmuth himself. What exactly does White Magic entail? Well, you’ll have to watch to find out.
And if tonight's show has you clamoring to play some poker, don't forget that this year's Circuit season kicks off in just over a week in Foxwoods, Connecticut. The 2013-2014 season features 22 stops and will once again offer 100 freeroll seats into the 2014 WSOP National Championship, which will be played in Atlantic City, New Jersey next May.
Coverage of the National Championship begins tonight at 9pm ET. While you wait for the show to get underway, check out this week’s Side Action segment from the Big Easy: