WSOP Brings Back Live Circuit Events, Announces Schedule for 2021-22

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In another sign that the country is recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, the WSOP Circuit announced a return to card rooms across the US, Canada, and the Caribbean, starting at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort in North Carolina on Thanksgiving.

Maurice “The Hulk” Hawkings is the king of the WSOP Circuit with 14 rings. (Image: WSOP)

So far, WSOP-C has 13 events planned for the 2021-22 season.

  • Nov. 25 to Dec. 6 —  Harrah’s Cherokee
  • Dec. 4 to 15 — Bicycle Casino, Los Angeles
  • Dec. 9 to 19 — Hilton Aruba
  • Jan. 6 to 17 — Choctaw Durant, Oklahoma
  • Jan. 12 to 23 — Deerfoot Inn, Calgary 
  • Jan. 13 to 24 — Thunder Valley Casino, California
  • Jan. 20 to 31 — Horseshoe Tunica
  • Feb. 3 to 14 — Isle of Pompano, Florida
  • March 10 to 21 — Hard Rock Tulsa
  • March 17 to 28 — Turning Stone, New York
  • April 7 to 18 — Harrah’s Cherokee
  • April 21 to May 2 — Horseshoe Tunica
  • May 5 – 16 — Harrah’s New Orleans

Players will be vying for more than $2.5 million in guarantees in 13 ring events at Cherokee. The WSOP isn’t giving players any breaks: the series starts two days after the final WSOP event ends. Here’s the full schedule.

On the road again

The WSOP restarted its live Circuit events after a 16-month hiatus with a two-week, 13-event series at Harrah’s Cherokee in August. Calling it a “warm-up” to the WSOP now going on in Las Vegas, the $1,700 event attracted 1,139 players. Ben Boston took down the $500K guaranteed tourney for $287K.

“It’s been too long, so it’s great to see the Circuit hitting the road once again,” said Ty Stewart, Senior Vice President and Executive Director of the World Series of Poker, in a statement. “The WSOP-C is one of our most important initiatives, allowing regional players to experience big-time poker and providing grinders a platform to earn a living.”

The Circuit will continue using the big blind ante format and tournament structures will be the same across all of the events to give traveling players consistency between venues. While most of the properties have hosted WSOP-C series in the past, the Isle of Pompano, Deerfoot Inn, and Thunder Valley are new stops on the tour.

Giving something back to the players

Like most forms of “in-person” entertainment, the live poker and casino industry was hammered flat by COVID-19 and the protocols required to try to stem the pandemic. In 2020, the WSOP was forced to cancel nine Circuit events in the US and three in Europe as a result of COVID.

To make up for the lost events, WSOP spread a dozen Circuit series across its online platforms in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Nevada. Ring winners of these events are invited to a $250K freeroll on Dec. 28.

Moving forward, the WSOP plans to schedule one online Circuit series a month in 2022.

The winners of those online events, and all of the other ring winners both from online and live Circuit events, will be invited to a $1 million freeroll Tournament of Champions that will be held sometime next summer. Ladies’ events and seniors’ events are being added to most schedules, which are still being draw-up. The winners of these events will also qualify for the Tournament of Champions freeroll.

“We’re pumped up about the new ‘Tournament of Champions’ format where all our winners will come together for one event. Just win and you’re in!” Stewart said.

Maurice Hawkins is the king of the WSOP Circuit, which has been going on since 2005.  With 14 rings to his name, Hawkins, a Florida-based pro who calls himself “The Hulk,” has amassed more than $2 million in WSOP-C winnings. He won his most recent ring in a $400 event at Choctaw in January 2020. He’s also cashed three times at this year’s WSOP in Las Vegas, making one final table.

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