Over the years, the World Series of Poker Circuit (WSOPC) has become one of poker’s most popular and successful tours, attracting thousands of players and grinders each season. Every year, players travel to different stops hoping to win a coveted WSOP Circuit ring and take a slice of the massive guarantees on offer. Since starting in 2005, the WSOPC has served as breeding ground for some of the finest tournament players in the US, awarding millions of dollars in prize money.
But recently, the tour became the subject of criticism from a handful of grinders and regulars who have taken issue with a number of changes the WSOPC has introduced over the past few years, the latest of which is the increase from 10 percent to 15 percent in player payouts. Concerned players say the changes offer very low profitability potential for grinders, making it totally worthless to travel to play at the stops thinking they can make some money.
Grinders Speak Out Against Changes
Among those who have been vocal about the issue was nine-time WSOPC winner Dan Lowery, who has amassed more than $1.1 million in cashes throughout his career, making him one of the most successful players on the tour. In a Twitter post, the American poker pro said he will only play a few selected events on the schedule this season due to the changes.
Lowery said the watered down structures, along with plenty of reentries will only benefit those running the tournament, not the players. The changes will also hit the dealers considering that the starting stacks become inflated resulting in them getting overworked but underpaid. Dealers also pay for their travel, accommodation and even food.
Some of the other Circuit regulars, such as Chris Conrad, John Holley, DJ MacKinnon and John Richards also voiced their sentiments, saying they might skip the majority of the events on the schedule and play only the $1,700 Main Events. MacKinnon said the change in structures is a joke and that the WSOP has chosen to ignore what the grinders and regulars have to say about the changes. MacKinnon has also questioned why the company discontinued a former practice of sending surveys to players which started around 2014.
Conrad echoed MacKinnon’s assertion and said that offers to sit down and discuss things have been rejected by the WSOP management. Conrad currently ranks second in most WSOPC cashes of all time.
WSOPC Responds To Concers
In light of the recent concerns from players, Caesars Vice President of Corporate Communications Seth Palansky made an effort to clear the brand’s name and stressed that the changes have been implemented with the main focus on the recreational player. Palansky said their decisions in relation to structures, starting stacks and payouts stem from player feedback and that the grievances of a small number of poker pros will not influence decisions from the WSOP. His statement could imply that the opinions shared on Twitter are coming from a vocal minority.
Palansky said these changes reflect similar shifts adopted at the flagship WSOP, which have been massively successful. The WSOP moved to 15 percent payouts over the last few years and even introduced a drastic increase in starting stacks this year.Even with these changes, participation was maintained, with the new deepstack events attracting huge fields.
Events with buy-ins within the $1k range also turned out to be stronger. Palansky fell short of saying that the changes directly contributed to the success of this year’s tournament, but they believe that applying the same reforms to the Circuit will yield positive results.
WSOPC’s first stop of the 2019-20 season at Choctaw Durand was a huge success, with the Main Event attracting a total of 976 entries, creating a total prize pool of $1,478,640. Choctaw’s Multi-Flight Reentry had some good results as well, with 2,206 entries and $727,980 in total prize pool.
The players who participated in the discussion on Twitter regarding the changes were all firm in their decision saying that they wouldn’t be grinding the full schedule in the coming season and would only play the Main Events and some selected stops. Whether or not this stand will influence the decisions of other players remains to be seen.