A great WSOP experience, or was it?

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A great entrepreneur once coined the phrase, “If you can’t come to us, we’ll come to you!” It may have taken a while for the World Series of Poker to grasp this, but once it had the ball it ran with it full steam ahead. Yes, the WSOP Circuit has been around for a few years, but only recently has it increased its schedule significantly, going so far as to venture outside of Harrah’s properties.

Kudos to the folks at Caesars Entertainment (as it is known now) for bringing the WSOP experience to the poker player who can’t afford to fly to Vegas or pay the steeper buy-ins that accompany the WSOP events at the Rio. One of the biggest benefactors of this new thinking has been the Palm Beach Kennel Club, a non-affiliated property that was granted permission to hold a WSOPC event, and what an event it was. Records broke daily, including the largest single-site tournament in Florida history (877 players for the opening $345 tournament), and the youngest WSOPC main event winner (our cover boy, 19-year-old online pro John Riordan of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.)

Without the WSOPC relaxing its location restrictions and Florida relaxing its buy-in limits, Riordan may never have known what it was like to capture this prestigious gold ring, and the poker world may never have had a chance to learn of Riordan. We know Riordan is a high-stakes player who eventually would be known in the national live setting, but why should he have to wait till he’s 21?

Oh, by the way, the winners of the WSOPC main events around the country are given a seat into the season-ending WSOPC National Championship in Vegas at Caesars Palace in May; only in this case Riordan can’t go. He has some getting older to do. How screwy is that? He has to surrender his free seat and a chance at another huge payday because you can’t play poker in Vegas until you’re 21. Funny, you can vote and fight for your country but you can’t check-raise the curmudgeon in Seat 8 because you’re only 19. Sorry, John. But that’s another topic for another time.

The Ante Up Brass immensely enjoyed playing in the WSOPC’s H.O.R.S.E. event at PBKC. One of us actually cashed, and that raised an interesting question: Does cashing in a WSOPC event mean you’ve cashed in the World Series? Some would say no because it’s not in Vegas and not in the annual tournament series that started it all. When you think of the WSOP you think of summer in the desert. And if you go on the WSOP website and look at the list of players who have cashed in WSOP-related events you’ll see each entry is broken down into WSOP cashes and circuit cashes. Question answered, right?

But what about the WSOP Europe (and the inevitable events that will pop up around the world)? Those are considered WSOP cashes, yet they aren’t held in Vegas. Is it the level of buy-in that makes it more “legitimate?” The WSOPC main events are $1,600, much more than the $1K “stimulus” bracelet events in Vegas, yet Riordan’s main-event win is still just considered a circuit cash.

In the end what’s most important is the achievement, not the status. But if Caesars is touting the WSOPC as the World Series experience then shouldn’t we consider the accomplishments to be on the same level? Just something to think about. And be sure to read our interview with WSOP Media Director Nolan Dalla at the back of the magazine. He has some great insight regarding the WSOP brand, poker history and online poker legislation.

We’ll see you at the tables.

— Christopher Cosenza and Scott Long