WSOP Circuit Attendance Figures Keep On FallingMay 25, 2010 7:10 am
Back in 2005, just a couple of years after Chris Moneymaker had won the WSOP Main Event and help spark off the poker boom, the World Series of Poker decided to start their own WSOP branded poker tour known as the WSOP Circuit.
However, since then the WSOP Circuit has been experiencing a year on year decline in their attendance figures and this year’s Bayou Poker Challenge, traditionally one of the biggest draws on the WSOP Circuit calendar, only managed to pull in a hugely disappointing 156 players.
The declining interest in the tour by poker players have been reflected nowhere so transparently than in the circuits falling prize monies since its inception. In 2005 a top prize of $787,000 was awarded by the WSOPC, in 2006 that figure had fallen to $755,000, in 2007 it had dropped further still to $563,000, in 2008 the top prize was $499,000, in 2009 it was $322,000 and in 2010 the largest first prize offered had plummeted dramatically to $264,000.
Commenting on the alarming lack of interest in the WSOP Circuit, and its 11 stop tour, WSOP communications director Seth Palansky said:
“We recognize there is some work to be done to get the WSOP Circuits to the level we expect of them. We are hard at work internally and putting a lot of experienced people together to address the issues. We anticipate that the 2010-2011 season will see some dramatic changes to the WSOP Circuit.”
One of the dramatic ideas being floated around at present is the possibility of awarding an actual WSOP bracelet to winners of WSOP Circuit events, which would be a sure fire way to attract many a serious player looking to add a prestigious bracelet to their resume.
However, despite some support for the idea, many in the industry see this as being a negative move that would eventually lower the value of the WSOP brand itself and the almost fever pitch annual poker excitement it helps create.
One of the biggest proponents against the idea is the 11 times World Series of Poker Bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth. As he explains:
“I think it would be a big mistake for the WSOP because they would be diluting their brand and that is bad. You have a six-week-long event during the WSOP that everyone can’t wait to get to get to. There is pure excitement for those six weeks … It’s beautiful. They might as well give a bracelet away every day … they won’t mean anything anymore.”
As the WSOP continues its struggle to come up with a solution to their WSOP Circuit problem, one thing that is for sure is that the brand will have to make some major changes if it is to reverse its waning fortune.