Tuesday, November 26, 2013

WSOP Europe and WSOP Asia Pacific To Alternate Years

The World Series of Poker yesterday announced a change of plans regarding the WSOP Europe and WSOP Asia Pacific events, or at least a move away from the pattern of offering both series on an annual basis.

As you’ve probably heard, both the WSOPE and WSOP APAC will henceforth be staged on an every-other-year basis, alternating back and forth. Thus the WSOPE will be taking a year off in 2014, with the WSOP APAC happening in October of next year (and featuring 10 bracelet events). Then the WSOPE will return in 2015 with the WSOP APAC stepping aside. No word at the moment on how many events will be included at the 2015 WSOPE or when (or where) it will be held.

Numbers at the 2013 WSOPE last month weren’t stellar, with some small fields and the Main Event slipping from 420 entrants to 375, kind of settling back toward where the ME field sizes began at the WSOPE when it began when 362 entered in both 2007 and 2008. The 2013 WSOP APAC in Melbourne (the first year of the series) also featured some events with small turnouts, although a healthy 405 entered the Main.

There was some talk earlier in the year that having the WSOP APAC (in April) come so close on the heels of the Aussie Millions (in January) might have affected turnouts somewhat as some players chose one over the other, with most choosing the Aussie Millions. Having the WSOP APAC in October again puts it within three months of the Aussie Millions (in January), although this time the WSOP series will come first.

Some immediately began talking again about the whole WSOP Player of the Year debate in response to the announcement, an issue of importance only to a very small percentage of players, though nonetheless one that gets an inordinate amount of attention from forum posters and media folks.

The news made me think back to what WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart said back in May 2012 when the WSOP APAC was first announced, in particular the suggestion of a “goal... to establish the worldwide grand slam of poker.”

That thought seemed to suggest further expansion, with perhaps a fourth location for a WSOP series in the works and a global schedule rivaling other “grand slams” such as the one in tennis with its four “majors” in Australia (the Australian Open), France (the French Open), England (Wimbledon), and the U.S. (the U.S. Open).

Such could still happen, although this week’s announcement suggests if it does it will be later than sooner. Responding to comments on his Twitter feed yesterday, Stewart noted how the WSOP “never desired to be a tour,” but was committed to the idea of the World Series of Poker reflecting how poker is indeed a “Worldwide game.”

Will be interesting to see over the next few years how the WSOP continues to fare as far as bracelet events outside of the U.S. are concerned.

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