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When one thinks about the World Series of Poker, images of Las Vegas and the Rio (or Binion’s Horseshoe for old school players) fill the mind. However, over the last few years, the WSOP has been expanding their reach outside of the United States.

First, they devised the WSOP Europe, followed by the WSOP Asia Pacific. Then the WSOP Circuit began to expand by holding events in Africa. Most recently, the WSOP Circuit expanded and began holding International Circuit events.

Currently, there are 11 International Circuit events scheduled outside of the United States. That’s in addition to the 22 events spread out across the United States. With the continued expansion internationally, one could argue that the WSOP Circuit is becoming the TRUE World Series of Poker.

You Don’t Have to Travel Across the Globe (Or Even the US) To Play

I remember the first time I played in a live event, I traveled to the WSOP Circuit in Tunica, MS. At the time, it was the closest Circuit event to my home. That was back when there were 10 to 12 events on the schedule.

Now there are 22 U.S. stops throughout the U.S. with one within a 4-hour drive. I can get to three different stops in 8 hours driving time or less. Many U.S. players can now get to a Circuit stop in just a few hours rather than having to drive or fly across the country to get to Las Vegas.

If you are an international player, you know just how tough it can be to play at the WSOP. That’s why the WSOP International Circuit is so great. With stops currently in Australia, France, Italy, Germany, Czech Republic, Morocco, Brazil and Uruguay, players don’t have to travel across the globe to get to a stop.

Events Offer Excellent Pricing Points

One thing that attracted me to the WSOP Circuit in the past is the ability to buy into a ring event for less than 1/3rd of a standard Vegas WSOP event. Of course, that was when ring events were $500.

Now they start at $365 and go up $1,675 for standard events. High Roller events are higher but still no more than around €3,300 (German High Roller). And every location offers satellites into ring events. For around $50, you can win your way into an event.

I remember my very first Circuit event. I took enough to play in three events but I ended up doing so well in satellites that I played my way into each event and wound up making a $3,000 profit after selling other seats I won.

Circuit Rings Are Prestigious and Stepping Stones to Greater Things

In the early years of the WSOP Circuit, winning a ring was nice but not really that big of a deal. As the prestige of the events grew, winning a ring has become a bigger deal and can often lead to greater things.

Ring winners become known players and the bankroll boost can help them get into larger events. Naturally, the confidence that comes from winning a ring helps spur them on to try and win bigger titles.

Pro players have also used the Circuit as a way to add to their bankrolls and their list of tournament victories. Some pros that own circuit rings include Ari Engel, Jeff Lisandro, Daniel Negreanu, Justin Bonomo, Andrew Lichtenberger, Men “The Master” Nguyen and Chris Reslock.

Don’t Worry – The Bracelet is Still King

Many view the Circuit as one of the major “minor leagues” to prepare players to take their shot at a WSOP bracelet. The WSOP Circuit uses the slogan “First the Ring – Then the Bracelet” to promote the tour.

Many circuit players and champions have gone on to win WSOP bracelets in Las Vegas. Mike Leah is a prime example of that fact. In 2014, Leah won two Circuit rings in a single day at the Bicycle Casino stop and later that year he won the High Roller Event at the WSOP Asia-Pacific for his first bracelet.

While the WSOP Circuit may provide players an inexpensive local opportunity for WSOP glory, there’s still nothing like competing for a WSOP bracelet. Circuit players only get the chance to compete for a bracelet in the Global Championship, and that field is limited.

While the Circuit may be expanding and becoming a true “World” Series of Poker, it still doesn’t match up to playing in Las Vegas for a chance to have your name included with the elites.

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James Guill

James Guill began his poker career in 2006, spending two years traveling the US tournament circuit. Since 2008, he has covered the game extensively for some of the biggest names in the industry. When not writing about the latest poker news, he can be found hunting for antique treasures in Central Virginia.