Comparing Mid-Major Poker Tours Part 1: WPT Deepstacks And WSOP Circuit

October 19, 2017
Comparing Mid-Major Poker Tours Part 1: WPT Deepstacks And  WSOP Circuit


The main pulse of the poker scene in America exists on its coasts and in Las Vegas, Nevada. However, there are several golden opportunities for players with smaller bankrolls across the country with the Mid-Major poker tours like the WPT Deepstacks, WSOP Circuit, Heartland Poker Tour, and the Mid-States Poker Tour.

We’re going to break down all the big options for people who don’t live near the major gambling centers (Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and Los Angeles). Although each tour stop has several side tournaments, we’ll be focusing on the main mid-major events from each tour.

Part 1 will focus on the two larger tours, World Series of Poker Circuit and WPT Deepstacks. Part 2 will conclude with the Heartland Poker Tour and the Mid-States Poker Tour.

Here are our rankings for the best four events outside of the gambling meccas of America, and don’t worry we’ll dive into the “why” as we progress.

Rank Tournament Name Tour Location Date
1 WPT Deepstacks Championship WPT Deepstacks Lincoln, CA December 2, 2017
2 Harrah’s New Orleans WSOP Circuit New Orleans, LA May 11, 2018
3 HPT Championship Heartland Poker Tour St. Charles, MO December 8, 2017
4 Meskwaki Casino Mid-States Poker Tour Tama, IA November 3, 2017

World Poker Tour Deepstacks

Aside from the World Series of Poker, the World Poker Tour is the most famous outlet for poker in the world. Its tournaments and subsequent championships are second only to the main event of the WSOP.

Their smaller, mid-major tournament series takes its name from the preponderance of chips afforded to players at the beginning of the session. Players begin with 25,000 in tournament chips and have 40-minute blind levels to push the action.

Both the WPT main tour and the Deepstacks series take players around the world. A WPT win is instant credibility and prestige for any poker aficionado or professional.

The Best: WPT Deepstacks Championship – Thunder Valley Casino Resort – Lincoln, CA

In contrast to previous tournaments, the WPT Deepstacks Championship is a $2300 + $200 event – far above the typical $1100 buy-in. The action will begin December 2 at Thunder Valley Casino Resort in Lincoln, California.

This tournament gets the nod for the best of the WPT Deepstacks due to its buy-in and guarantee. The buy-in is larger, but there is also a million-dollar guaranteed prize pool, making it a top-value event.

As far as the field strength goes, it’s somewhat difficult to predict. Simply due to the tournament’s lack of history, we cannot be sure as to the caliber of player.

It’s too good a tournament to pass up

However, since this tournament has such a rich prize and larger buy-in, it seems more likely to draw a more serious field. The fact that it’s in California makes it an easier possibility for sharks from Nevada and California to find their way to the registration table.

This tournament is also a great option because of its low rake. Only eight percent of the buy-in will go toward the house, better than almost any tournament available.

So, even with some of the obvious issues – coastal location and potentially stronger field – this tournament is still the class of the WPT Deepstacks. Players who can make this tournament should do so.

Other Upcoming WPT Deepstacks Locations

Tournament/Casino Name Location Date
Riverside Casino and Golf Resort Riverside, IA October 20, 2017
Ocean’s Eleven San Diego, CA October 26, 2017

World Series of Poker Circuit

The World Series of Poker is the most recognizable and biggest poker series in all of poker. Its Main Event is the most famous poker tournament in the world, and the winner of that event each year is usually referred to as the “world champion” of poker.

In 2005, WSOP debuted the Circuit tour to build towards the annual series in June. Since then, the circuit has garnered plenty of prestige on its own. The ring given to Circuit champions is a well-known counterpoint to the iconic Series bracelet.

The main event for all the Circuit events is basically the same set-up, no matter the location. The buy-ins are always the same, the guarantees are either $500,000 or $1,000,000, and the structures are the same.

So, the best of these tournaments will come from the other aspects of the tournament setting.

Plus if you’re in New Jersey or Nevada you keep an eye out for online qualifiers on NJ and NV

The Best: Harrah’s New Orleans – New Orleans, LA

Harrah’s New Orleans gets the nod for its location and timing.

First of all, the casino itself is located at the foot of Canal Street, the main drag in downtown New Orleans. It is right next to the French Quarter, which means that great restaurants, hotels, and other activities are within walking distance.

Also, this stop is the last on the tour before the Series in Vegas. So, there will be plenty of excitement, and players can rightfully use this event as a tune-up for the big time in Las Vegas.

This event is a $1675 buy-in affair. $1500 of the buy-in will go to the prize pool, which was over $1.1 million in last year’s tournament.

As far as the pool for this year, tournament officials have yet to announce its guarantee. However, given last year’s turnout, a million-dollar promise would not be surprising.

The $175 of rake on this tournament is a bit steep, to be sure. At 11.67%, WSOP is pulling more money off the table than most tournaments would.

It’s the WSOP, and it knows it

The X-factor behind this rake situation is the prestige and name recognition of the WSOP. At the end of the day, players won’t mind paying a few extra dollars to wear a WSOP-branded piece of jewelry or having a story to tell about playing with the big boys.

As with the rest of the main events on the Circuit, players will begin with 20,000 in tournament chips. Blind levels will start at 40 minutes but increase to 60 minutes later in the tournament.

Last year’s field was 758 players, generated from two Day 1 flights. The winner, Jason Baldridge, is a recreational player from San Antonio and he took home just over $227k for his efforts.

Many of the final table players cashed in the WSOP for the first time. As such, this tournament’s field might be ripe for a deep run by the experienced player.

The action for the preliminary events will begin May 10, 2018. The tour stop will conclude eleven days later, on May 21. The main event’s flights will most likely run on the 18th or 19th.

Other Upcoming WSOP Circuit Locations

Tournament/Casino Name Location Date
Harvey’s Lake Tahoe Stateline, NV October 26 – November 6, 2017
Choctaw Durant Durant, OK November 1 – November 13, 2017
Planet Hollywood Las Vegas, NV November 9 – November 20, 2017
Harrah’s Cherokee Cherokee, NC November 23 – December 4, 2017
The Bicycle Casino Los Angeles, CA December 1 – December 12, 2017
Choctaw Durant Durant, OK January 3 – January 15, 2018
Thunder Valley Lincoln, CA January 11 – January 22, 2018
Horseshoe Tunica Tunica, MS January 18 – January 29, 2018
Potawatomi Milwaukee, WI February 1 – February 12, 2018
Seminole Casino Coconut Creek Coconut Creek, FL February 8 – February 19, 2018
Rio Las Vegas Las Vegas, NV February 16 – February 27, 2018
The Bicycle Casino Los Angeles, CA March 3 – March 14, 2018
Harrah’s Atlantic City Atlantic City, NJ March 8 – March 19, 2018
Hard Rock Tulsa, OK March 15 – March 26, 2018
Planet Hollywood Las Vegas, NV March 22 – April 2, 2018
Horseshoe Council Bluffs Council Bluffs, IA March 29 – April 9, 2018
Harrah’s Cherokee Cherokee, NC April 12 – April 23, 2018
Horseshoe Baltimore Baltimore, MD April 26 – May 7, 2018

As you can see playing poker in the U.S. is not left to only those in Vegas or Atlantic City. There are plenty of opportunities to take your shot at poker glory around the country at these great mid-major tour options.

Stay tuned next week for Part 2, where we’ll compare the Heartland Poker Tour and the Mid-States Poker Tour.

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