The WSOP Circuit event kicked off this week in Tunica, MS and it looks like I will not be making a trip down there this year. Last year, I was fortunate enough to be asked to cover the Main Event of the Circuit, but in all honesty, that is the only reason that I went.
I used to enjoy going to Tunica. In fact, it was the first place I ever played live poker. What I did not realize is that I was on the tail end of a trend in MS poker. For many years, the Gold Strike held the World Poker Open in January and players from around the country came out to play in the event. Then Harrah's decided that they wanted to move in on the WPT's business and they decided to go head to head with the WPT. Sadly, what resulted was that the WPT eventually pulled up shop and moved to Biloxi, and the pros followed the WPT. The attendance at the WSOP circuit has suffered as a result.
However, the WPT isn't the only reason that the WSOP Circuit has become a vastly inferior product in MS. When I went in 2006, the big selling point on the WSOP Circuit was the vast mix of games available. In the short stint that I stayed in MS that year, I played in a Stud event, a stud 8 event, a PL Holdem event, a Omaha Hi-Lo event, and a NL event. In addition to the events, I played in a boatload of satellites. Actually, that year, I made about $3,000 in satellites.
Then in 2007, the pickings were much slimmer for events. I played in an Omaha 8 event, a Limit Holdem event, some NL events, and a HORSE event, but other events were not offered or conflicted with a couple WPT events I played in. The big downside to the circuit that year were the satellites. I played all of two of them. In 2006, there was plenty of action and while you may have had to wait until the day before a mixed event to play its satellite, it was at least offered. In 2006, the only thing you could play is Holdem at the WSOP circuit. Somehow, they did not get approval to run anything else. As a result, many of us said screw it and played at the WPT.
Last year, the WSOP decided to make the non-Holdem events non-ring events. Basically, if you want a WSOP Circuit ring, you better play Holdem, and NL Holdem at that. That instantly killed any interest in the circuit last year and then this year, the same policy is in place.
With that said, I do like the setup that Harrah's Tunica has for their event. They converted the theatre into a tournament area, complete with final table stage. However, many of the regular pros have moved on to Biloxi or elsewhere. You might have some locals, and some lower tier pros like Allen Kessler show up, but otherwise, it will mostly become amateur hour.
Tunica used to be a great stop where you could test yourself against stiff competition. Now, you would be better suited to skip the WSOP Circuit in that area and take on an event elsewhere in my opinion.