WSOP Circuit at Grand Casino Tunica - Day 1
Aug 11, 2005  
by Jason Kirk  

Today is the official kick-off of the first WSOP Circuit event ever to come to Tunica, and the Grand Casino is filled with poker players from all over the South and Midwest looking to win big money. On the schedule today is the $300+40 No-Limit Hold'em freezeout event. The official word is that the Grand can handle 700 players for the event. Players will receive 1500 tournament chips at the start, and the blinds begin at 25/25. The blinds will rise to 25/50 after 50 minutes, and then double after another 50. It's doubtful many people will be knocked out within the first few levels, but those who do make an exit will be replaced by one of the many alternates expected to sign up for a chance at the money.

The unofficial beginning of the Tunica Circuit came yesterday, when single-table satellites and rebuy super satellites for the Main Event began. Early in the day the action was slow, with less than half of the satellite area filled by players looking to get into today's tournament for a discount, but the room filled up as the day grew longer. After 6 PM all the tables were constantly full, as more local players began to arrive after the end of the workday. As soon as one table had declared a winner and paid him his prize - either a $300 voucher for entry into the first event or $500 tournament chips, depending on the buy-in - ten more players would be snatched out of the line to start another. The staff did a great job of keeping things running smoothly, considering that this event was planned only recently. Most of the dealers ran their tables very well, too, which is to their credit as professionals because most of them weren't receiving very much in the way of tips. These are people who have come in from all over the country to deal the Circuit for over two weeks. Their lodging is being provided - unlike at the WSOP this year - but otherwise they're making very little. Unless, that is, a winning player decides to throw a little something their way. A word of advice for all players: if your dealer does a good job, make sure to leave him or her a tip.

A strange thing happened with the satellites as the day progressed - the number of starting chips for players in the $45 tournaments went down. Early on in the day, these players were receiving 800 tournament chips. In the evening, however, they were given only 500 tournament chips, turning these low buy-in satellites into crapshoots worse than many online freerolls. The oddest thing about this is that the officially published tournament information sheet said players in these satellites were supposed to begin with a mere 300 tournament chips. The evening floor management didn't give any satisfactory answers as to why any of these differences occurred. Their responses ranged from anywhere from the dealers making mistakes to the players being lucky to have more chips than they were supposed to. None of the other satellites that were running - the $65 and $120 single tables - had their structures changed; the lowest limit players, those whose prizes would only be enough to enter today's $300+40 event, were the only ones at a disadvantage. Tournament Director Johnny Grooms had already left the premises for the day, so a clear answer on this issue will have to wait. Players hoping to win their way into the smaller tournaments would do well to check on the structure of every satellite tournament they enter - with the floor staff, the other players, and the dealers. Multiple sources of information never hurt anyone!

Even with these snags, it's safe to say the satellite tournaments were a big hit. The room was still packed at midnight last night, and the sound of chips clicking together drowned out the bells and whistles from the slot machines at the top of the escalators. With approximately 30-40 tables running satellites around the clock, and prizes varying depending on the buy-in of the satellite, it's hard to say exactly how many people won seats for today's tournament or how much money was awarded. What's sure, though, is that there are a lot of poker players in Tunica having a great time. If the interest level over the next two weeks stays this high, the WSOP Circuit will be off to a great start for its 2005-06 season.

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