WSOP 2016: Vamos! The World Series circuit heads to Brazil
In an ideal world, both Felipe Ramos and Andre Akkari would have climbed the stairs to the stage in the Brasilia Room this year to collect World Series of Poker bracelets. But for Ramos, the closest he came was ninth in the $10,000 Omaha Hi-Lo tournament, while Akkari came sixth in the $1,500 HORSE. His second bracelet will have to wait.
Despite the near misses, however, Ramos did make that climb today. The Team PokerStars Pro was invited on stage at the first break in play to make an announcement of perhaps even more significance than a bracelet presentation. It's been an open secret for a couple of days, but WSOP tournament director Jack Effel, alongside Ramos, could today spill the beans. "We just signed a deal today to bring a World Series circuit event to the great country of Brazil," Effel said.
The World Series Circuit Events have been running since 2005. Ostensibly billed as a warm-up to the WSOP every summer in Las Vegas, they have become prestigious tournaments in their own right, offering million-dollar prize pools and high six-figure winner's checks, in addition to a champion's ring.
The circuit began by snaking through Harrah's properties in the United States--New Orleans, Lake Tahoe, Atlantic City, etc.--but more recently has travelled even further afield. Montreal, Marrakech, Rozvadov and Tblisi also now host events on the international circuit, offering players in Canada, Morocco, the Czech Republic and Georgia the chance to sample the WSOP-style action.
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The move to Brazil is as close to a no-brainer as things get in this industry. Ever since the Latin America Poker Tour first brought major live poker to the world's most fifth most populated country, in May 2008, the game has undergone an incomparable surge in popularity.
That LAPT event attracted a field of 315 players to the Intercontinental Hotel in Rio de Janeiro. By the time the Brazil Series of Poker played its grand final in Sao Paolo last December, there were 3,457 players ready to play.
"No one deserves a WSOP-branded event more than Brazil does," Seth Palansky, World Series spokesman, said. "They have been tremendous supporters of the World Series of Poker for years now and bring a passionate, knowledgeable and talented base of players to the game of poker."
Ramos, the current No 1 ranked player from Brazil, welcomed the WSOP to land amid the world's biggest poker boom.
"I'm beyond happy to give the news on behalf of all the people from South America," Ramos said. "And of course all the people from all around the world, if you need a reason to come to Brazil, now you have it."
Akkari, watching his friend and countryman from his table, said: "We're really excited. It'll be great for Brazil." He wouldn't be drawn on how many players might be expected to show up, but estimated that at least 1,000 was all but guaranteed.
Neither dates nor host city are yet confirmed--the ink is only just drying on the contract--but the event is confirmed for the 2016-17 season, according to Palansky.
It then returned to Ramos to say the magic word: "Vamos!"
WSOP photos by PokerPhotoArchive.com.