The World Poker Tour Borgata Open: A Trip Down Memory Lane

world-poker-tour-borgata-open-trip-down-memory-laneThe World Poker Tour (WPT) will shortly drop its impressive anchor onto the floor of the Borgata Hotel, Casino & Spa, in Atlantic City, as it plays host to the 11th Borgata Poker Open.

Doyle Brunson once called this place, ‘the classiest place I’ve been to in Atlantic City,’ and over the years it has been the site for some of the biggest prize pools the WPT has ever dished out, as the $10k buy-in became the norm.

These days the buy-in is a modest $3.5k, but the lure of a televised final table, and all of the entertainment that Atlantic City has to offer means the $3m guarantee should be smashed.

The Main Event takes place between Sep 15-20 and it will be an unlimited rebuy, with late registration available until level six. There is also a hefty side event roster, gambling opportunites inside of your room through the use of the innovative E-Casino program and if they can settle their differences with the Canadian Transportation Agency, who knows, maybe the casino will give you a ride on their airline that isn’t really an airline at all.

The first-ever Borgata Poker Open cracked open its champagne bottles back in Season II. The tournament buy-in was $5,150, and a field of 235 entrants created a prize pool of $1,175,000. Noli Francisco, from the Philippines, taking the $470k first prize, on an incredibly difficult final table that saw David Oppenheim, Carlos Mortensen and the wonderfully named Randy Burger  – who qualified for the event through a $12 satellite and walked away with 6th and $41k – all battling it out for the first WPT Borgata Poker Open trophy.

Season III saw the buy-in increase to $10,000 and 302 players created a total prize pool of $3,020,000. A young Daniel Negreanu walked away with the title during the year of his life. Kid Poker not only captured $1,117,400 for his win, but he did so by defeating one of the toughest final tables the WPT televised cameras have ever been fortunate enough to film. Negreanu beat David Williams in heads-up action; just months after Williams had taken second in the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event for $3.5m. A certain Phil Ivey was also seated at that final table, and a few months later Negreanu would do it again when he won another seven figure score at the WPT Five Diamond Classic. Add those scores to the second and third place finishes at WPT Main Event final tables, that year, and you would see Negreanu crowned the WPT Player of the Year. He also won a WSOP bracelet and close to $4.5m in live tournament earnings – a once in a lifetime haul.

In Season IV the numbers saw a big jump as 515 players each found the $10k needed to sit down and play. The prize pool was a smidgen under $5m and close to $1.5m of that went the way of Al Ardebiltook. Kathy Liebert was third, David Singer took sixth and a certain JC Tran was the final table bubble boy finishing in seventh place.

November Niner, Mark Newhouse, will have fond memories of Season V, because he has the trophy sitting on his TV cabinet. This time the total prize pool was $5.23m as 540 players paid $10k to play, and Newhouse walked away with $1.5m after defeating Chris McCormack in heads-up action. A certain David Sklansky putting the theory of No Limit Hold’em into practice with a third place finish.

The sixth season was the biggest Borgata Poker Open to date. 560 runners paid $10k thus contributing to a total prize pool of $5.432m. Roy Winston taking $1,575,280 when he beat Heung Yoon in heads-up action; the top NBA sports bettor in the world, Haralabos Voulgaris, pinching third and a certain Mike Matusow also making the final table.

Season VII saw Vivek Rajkumar announce himself on the world stage. It was the first time the Borgata Poker Open had not seen numbers rise, and maybe that was the reason behind the decision to change tact and bring the buy-in down to $3.5k the following year? 516 runners paying $10k a piece for the last time, to just about sneak past the $5m guarantee. Rajkumar taking $1,424,500 after beating Sang Kim heads-up, with the recent WPT Legends of Poker runner-up Dan Heimiller, taking third and Mark Seif taking fifth.

Season VIII saw the buy in drop to $3.5k and that created a huge field of 1,018 runners. The total prize pool was $3,359,400 and Olivier Busquet would prove that he was so much more than an online heads-up specialist, by taking the $925,000 first prize when he beat Jeremy Brown in heads-up action. The colorful Kenny Nguyen also made the final table, finishing in sixth place.

Season IX saw the field rise once more, and this time 1,042 runners paid $3.5k to create a $3,335,442 prize pool. Dwyte Pilgrim told everyone that he was going to shock the world and he was true to that word when he collapsed in front of the TV cameras with tears streaming down his face. Pilgrim had just defeated Kianoosh Mohajeri in heads- up action to take the $733,802 first prize.

The largest-ever Borgata Poker Open, in terms of field size, was created in Season X. 1,313 runners paid $3.5k to create a total prize pool of $4,192,913, and Bobby Oboodi beat Sang Hwang heads-up to capture the $922,441 first prize.

The final installment of our trip down memory lane sees Ben Hamnett take the Season XI WPT Borgata Poker Open, after he outlasted 1,181 runners to capture the $818,847 first prize, from a total prize pool of $4,192,913. David Diaz also making that final table where he finished in sixth place.

The Season XII WPT Borgata Open Main Event will run from Sep 15-20 from the Borgata Hotel, Casino & Spa in Atlantic City.