Posts Tagged ‘Borgata’

Eric Afriat Earns Second WPT Title in Coming from Short Stack to Win WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open

 Eric Afriat Earns Second WPT Title in Coming from Short Stack to Win WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open

Defying the odds by coming off the short stack, Eric Afriat earned his second World Poker Tour championship on Friday by winning the WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open in Atlantic City.

To say (and don’t groan) the deck was stacked against Afriat would be an understatement. He scraped into the final table with a 2.28 million chip stack and needed a telescope to see chip leader Zach Gruneberg and his 17.6 mountain of chips. There were also other obstacles for Afriat, including former World Champion Joseph McKeehen (5.955 million), Justin Zaki (5.565 million), Stephen Song (2.74 million) and local favorite Michael Marder (3.08 million), that he would have to overcome.

Things would get worse for Afriat from the start. After picking up some chips, he turned around and doubled up Marder to make his task more difficult. Afriat would rectify that by taking down Song in sixth place after flopping a boat against Song’s flush draw that didn’t come home. Afriat continued to be active on the felt as his chip stack fluctuated wildly as he tried to work his magic.

It would take more than 40 hands before the next elimination would occur and, when it did happen, the rich would only get richer in a stunner of a hand. After Gruneberg raised from the cutoff, Marder would call from the big blind to see an 8♣ 8♠ 6♣ flop. Marder would check-call another 300K out of the chip leader and, after a 5♠ on the turn, both players checked the straight possibilities. When the 9♣ came on the river, the fireworks would go off.

After checking the action on the previous two streets, Marder would suddenly wake up with a big 425K bet of his own. Gruneberg, however, was undaunted and moved all in over the top of Marder’s bet. Marder took a moment to ponder the situation, chucking a Time Bank chip into the hand, before making the call and showing his K♣ 3♣ for a King-high flush. That wasn’t good enough, however; Gruneberg turned up a 10♣ 7♣ for the stone nuts, the ten-high straight flush, to take down the hand and send Marder to the rail in fifth place.

At this point in the tournament, Gruneberg had nearly a 2:1 lead over McKeehen, more than a 2:1 lead over Afriat and a 2.5:1 lead over Zaki. It was going to be interesting to see who would come from the three pursuers to challenge Gruneberg, with any of the trio with enough experience to pull off a massive comeback. It almost turned out otherwise, however, as Gruneberg’ s “run good” continued.

On Hand 72, Gruneberg raised under the gun to 450K and McKeehen dropped his stack in the center from the button. Once again, Gruneberg wasted no time in making the call, tabling Big Slick to go up against McKeehen’s A-J (approximately a 70/30 edge). The Queen-high board never came close to giving McKeehen any options on winning the hand and, as he departed in fourth place, Gruneberg stacked up an even 20 million chips, more than his other two competitors had together.

That, however, would be the apex of Gruneberg’s final table. Over the next 20 hands, that 20 million in chips became 16 million as Afriat began to climb the standings. Just as quickly, however, Afriat would get knocked back as Zaki began to move up the ladder. On Hand 121, the tournament’s tide changed as Gruneberg’s mojo began to run out.

After raising the pot off the small blind, Afriat saw Gruneberg call his 525K bet and the resulting ragged rainbow 9-5-3 flop. As he had done the entire tournament, Afriat continued his aggressive play in firing another half-million pot bet, which Gruneberg called. On a turn four, another 750K came out of Afriat and, once again, Gruneberg called. The river seven put many straight options on the table, but Afriat continued to fire with a two million chip bet. Gruneberg, after a moment of pause, didn’t believe Afriat and called. He would then muck his cards as Afriat showed pocket sixes for a runner-runner straight as Afriat scooped the 7.6 million chip pot.

A few hands later, it was over for Gruneberg. Whether a slight bit tilted from the Afriat hand or what, Gruneberg pushed all in over a Zaki raised that Zaki wanted to see. Zaki’s pocket tens were ahead of Gruneberg’s A-9 off suit and the Jack-high flop didn’t do anything to improve Gruneberg. After riding high for most of the tournament, in the span of four hands Gruneberg was out in third place as heads up play was set.

After eliminating Gruneberg, Zaki was nearly a 2:1 leader (24.4 million) over Afriat (12.925 million). For almost 100 hands, Zaki maintained his lead but couldn’t lengthen it out. When the penultimate hand – the hand that truly determined the champion – came down, it brought the drama.

 On Hand 224, Afriat made it two million to go and Zaki moved all in. Afriat immediately called and tabled his Big Slick, which dominated Zaki’s K-8 off suit. That domination held through the 7-3-2-9-K board as the 34.8 million chip pot was pushed to Afriat. With only scraps left from that clash – 2.5 million – Zaki would succumb to Afriat on the very next hand, his 10-5 off suit falling to Afriat’s K-2 after Afriat miraculously went runner-runner in rivering trip deuces to beat Zaki’s flopped pair of fives.

1. Eric Afriat, $ 651,928
2. Justin Zaki, $ 434,614
3. Zach Gruneberg, $ 321,533
4. Joe McKeehen, $ 240,251
5. Michael Marder, $ 181,329
6. Stephen Song, $ 138,254

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2018 WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open Main Event Day 2 – A.J. Kelsall Leads on the Bubble

 2018 WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open Main Event Day 2 – A.J. Kelsall Leads on the Bubble

There were probably a whole bunch of players at the World Poker Tour (WPT) Borgata Winter Poker Open that didn’t sleep well last night, as 159 players remain in the Main Event with the payouts going down to 156 places. The short stacks have got to be wondering if they can hang on to at least come up with the $ 6,129 min cash. A.J. Kelsall is the chip leader heading into Day 3 with 768,500 chips, followed very closely by Chun Li with 755,000.

The tournament just missed out on beating last year’s record of 1,312 entries, coming in at 1,244. There were 343 entries on Day 1A, 680 on Day 1B, and another 221 through the first two levels of Day 2. The overall prize pool is just south of $ 4 million with the winner taking home $ 651,928.

The chip leader, A.J. Kelsall, is having a hell of a week. Not only is he leading a WPT Main Event on the money bubble, but he is also a die hard Philadelphia Eagles fan; in just a few days, the Eagles will be playing in the Super Bowl against the New England Patriots. The Eagles are underdogs, but they were underdogs in the NFC Championship game with their backup quarterback, as well, so how knows what can happen?

After Day 2, Kelsall talked Eagles with WPT.com:

I’ll tell you the saying that I have and it’s kind of funny. There’s only two things I want in life. An Eagles Super Bowl and a WSOP bracelet. Then whatever happens after that is fine. Somebody asked me that last week, when I came fifth in the [WPTDeepStacks] event down in Hollywood. And in that one, I said I would probably give up the win for the Super Bowl, but this one is so big. I flew up here and went to the game last Sunday and I have a flight Saturday night to go to the Super Bowl. That should tell you how big of a fan I am. If you sign me up for like sixth right now and an Eagles Super Bowl, I’ll take it. I’ll sign it.

Sixth pays $ 138,254, which would certainly buy a few hot dogs at the game (not that Kelsall will get up to go to the concession stand and risk missing any of the action).

According to TheHendonMob.com, Kelsall has just over a million dollars in live tournament cashes. His best was for $ 124,731 for a first place finish in the $ 1,650 No-Limit Hold’em Championship of the Winter Poker Open in Tampa. Hmm…Winter Poker Open…is that an omen? Hmm?

Kelsall told WPT.com that while he considers himself a good No-Limit Hold’em player, he likes other games better, but he continues to play Hold’em because the money is best in that game. A “jack of all trades” is what he calls himself.

“It’s cliche, but I think it’s true. I consider myself a B or a B+ in pretty much every game. An A in nothing, but I consider myself decent in every game,” he said.

Well, so far, so good with Hold’em. Let’s see if he keeps it going and gives himself an epic weekend.

2018 World Poker Tour Borgata Winter Poker Open Main Event – Day 2 Chip Leaders

1. A.J. Kelsall – 768,500
2. Chun Li – 755,000
3. Dan Colpoys – 590,500
4. Richard Foster – 587,000
5. Chase Bianchi – 568,000
6. Joe McKeehen – 548,000
7. Nick Jivkov – 529,500
8. Sean Remz – 512,000
9. Will Givens – 510,000
10. Stephen Song – 509,000

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2018 WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open Day 4: Final Table Determined, Zach Gruneberg Holds Massive Lead

 2018 WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open Day 4: Final Table Determined, Zach Gruneberg Holds Massive Lead

Dominating play once it reached the unofficial final table, Zach Gruneberg will hold a dominant lead when the final six players meet this afternoon to determine the champion of the 2018 World Poker Tour Borgata Winter Poker Open in Atlantic City.

Day 4 action began on Thursday with 27 hopefuls remaining in the chase for the championship. Steven Greenberg was the dominant player through the Day 3 festivities and his 3.753 million chip stack showed it. But it wasn’t a runaway for Greenberg, however, as Chase Bianchi was on his heels with a 3.698 million chip stack. In addition to these two men, four former WPT champions were still in the mix, with Champions’ Club members David Paredes, Eric Afriat, Jonathan Little and Kevin Saul all with viable stacks.

The exits to the tournament arena at the Borgata needed to be a revolving door for as fast as the players departed the tournament on Thursday. In less than an hour, two players were out the door. Within the first two levels of play, the field was down to 17 players as notables such as Little and Shankar Pillai found their ways to the rail. As this was going on, Greenberg was still in good shape but had given up the chip lead to Stephen Song as the field tightened up.

After Casey Yontz was bounced out in 17th place following the second break of the day, the field was redrawn for two tables. Greenberg and Song ended up on the same table as former World Champion Joseph McKeehen and Kane Kalas, while Saul, Paredes and Afriat had to deal with Gruneberg and Bianchi. With the field bunched together, it was still a battle to see who would make the final table.

Although Gruneberg would make a slight misstep after the redraw in doubling up Saul, that would be the last mistake he would make for the night. With 1.7 million in chips, Gruneberg first picked up a double up from Bianchi to crack the three million chip mark. He would eclipse the four million chip mark in eliminating Adam Hendrix in 12th place, his A-K hitting the world against Hendrix’s K-10 on an unbelievable A-K-10 flop. Even after the unofficial final table was determined with the elimination of Daniel Aharoni in 10th place (by Song), Gruneberg kept his arrow pointing upwards.

Within the first 20 hands of final table action, Gruneberg had cracked the seven million mark in chips and had taken over the chip lead. That lead expanded when Gruneberg eliminated Day 3 chip leader Greenberg, his A-K playing where Greenberg’s A-8 didn’t on a 10-4-4-A-2 board, in ninth place. Now on 10 million-plus chips, Greenberg began to play a bullying “power poker” style that left everyone breathless in his wake.

Then there was the battle that truly pushed Gruneberg firmly to the fore. Gruneberg raised preflop and McKeehen called, but Song wanted to enrich the pot. He three bet the action to 675K and, after both Gruneberg and McKeehen called, saw a Q-Q-10-3 flop and turn. On that turn trey, Song bet out 850K and only Gruneberg came along to see a river nine complete the board. With a myriad of options on the table, Song fired again, this time for 1.4 million, but he was unable to shake Gruneberg, who immediately called. All Song could show was Big Slick for a missed straight draw, while Gruneberg showed pocket Jacks to take the more than six million chip pot with two pair. That pot pushed Gruneberg over 14 million chips and left the field chasing him.

Although he would give some back to Zaki in doubling him up, Gruneberg continued to storm through the remainder of the field. Gruneberg worked over the 16 million mark when down to the television table bubble and, after McKeehen eliminated Bianchi to set that television table, was over 17 million to have almost half the chips in play:

1. Zach Gruneberg, 17.6 million
2. Joseph McKeehen, 5.955 million
3. Justin Zaki, 5.565 million
4. Michael Marder, 3.08 million
5. Stephen Song, 2.74 million
6. Eric Afriat, 2.28 million

From all appearance, this is Gruneberg’s tournament to lose. Any one of the other five men will have a tough road to hoe in knocking out such tough pros as McKeehen, Zaki, Song or Afriat, and Marder didn’t get to his position because of his charm. Gruneberg, meanwhile, can either sit back and wait for someone to rise to his level or use the power of the big stack to crush his opposition. What approach he takes – and it will be seen from the start of final table play – will have a huge amount to do with how the final table plays out.

The final table will resume at 2PM (Eastern Time) and will be streamed as a part of PokerGO’s programming. It will NOT be taped for broadcast during the Season XVI schedule on Fox Sports. The eventual champion of the tournament will walk off with a $ 651,928 payday and their seat in this year’s WPT Tournament of Champions.

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2018 WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open Main Event Day 3: Final Three Tables Remain, Steven Greenberg Holds Lead

 2018 WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open Main Event Day 3: Final Three Tables Remain, Steven Greenberg Holds Lead

The 2018 World Poker Tour Borgata Winter Poker Open Main Event steamed onward on Wednesday, with the final three tables being determined and Steven Greenberg taking over the chip lead with a 3.753 million chip stack.

Day 3 of the tournament saw 159 players returning to the tables at the Borgata in Atlantic City, NJ, but there was an ominous tone to the proceedings. With 156 players getting paid in the tournament, that meant that three people that came back to the Borgata on Wednesday would be departing quickly and with nothing to show for their efforts. The cards hit the air just after noon on Wednesday to take on this challenge and nobody wanted to be one of those who would depart on the bubble of the cash.

The first two eliminations came within 10 minutes of the opening bell, bringing the tournament to the stone money bubble with 157 players remaining. On the fifth hand of hand-for-hand play, not one but two players were knocked out to split the 156th place money. First, Jonas Wexler went all in with a K-Q, but chip leader A. J. Kelsall looked him up with pocket fives, flopped a set and rivered an unnecessary boat to take him out. Simultaneously, Konstantinos Koufalis got the last of his chips in on an A K 5 4 flop and turn against Erick But. Koufalis’ K♣ Q had a few hopes against But’s A J (the other two Kings, any heart), but the river 7♦ ended those hopes. Although both were eliminated on the bubble, Wexler and Koufalis did get a small return on their time through earning $ 3064.50 each for their finish in a tie for 156th place.

Once the money bubble popped, there was the usual “short stack rush” from the players who were just hanging on in the tournament to make the money. Micah Raskin, Esther Taylor, John Roveto, Keven Stammen, Cornel Cimpan, Ray Quartomy, Ryan D’Angelo, and Richard Seymour all picked up some cash for their efforts and, after a few hours, new contenders would emerge for the championship. In one case, that contender was almost out of the tournament before hitting a huge rush to race to the end of the night.

With a flop and turn of 6 5♣ 3♣ J and facing a 55K bet from his opponent (into a 70K pot), Steven Greenberg pondered the situation extensively before moving the remainder of his stack (265K) into the center. Greenberg’s opponent, Richard Foster, himself took a moment before making the call and turning up his 9♣ 4♣ for the baby flush draw. Greenberg had the goods with his 6 5 (two pair), but he had to also feel some trepidation with the possibility of nine clubs ending his tournament. The river was a black card, but it was the K♠, giving Greenberg the double up to 600K and starting him on a hot streak.

Greenberg didn’t waste those newfound chips. He more than doubled that stack (to 1.285 million) by the time the dinner break rolled around, putting him in the Top Ten in the tournament. After the sustenance, Greenberg came back to the felt to take down former WPT champion Mike Linster in a classic race, Greenberg’s pocket Queens standing against Linster’s Big Slick, to crack the two million chip mark. Although he would double up a tough customer in Eric Afriat to fall off that perch, Greenberg didn’t take his foot off the gas. As the tournament day inched towards its conclusion, Greenberg had not only recovered those chips he gave to Afriat but also added to the stack, going over four million chips in eliminating Collin Whyte in 31st place late in the evening.

On the last hand of the night, Joseph Giulino pushed out his last 326K in chips, the classic “double up or don’t come back tomorrow” move, and he was looked up by Adam Hendrix. Giulino’s pocket fives were ahead of Hendrix’s A-Q through the flop, but a Queen on the turn flipped the fortunes. When the river wasn’t a five, Giulino was out of the tournament in 28th place, setting the stage for the final three tables today.

1. Steven Greenberg, 3.753 million
2. Chase Bianchi, 3.698 million
3. Stephen Song, 2.613 million
4. Raghuram Jonnalagedda, 2.503 million
5. Kane Kalas, 2.281 million
6. Daniel Aharoni, 1.994 million
7. Damjan Radanov, 1.974 million
8. David Paredes, 1.5 million
9. Spencer Champlin, 1.33 million
10. Ioannis Patsourakis, 1.309 million

Bubbling under the Top Ten are former World Champion Joseph McKeehen, (1.185 million), Afriat (1.123 million), Jonathan Little (1.1 million) and Kevin Saul (940,000). They are still in it, but Casey Yontz (495,000) and Amnon Filippi (484,000) have some work to do if they are to drive much further.

It looks as though it will be a long day on the Jersey Shore. The plans are to play from the final 27 players at noon down to the WPT final table of six. Once this is achieved, the survivors will come back on Friday with the championship hanging in the lurch, along with the $ 651,928 that the eventual champion will take home.

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2018 WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open Opening Flights in the Books

 2018 WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open Opening Flights in the Books

The two starting flights of the World Poker Tour (WPT) Borgata Winter Poker Open Main Event have come and gone and tournament organizers can breathe a sigh of relief, as the tournament has eclipsed its $ 3 million guaranteed prize pool. Through Days 1A and 1B, there were 1,023 entries ($ 3,300 + $ 200), allowing the total prize pool to just break that guarantee. Re-entries are permitted through Level 10, which is just about to end as this is being written, so we’ll see if last year’s Borgata Winter Poker Open record of 1,312 can be beaten.

Leading the field into Day 2 is Shaun McBride, who amassed 224,200 chips during Day 1B, easily more than Day 1A’s leader, 191,100. That’s not entirely unexpected – Day 1B had twice as many entries as did Day 1A, so there were more chips in play and therefore a better chance that the chip leader would gather a few more than his or her counterpart in the previous flight.

McBride has earned more than $ 200,000 on the live tournament circuit, sticking mainly to smaller buy-in regional events. According to his profile on TheHendonMob.com, he looks like he has become a regular on the World Series of Poker Circuit, with eight cashes in the past year or thereabouts. He had three small cashes at the 2017 WSOP in Las Vegas and cashed twice in preliminary events at the Borgata Winter Poker Open. McBride’s largest cash was one of his first: just shy of $ 100,000 for winning an event at the Deep Stack Extravaganza III in 2009.

The rest of the top of the leaderboard is largely filled with players whose names most readers wouldn’t recognize. Jonathan Little is there, as are Shankar Pillai and the seventh place finisher at the WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open that just finished, Nick Schwarmann, but that’s about it. Poker veteran Amnon Filippi, who used to be a regular in WPT events, but hadn’t played in one for quite some time until now, told WPT.com, “It’s unbelievable how many new people are playing here at Borgata. I only recognize about 10 people.”

And that’s one of the great things about poker. Anyone with a buy-in can play and who knows, maybe one the “no-names” listed below will become the next household name in the poker world.

2018 World Poker Tour Borgata Winter Poker Open Main Event – Day 1A Chip Leaders

1. Luke Blindert – 191,100
2. Ricardo Amidani – 179,200
3. Geoff Cudd – 167,600
4. Denys Shafikov – 166,500
5. Joseph Giulino – 165,100
6. Eric Panayiotou – 143,500
7. Jose Cayetano – 142,600
8. David Butkus – 140,800
9. Ken O’Donnell – 133,200
10. Thomas Reynolds – 128,800

2018 World Poker Tour Borgata Winter Poker Open Main Event – Day 1B Chip Leaders

1. Shaun McBride – 224,200
2. Nick Schwarmann – 177,700
3. Johanssy Joseph – 176,000
4. Troy Longo – 166,700
5. Raghuram Jonnalagedda – 154,400
6. Jonathan Little – 148,800
7. Almedin Imsirovic – 146,500
8. Chris Orme – 143,200
9. Christopher Thompson – 131,900
10. Shankar Pillai – 125,100

2018 World Poker Tour Borgata Winter Poker Open Main Event – Combined Day 1 Chip Leaders

1. Shaun McBride – 224,200
2. Luke Blindert – 191,100
3. Ricardo Amidani – 179,200
4. Nick Schwarmann – 177,700
5. Johanssy Joseph – 176,000
6. Geoff Cudd – 167,600
7. Troy Longo – 166,700
8. Denys Shafikov – 166,500
9. Joseph Giulino – 165,100
10. Raghuram Jonnalagedda – 154,400

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