With New Jersey’s domination of US online poker the casinos in Atlantic City, long considered the redheaded stepchild of Las Vegas, have suddenly become national news. And with their newly formed partnership with online gaming giant bwin.party, The Borgata has become one of the most important and talked about casinos in Atlantic City and therefore the US and the world.
As the operator of New Jersey’s largest online poker site and an 80-table poker room that hosts three separate World Poker Tour tournament festivals including the $25k Championship, The Borgata is certainly positioning itself as one of the hubs of the poker world.
And not just in New Jersey, which puts them in the middle of any conversation discussing the most important casino for tournament poker.
But can the Borgata usurp the title of tournament poker capital of the world from the likes of the Bellagio?
In my opinion, it hasn’t happened just yet, but I can see the winds changing, and it might not be all that long before the Borgata does trump the mega casinos in Las Vegas. So let me lay out the case for The Borgata.
The legends consider it their office…
When Rounders was released some 15 years ago we were told by Mike McDermott that the Mirage Poker Room was the “center of the poker universe… Doyle Brunson, Johnny Chan, Phil Helmuth… The legends consider it their office.”
Las Vegas has always been synonymous with poker, dating back to the Golden Nugget, the Sands, and Binions, the center of the poker universe has always been located in the Nevada desert. The name of the casino may change, but the city has always remained the same, Las Vegas.
Other areas have popped up along the way –when Rounders was made “The Taj,” The Trump Taj Mahal, was the place to be on the East Coast—but the “Home” of poker has always been Las Vegas.
Needless to say, a lot has changed over the course of 15 years. The Mirage was been replaced by The Bellagio, which has already started to give way to The Aria. And in New Jersey, The Trump Taj Mahal has acquiesced to The Borgata.
But has the Borgata usurped not only The Taj but the poker rooms of Las Vegas? In my opinion, in some ways it most certainly has; the legends may not consider it their office, but it has become the home of some “must-play” tournaments in poker, and has the most robust tournament offerings throughout the year.
The Borgata Poker Room
First of all, the Borgata Poker room is a pretty big deal. It’s a massive poker room that has simply overshadowed its competition in Atlantic City since it opened its doors.
With 80-something tables at all different stakes it’s a bustling, thriving piece of poker real estate in an area that is not really known for being a poker hotspot.
The Borgata may not have the high stakes cash games of Macau or Las Vegas, you’re not exactly likely to run into the game’s best players at the Borgata, but when it comes to your average every day poker games and players you will not find a better collection of sharks, high-rollers, grinders, and fish for your Petrie dish than at the Borgata cash game tables.
Additionally, we haven’t seen how beneficial online poker can be for the Borgata, or vice versa. As we’ve seen in the past, the onset of online poker could lead to more pros, and higher stakes games.
I suspect we’ll also start seeing an influx of online players heading to the Borgata for the first time; perhaps cashing in some of their online rewards for live rewards, or simply because now that they have gotten their feet wet playing online, they feel comfortably mixing it up at the live poker tables.
Borgata’s bread & butter: Tournament festivals
But the real reason the Borgata is taking over from the Bellagio et al. is their tournaments.
The Borgata’s deal with bwin.party goes far beyond online gambling; the deal has also turned the Borgata into the showcase of the bwin.party World Poker Tour, with the casino hosting three of the WPT’s most prominent tournaments, the WPT Borgata Poker Open, the WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open, and the $25k WPT Championship.
Even before their partnership with bwin.party and World Poker Tour, The Borgata played host to multiple major tournament series, and their tournaments are considered some of the best run in poker, a tip of the hat to tournament director Tab Duchateau and his staff.
Borgata tournaments are known for their big fields, evidenced by the consistent 1,000+ player fields their $3,500 WPT tournaments pull in, but soon they will also be known for their big-buy-in events, as the $25k WPT Championship and the $100k Super-High-Roller that is part of the festival will be coming to town.
The 2014 WPT Championship, the first that will not be held at the Bellagio, is easily the most anticipated in years.
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