The Borgata broke its own casino record for tournament entrants when 1,873 players signed up for the first event of the Winter Poker Open on Wednesday, a $560 total buy-in deep stack no limit hold’em re-entry event. The previous house record was 1,717 players for the first event of the Borgata Poker Open in September, a $450 total buy-in.
Perhaps a fairer comparison would be the No. 1 event of last year’s Borgata Winter Poker Open, which also was a total $560 buy-in. For that 2011 Winter opener, there were 1,472 runners. This year’s turnout is more than a 27 percent increase.
The Borgata Winter Poker Open features 28 events and will continue through Feb. 3, with the $3,500 championship scheduled for Jan.29-Feb. 3.
The 2012 prize pool for the record-breaking event No. 1 is more than $936,000 with first place good for about $165,000. About 10 percent of the field will get paid with a minimum cash of $1,045.
It was anticipated that a champion would be crowned sometime early Friday morning.
This year’s payout structure represents a change for the Borgata. Previously, the payouts were limited to the top 120, regardless of how large the field. The flatter payoff schedule is a reflection of what players had requested, said poker marketing head Ray Stefanelli.
“The big thing is the brand we’ve created and the expectations,” Stefanelli said explaining the record-setting field. “We listen to our customers and provide them with what they want, and they come out to support us.”
Making the first-day attendance even more impressive is that the crowded poker calendar, in the Greater Philadelphia area as well as nationally and internationally, would seem to strain the supply of tournament players.
“It’s a testament to the great players on the East Coast,” Stefanelli said, “and that we provide an environment that accommodating to the poker players.”