Borgata Summer Poker
Alternative to WSOP

June 5, 2012 -

The Borgata Summer Poker Open started on Wednesday, June 6 continuing for nearly two weeks, and will offer regional poker players an alternative to making a 2,200-mile trek to Las Vegas.

As many poker enthusiasts know, the annual World Series of Poker put the cards in the air over the Memorial Day Weekend at the Rio in Las Vegas, and its 61-event schedule will continue through mid-July. As a result, most poker rooms across the country generally wouldn’t entertain a major tournament series at this time of year

The Borgata is not most poker rooms.

“We started the Summer Open in 2006 to help introduce our new room, and from the beginning some people questioned it,” Borgata director of poker marketing Ray Stefanelli said. “But we felt that we could offer a great alternative to our regional players.”

The Borgata Summer Open is June 6-22, with the main event June 17-22. Here’s the full schedule.

“There are some players who don’t want all the expense and hassle of traveling out West,” Stefanelli continued. “Meanwhile here, we can still offer everything we do at our other four major series—great prize pools, good-sized fields, exposure on our daily blog and a trophy.”

There’s one more thing that attracts players to the Borgata for the summer tournament session.

“Clearly the fields are a little softer,” said Dan Harkenrider, a poker player and radio poker show host from Cleveland.

With many of the region’s accomplished players sitting around the tables at the WSOP, less experienced players have a better shot at taking down a big prize.

Just take a look at the tweets coming out of Vegas right now. Some prominent players from the Philly area and the Northeast region who frequent the Borgata poker room and dominate there—Matt Glantz, Daniel Buzgon, Jamie Kerstetter, Amanda Musumeci—are all chasing WSOP bracelets at the Rio.

“I’m not focused on bracelets,” said Harkenrider, who plans to play at the Borgata this summer. “I’m focused on my bankroll.”

Harkenrider finished 289th, for nearly $42,000 in the 2010 WSOP Main Event, but he said a trip back to the Rio later this summer depends on his performance at the Borgata.

Harkenrider contended that the Borgata offers better tournament value than WSOP events. For instance, the Borgata Summer Open main event, a no-limit hold’em re-entry, is a $2,500 buy-in with a $200 tournament fee, about a 7.4 percent vigorish. A similar-priced WSOP event, say Event No. 46, a $2,500 no-limit hold’em tournament, takes out a total of 9 percent for the entry fee and staff.

At the lower end, a non-bracelet daily deepstack at the Rio for a $235 buy-in, takes out $40 in total vig, about 17 percent. At the Borgata, a $350 trophy event adds on a $50 entry fee for a 14.2 percent vig.

Those are the little things that get noticed by cost-conscious players, such as Harkenrider.

“For my bankroll, I get more value at the Borgata,” the radio show host said. “Plus, the Borgata still has good payouts because the fields are a good size.”

This year, the Borgata will try to keep the field sizes elevated with nearly $900,000 in prize pool guarantees, including $500,000 for the main event. And the Borgata will entice players with a range of non-hold’em trophy tournaments, such as Omaha, H.O.R.S.E and stud, plus some bounties and a survivor event. Plus, among non-trophy events, there’ll be bounties, survivors and an especially interesting all-in or fold tournament. Read more about those here.

And for some players, Atlantic City has certain charms that Vegas just can’t match.

“When I bust out of a Borgata tournament, at least I can go to the beach to cool off,” Harkenrider said. “At the WSOP, the only place you can go is the desert.”

Written by

Bill Ordine is a South Philadelphia native who grew up within walking distance of Pat's Steaks. A veteran news and sports journalist who was part of a Philadelphia Inquirer reporting team that was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, Bill has been writing about local casinos since the days when folks lined up on the Boardwalk to get into Atlantic City's first gambling hall. He has covered virtually every major sports team in Philadelphia and was the Inquirer's Eagles beat writer during the Buddy Ryan era. Since 2004, Bill has reported on the World Series of Poker for newspapers such as the Los Angeles Times and the Baltimore Sun and holds the distinction of having reached the final table of the prestigious WSOP media tournament the only time he entered. (To preserve his sterling record, he has refrained from playing since.) When he isn't writing and editing for, Bill follows the casino industry in a syndicated travel column.

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