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  1. The Borgatain Atlantic City has taken the initiative to beef up security in its poker tournaments by introducing brand new chips boasting several modern-day features designed to thwart counterfeiters. The purchase of the high-tech chips was reportedly the direct result of the scandal allegedly caused at least in part by Christian Lusardi, a North Carolina man who was charged with introducing fake chips into an event in January. "This was very expensive, but very necessary," Borgata Senior Vice President Joe Lupo said to the Atlantic City press. "In order to have the biggest tournaments in Atlantic City and as the market leader, we need to ensure the integrity of the games." The new tournament chips will display a more intricate design, make use of more colors, and come installed with an authentication device that can be checked under ultraviolet light. On top of that, security will now make rounds to periodically verify that the chips are genuine in a measure Lupo called "the new normal." In January, Lusardi won $6,814 in the tournament allegedly with the help of the phony chips, which he later admitted to purchasing from China and hiding in the casino's bathroom. Eventually, players realized that the chips weren't genuine and alerted Borgata's staff, who suspended the tournament and launched an investigation. Lusardi(pictured) later returned to his hotel at Harrah's Atlantic City, but sensing his scheme had been uncovered, apparently flushed the rest of his $2.8 million in bogus chips down the toilet. The move proved to be his downfall, though, as the chips clogged the hotel's drainage system, causing guests to complain about leaking pipes and leading maintenance men to find the strange source of the problem in Lusardi's room. While the North Carolina man was subsequently arrested, his actions caused a whole host of problems for Borgata and the players involved in the tournament. The event was frozen with 27 players remaining, but not after several finishers had already been paid. In February, affected players filed a class-action lawsuit against the casino alleging that Borgata had committed fraud by failing to provide adequate supervision of the tournament. They now seek to be refunded their buy-ins plus food, travel, and hotel costs. As part of the investigation by the New Jersey State Police and the Division of Gaming Enforcement, the $1.5 million in remaining prize money has been frozen and certain denominations of chips have been sequestered. In fact, the casino's need to replenish its stock was one factor that led to the purchase of the new high-tech chips. Lusardi's troubles didn't end with the tournament, either. After police raided his Fayetteville home, they found a collection of 37,500 pirated DVDs, DVD burners, and packaging equipment allegedly used to distribute the illegal material. For the tournament cheating scandal alone, Lusardi, who has already been arrested on gambling offenses in the past, has been charged with theft and rigging a public contest. He remains in custody awaiting trial while authorities continue to investigate his bootlegging activities. At Borgata, the new chips were already in play on Tuesday after being debuted during the Spring Poker Open. Along with the new chips, the casino has vowed to add more security during its poker events and conduct more chip counts each day. "Considering that we have biggest poker tournaments on the East Coast and we expect to continue to do so, it's imperative that we ensure that our customers have confidence in the integrity of the tournaments," said Lupo. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed. Photo credit Luke Edwards
  2. According to NJ.comand a variety of other outlets, the Borgatain Atlantic City has filed suit against poker pro Phil Ivey (pictured) over a $9.6 million baccarat win that occurred two years ago. The site explained, "While playing,Ivey allegedly cheated by fixating on pattern flaws on the back of the cards, a technique commonly known as 'edge sorting,' according to the lawsuit." If all of this sounds familiar, it's because it is. In 2012, the same year Borgata alleged the cheating at its casino took place, Ivey booked a £7.3 million win at Punto Banco at Crockfords in London, but that casino refused to pay out. Punto Banco, as you might know, is a variation of baccarat and, according to our original story on the matter, "The card backs were emblazoned with a diamond pattern that is normally symmetrical. The cards in the game that night, though, were allegedly miscut at the factory, producing an asymmetrical pattern, one where the diamonds on one edge were sliced in half." Read how Crockfords alleged Ivey cheated. At both Borgata and Crockfords, Ivey reportedly asked the casino to rotate cards, hold the shoe, and allegedly exploited his knowledge of the mis-cut cards. Our article pointed out, "Crockfords alleges that because of the asymmetrical card backs, the cards that were turned were easily identifiable. Ivey and his friend supposedly used that information to their advantage during later deals." Here's a graphic from the Daily Mail that shows the alleged process: Borgata has also filed suit against Kansas City-based card designer Gemaco, and "a female partner of Ivey's, Cheng Yin Sun, who allegedly gave instructions to the dealer," according to NJ.com. The Press of Atlantic City detailed that in April 2012, "Ivey contacted Borgata to arrange a high-stakes game of baccarat in which he agreed to wire a deposit of $1 million and a maximum bet at $50,000 per hand. Ivey also made special arrangements, including having a private area, or pit, a casino dealer who spoke Mandarin Chinese, one eight-deck shoe of purple Gemaco playing cards to be used for each session of the play, and an automatic card shuffling device." The same news source added, "Borgata said in the lawsuit that Ivey told them he made these requests because he was superstitious." However, each of Ivey's demands, according to Borgata, furthered his ability to "surreptitiously manipulate what he knew to be a defect." The automatic card shuffler, for example, would prevent each card from being turned and the purple Gemaco playing cards contained the critical defect. Ivey also visited Borgata in May, July, and October 2012, according to the Press. CardPlayer revealed that the Crockfords incident is still pending. Borgata officials PocketFives contacted late Friday declined to comment, instead instructing us to get in touch with the casino's legal department, which was closed for business for the weekend. It remains to be seen if Ivey would be allowed in the casino for the World Poker Tour Championship, which will emanate from Borgata later this month. Stay tuned to PocketFives for the latest. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  3. The Borgata Fall Poker Open is currently taking place in Atlantic City at the Borgata Hotel and Spa through November 21. PocketFives caught up with one of its own members and Event #4 champion, Jake jtsnakesPerry (pictured, image courtesy of Borgata blog), which was a $560 buy-in two-day event that attracted 207 entrants for a prize pool of $103,500. Visit PocketFives' New Jersey poker community for the latest news and discussion from New Jersey players. As of late, Perry has been on a tear on the live poker scene, as back in October, he finished second in the Parx Big Stax Main Event for his largest live score of $68,501, bringing him to over $100,000 in winnings in less than a month. Here were the final results of this tournament as reported by Borgata: 1. JACOB PERRY - $28,107 2. DAVID GERASSI - $16,565 3. EDGAR LEMUS-ARGUETA - $9,538 4. ROBERT CAMPION - $7,730 5. ANDREA SALAMONE - $6,024 6. PETER EADICICCO - $5,020 7. JEREMY BARNETT - $4,016 8. JOSEPH GALAZZO - $3,012 9. KEVIN CHANG - $2,008 10. TIMOTHY JOHN STONE - $1,30 PocketFives: Congrats on your win in Event #4 the Borgata Fall Poker Open for $28,207. Tell us how you are feeling and what this win means to you. Jake Perry: I was more relieved than anything. Shipping a live tournament is something that has avoided me for a long time. At the end of the day, it is just money and it is time to go back to work the next day. What it really meant to me: I should not have played the next day because I punted a decent stack because I was tired of poker from the day before. PocketFives: Back in October, you finished second in the Parx Big Stax Main Event for $68,501. Which tournament field did you feel was tougher to navigate? Jake Perry: Parx was piles tougher. If you go back to the final 40 of the Parx event, it was a sick, sick field. Looking at Borgata, I only know a couple of names of the people that cashed. Like all tournaments, though, there were different challenges. PocketFives: Do any hands from the Borgata Fall Poker Open win stick out? Jake Perry: There were a couple of big swing hands at the final table. I got in 9-9 vs A-To to double up about eight-handed, which put me just below average but was a huge confidence-builder. Seven-handed, I got another double with A-J vs A-T, which put me in the virtual chip lead. One hand sticks out from Level 4 of Day 1, actually. I got A-A and a super-agro guy did not pile in A-K for any more money. That was the second worst beat I took the whole tournament. PocketFives: Do you have any plans for the money? Jake Perry: Not really. I may take a vacation in January, but only if it does not conflict with anything I want to play. My real plan is to continue putting more money on top of that money. I would like to repeat this process as often as possible. PocketFives: What have your friends and family said about the win? Jake Perry: The standard congratulations. I have made consistent money in this game for a long time, so I can't really say anyone was shocked. PocketFives: To what do you attribute your current success in the live arena? Jake Perry: Live or online, my game has hit another level thanks to Mike Gags30Gagliano and Mike Lav519 Lavenberg. Opening things up and realizing that I am much better post-flop than I thought I was has helped and with the knowledge I have of that, I have been able to play a slightly more aggressive pre-flop style. And obviously I am going to run better with fedora magic on the rail.
  4. On Thursday, Christian Lusardi (pictured), the mastermind behind the so-called Chipgate at Borgata, was sentenced to five years in jail. According to the Associated Press, "Lusardi also must pay $463,540 in restitution to the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa for the revenue it lost when it canceled the 2014 tournament in Atlantic City and $9,455 to Harrah's Casino Hotel for damaging its plumbing." Lusardi was indicted in July. At the time, the Acting Attorney General in New Jersey said, "Lusardi's alleged scheme to play high-stakes poker with counterfeit chips played out like a Hollywood movie plot. As theatrical as this was, we cannot lose sight of the serious nature of this financial crime. By allegedly betting with phony chips, Lusardi cheated other players and cost the Borgata hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost tournament revenues." This Hollywood movie plot ended with a half-decade in jail, to be exact. According to the Associated Press, Lusardi officially pleaded guilty to trademark counterfeiting and criminal mischief. He is 43 years of age and also landed in hot water for pirating DVDs in an unrelated incident. The tournament, the opening event of the Borgata Winter Poker Open, was canceled when 27 players remained and the counterfeit chips were discovered. Lusardi had cashed in the event, but was not in the field when it was suspended. It was a $2 million guaranteed Big Stack No Limit Hold'em event. In February 2014, a class-action lawsuitspearheaded by Jacob Musterel was filed against Borgata. Two months later, almost $20,000 was paid out to each remaining playerfrom the prize pool, about what 10th place would have made had the tournament played out normally. Over 2,100 other players received their $560 buy-in back. Shortly thereafter, members of the final 27 sued. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook.
  5. Hosted by PocketFives President and Editor in Chief Lance Bradley and poker writer Matt Clark, The Fives runs each week and covers the latest poker news, preview upcoming events, and interview players and industry leaders. DOWNLOAD THIS EPISODE IN ITUNES Once again Lance Bradley and Matt Clark get together to talk about the amazingly impressive career of Adrian Mateos and the lack of American superstars under the age of 25 while discussing whether or not Bryn Kenney might just be under-appreciated after his big win in the PokerStars Championship Monte Carlo Super High Roller. They also review the Commerce Casino’s Social Experiment, the final table of the Borgata Spring Poker Open Main Event and somehow end up talking about World Star Hip Hop.
  6. Season XVII of the World Poker Tour saw the WPT head to the cold Northeast for the WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open in Atlantic City. A whopper of a field turned out for the $3,500 buy-in event, as 1,415 entries were generated to make it the largest WPT Main Tour event at Borgata and the third-largest WPT Main Tour field size of all time. When play wrapped up on Thursday night, just six players remained. Those six were led by Dave Farah and will now enjoy a 41-day before playing for the title in Las Vegas on March 13, 2019. Each of the remaining six players is guaranteed $154,734 for reaching the final table, with a first-place prize of $728,430 awaiting the eventual champion. The WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open final table will be televised as part of the WPT's broadcast schedule for Season XVII, and it’s the second final table undergoing a delay before its played out in Las Vegas. The first final table to hit a delay was the WPT Gardens Poker Championship. That event will see the final six compete on March 12, one day before the WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open final table plays out. Farah is from New Jersey and entered the Season XVII WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open with just more than $80,000 in live tournament earnings. That means this result is the largest of his live tournament career. Farah finished atop the final six with 18.85 million and was nearly 5 million ahead of Brandon Hall's second-place stack of 14.1 million. WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open Final Table Seat 1: Ian O'Hara - 5,100,000 Seat 2: Dave Farah - 18,850,000 Seat 3: Joseph Di Rosa Rojas - 5,800,000 Seat 4: Brandon Hall - 14,100,000 Seat 5: Vinicius Lima - 3,550,000 Seat 6: Daniel Buzgon - 9,100,000 How the Final Table Was Reached The Season XVII WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open began with 1,415 entries. Entering Day 2, 662 players remained, with the registration and re-entry period open for another couple of hours. When Day 2 was all said and done, 177 players remained. They were all in the money, as the top 177 places paid. Chris Tryba was eliminated on the money bubble at the hand of Dylan Gang. Tryba's pocket nines could hold up against the [poker card="As"][poker card="Kd"] of Gang thanks to an ace on the flop, sending Tryba home in 178th place. That's when Day 2 ended and it was Alex Aqel on top with 1.26 million in chips. On Day 3, WPT Champions Club members Mike Linster (74th), Brian Altman (92nd), David Paredes (134th), Victor Ramdin (152nd), Daniel Strelitz (164th), Taylor Paur (168th), and Anthony Zinno (175th) all his the rail. Aqel's run came to an end in 69th place. A little later, the last of the WPT champions fell. Matt Waxman busted in 49th, Bobby Oboodi went out in 39th, and then Olivier Busquet was bounced in 32nd. Busquet, a former WPT winner at Borgata, was the final WPT champion standing. Day 3 ended with 29 players left and Nick Schwarmann out in front. To start things off on Day 4, Ian O'Hara knocked out Taylor Wilson in 29th place. A little bit after that, Daniel Buzgon, who is currently the 13th-ranked online player in New Jersey and 19th-ranked player in the United States, took the chip lead from Schwarmann. Schwarmann stayed strong, though, and eventually busted Chase Bianchi in 22nd place. Farah knocked out A.J. Kelsall in 20th place, Buzgon sent Joseph Liberta out the door in 19th, and Hall KO'd Ariel Albilia in 18th position. Buzgon then took care of Elilton Gouveia in 17th, Vinicius Lima sent Melad Marji home in 16th, and Ping Liu was eliminated in 15th. Liu's elimination was significant because by reaching the top 15, Liu earned enough points in the Hublot WPT Player of the Year race to sit atop the leaderboard. Although tied with Tony Ruberto with 1,850 points, Liu holds the tiebreaker of most money won. After a dinner break, Raul Martinez busted in 14th and Lucas Braga went out in 13th. Braga was knocked out by Buzgon. Steven Sarmiento, who won a huge pot earlier in the day with aces over Brandon Shane's kings, the knocked out Dave Peay in 12th place. Schwarmann's run would come to an end in 11th place and Gang busted in 10th, both falling to Hall. The final nine players then joined to one table. From there, Michael Cannon went out ninth, Shane hit the rail in eighth, and Sarmiento fell in seventh. Sarmiento was busted by Farah. On that final hand of Day 4, Sarmiento was all in with pocket nines against the [poker card="Ad"][poker card="Ts"] of Farah. Sarmiento's nines held until the river, but that's when a ten appeared to knock Sarmiento out. Is the Third Time the Charm for Farah? Although this WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open final table may lack a big name such as Phil Hellmuth, who busted in 102nd place for $7,176, or a WPT Champions Club member looking to earn another title, what we can look forward to is a new name etched on the WPT Champions Cup. As mentioned, Farah is making the largest cash of his live tournament career. In fact, it's only his ninth live tournament cash ever. His previous best was a 344th-place finish in the 2016 WSOP Main Event when he took home $32,130. He does have two prior WPT Main Tour cashes on record, and both came from previous editions of the WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open. In Season XV, Farah placed 41st for $13,607. In Season XVI, he finished 75th for $8,623. As the saying goes, the third time is the charm, and Farah's third cash in the WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open could very well be the charm he is looking for, and it'd be worth $728,430. [caption id="attachment_622498" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Brandon Hall (photo: World Poker Tour)[/caption] Brandon Hall Back On the Big Stage Hall will enter the final table second in chips. If you were to stroll through the field of 1,400-plus players at Borgata, you might walk right past Hall, as he has a modest appearance that can truly blend into any tournament field. That said, Hall has been on the big stage before, evidenced by his more than $1.46 million in live tournament earnings. Hall's first big splash came in 2009 when he won the Aruba Poker Classic for $753,330, defeating Robert Mizrachi in heads-up play. A handful of years later, Hall finished runner-up in a $1,500 buy-in WSOP event for $381,885. [caption id="attachment_622499" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Daniel Buzgon (left) and Ian O'Hara (photo: World Poker Tour)[/caption] Buzgon and O'Hara Eye First Major Title Both Daniel Buzgon, third in chips, and O'Hara, fifth in chips, have plenty of poker success ahead of this deep run in the Season XVII WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open. Both had more than $2 million in live tournament earnings and multiple six-figure scores ahead of this event, but neither had won a major poker title. Both have also come close in WPT Main Tour events before. Buzgon has previously reached a WPT final table twice, finishing third in the WPT Borgata Poker Open and fourth at WPT Jacksonville, both in Season X. O'Hara's closest call to winning a WPT title was a ninth-place result in the Season XIV WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic. Di Rosa Rojas and Lima Making the Most of First WPT Cashes The other two players to reach the final table were Joseph Di Rosa Rojas and Lima. Combined, the two have just more than $1 million in live tournament earnings. Di Rosa Rojas entered the WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open with $770,366 in live earnings, and Lima had $263,186. You may know Di Rosa Rojas for his finish in the 2017 WSOP Marathon event, which he won for $690,469. Lima's best result comes from a $102,149 score in Las Vegas. Both Di Rosa Rojas and Lima are making their first World Poker Tour final table with this run. Hublot WPT Player of the Year Implications As already mentioned, Liu moved into first place in the Season XVII Hublot WPT Player of the Year race with his 15th-place finish in the WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open. Each of the remaining six players will earn at least 800 points in the race, and there are 1,400 points up for grabs to the winner of this event. Those are a lot of points for the winner, but no player to reach this final table has cashed in Season XVII yet, so everyone is starting from scratch. That said, 1,400 points would jump the winner into fourth place, right behind this season's WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic winner, Dylan Linde. Next Stop, Las Vegas On March 13 After reaching the final table, the final six players were sent on a 41-day hiatus. They’ll pick up the action on March 13, 2019, in Las Vegas at the HyperX Esports Arena at the Luxor Hotel & Casino. That’s when they'll compete for the $728,430 top prize, which includes a $15,000 buy-in into the season-ending Baccarat Crystal WPT Tournament of Champions.
  7. In recent days, the World Poker Tour wrapped up its annual end-of-season Championship event from the Borgata in Atlantic City. This year, the tournament attracted 239 entries, down 27% from the 328 recorded last year. PokerNews' Donnie Peters (pictured) called the development "worrisome," so PocketFives took to Twitter to figure out why attendance slid so much. Peters gave his take on why the WPT Championship headcount dropped, Tweeting, "5% no High Roller and Super High Roller, 20% timing on schedule, 75% location." The European Poker Tour's Grand Final was taking place concurrently across "The Pond," meaning many poker pros were camped out there rather than in aging Atlantic City, the site of the WPT Championship. Kevin Mathersadded on Twitter, "Also no re-entry, second Day 1 flight, and no guaranteed prize pool." The 2014 WPT Championship had a $5 million guarantee, while no guarantee existed this year. Getting to Atlantic City is no easy feat. A small airport exists about 10 miles away, but is largely just served by Spirit Airlines. Instead, most players fly into cities like Philadelphia and then drive over an hour. Speaking to that, Online Poker Report's Chris GroveTweeted, "Lot harder to get to via plane than some other places." Contrast Atlantic City with a place like Las Vegas, where the airport, which is served by dozens of carriers, is a stone's throw from the Strip. United Airlines formerly served Atlantic City's airport, but discontinued service in December. Thus, only three airlines serve 13 destinations. Compare that with McCarren Airport in Las Vegas, which has over 30 airlines and is one of the busiest hubs in the entire world. We had a few high-profile players lend their thoughts on the declining WPT Championship attendance. Mike Gags30Gagliano, who is from New Jersey, commented, "Lack of guarantee versus last year, also timing made it tougher to do this and Monte Carlo." Christian charder Harder (pictured), who made the WPT Championship final table in 2009, added, "It was reentry last year and not this year." Peters said on Twitter that there were only 12 reentries last year. "Poker Life Podcast" host Chicago Joey said the cab ride to and from the Atlantic City airport put him on life tilt: "Last time I was out there, the ride to and from airport was so tilting." The WPT Championship moved from Las Vegas to Atlantic City for the first time in 2014, but as the team from Pokerfusechimed in on Twitter, "WPT Championship attendance declined for six of the last last years before it moved to AC." With that in mind, here are the attendance numbers for the WPT Championship each year it has been held. The event switched from a $25,000 buy-in to a $15,000 buy-in last year (Season 12): Season 1: 111 Season 2: 343 Season 3: 453 Season 4: 605 Season 5: 649 Season 6: 545 Season 7: 338 Season 8: 195 Season 9: 220 Season 10: 152 Season 11: 146 Season 12: 328 Season 13: 239 What do you think? Comment here and let us know. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook.
  8. The end-of-season World Poker Tour Championship is on the move. This year, the tournament will move across the United States from its old digs at the Bellagio in Las Vegas to the Borgata in Atlantic City. The action begins on April 21 and features the New Jersey Championship of Online Poker, or NJCOP, running alongside it, giving players the chance to battle offline and online. Sign up for PartyPoker New Jerseyand sign up for Borgata Poker today. WPT President Adam Pliska commented in a press release that a change of scenery for the WPT Championship should provide a fresh start: "After 11 years in Las Vegas, we saw an interesting opportunity to shake things up and update our iconic Championship. With the move to New Jersey, the lower buy-in, and the support of PartyPoker, which is qualifying players online, we're giving players who may never have been able to join us for this prestigious event a chance to enjoy the ultimate WPT experience." New Jersey players will have a unique opportunity, as PartyPoker and Borgata Poker are qualifying players for the WPT Championship. There are three ways to score a WPT Championship seat, including a 64-player Heads-Up Shootout on April 13 at 4:00pm Eastern Time, three freezeouts the same day that range in buy-in from $100 to $2,000, and a Last Chance Qualifier on April 17. The Borgata has been the site of five of the six largest WPT events ever, including Season X's Borgata Poker Open, which drew 1,313 entrants, and January's Borgata Winter Poker Open, which attracted 1,229 entrants. First place in the WPT Championship is guaranteed $1.35 million. This year, the tournament boasts a more affordable $15,400 buy-in. One PartyPoker official told PocketFives that the WPT Championship represents "one of the best TV poker events in the world and the crown jewel of the WPT." The same source added, "Making the WPT Championship a success in New Jersey would be great for all of us: for PartyPoker, for Borgata, and for the New Jersey poker landscape." Last year, David "Chino" Rheem won the WPT Championshipand earned $1.1 million, defeating Erick Lindgren heads-up in a final table that also included PocketFiver David Davidp18 Peters, who finished sixth. The 2013 WPT Championship, which had a $25,500 buy-in, drew 146 entrants. The NJCOP runs from April 19 to 27, concurrently with the WPT Championship, and has a $500 High Roller on April 27 that guarantees $20,000 to first place. The NJCOP will shell out at least $600,000 total across 15 events. Sign up for PartyPoker New Jerseyand sign up for Borgata Poker today. You don't have to be a New Jersey resident to play on either site; instead, you just need to be physically located in the Garden State. Best of luck to all PocketFivers entering the WPT Championship and NJCOP! Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  9. After lying dormant for much of the last few months, the lawsuit filed by Borgata in Atlantic City against poker pro Phil Ivey (pictured) over $9.6 million that Ivey won at baccarat has heated up in recent weeks. --- PocketFives' news coverage is brought to you by Betsafe, one of the leading suppliers of online gaming products worldwide and a major sponsor of Gumball 3000. Sign up now for great bonuses, €3,000,000 guaranteed monthly, and plenty of live events! --- The original lawsuit filed by Borgata in April had been quiet as of late, but Ivey's attorneys reopened the battle with a motion to dismiss the caseearlier this month. According to John Brennan's Meadowlands Matters blog, the motion asked to dismiss the case on the grounds that Borgata did not file its complaint in the required time frame and that Borgata's claims are inadmissible because a private company cannot make them in court. The motion also stated that the New Jersey court system isn't the place for solving such issues, noting that the New Jersey Casino Control Commission and Division of Gaming Enforcement normally handle disagreements. On Tuesday, Borgata fired back with its own motion to dismiss Ivey's motion. In it, Borgata's attorneys stated, "This case involves a premeditated, practiced, and intricate scheme by [Ivey] and Cheng Yin Sun to gain an advantage playing baccarat. Although their motion cleverly attempts to apply existing case law to the facts in this case, defendants cannot escape the fact that it is only casinos, and not casino patrons, that are regulated by New Jersey's Casino Control Act." Borgata's motion went on to state that the casino is completely within its rights to file a lawsuit against Ivey and Sun. In a previous case that involved players at the Golden Nugget in Atlantic City, a court found that a "private right of action" is allowed by the court system for a casino against a patron. "This was the only way for the Golden Nugget to recover its alleged damages." The case hinges on several visits by Ivey to Borgata in 2012, where he requested that the casino provide him with an outlet for baccarat. Playing at $50,000 per hand, Ivey put $1 million on the table, but had several requests that Borgata had to comply with in order to get his business. Ivey requested a private area where he could play, a dealer who could speak Mandarin Chinese, the ability to bring a guest (allegedly Sun), one deck of purple cards from Gemaco, and an automatic shuffler. Borgata acquiesced to these requests and over the span of four sessions from April to October 2012, Ivey was able to book $9.6 million in profits. The Borgata sessions were done at the same time that Ivey and Sun allegedly went to London for a similar game at Crockfords Casino. In several sessions in August 2012, Ivey is alleged to have won £7.3 million that Crockfords has, to this point, refused to pay out. That case is still awaiting adjudication. Both casinos are alleging that, through the use of "edge-sorting," Sun would direct the dealer to turn particular cards a certain way, stating that it was an Ivey "superstition," so he could recognize said cards when they came out of the deck. The knowledge of the cards could swing the advantage from the casino to Ivey, both casinos profess, and Ivey hasn't denied that he and Sun did this in either case: Ivey and Sun have 12 counts against them in the Borgata lawsuit, including violations of RICO laws. A New Jersey magistrate judge, Ann Marie Donato, has scheduled a conference between the two sides for August 5 in which the discovery process will begin. That process could take up to eight months to play out, meaning that any potential trial wouldn't begin until 2015. In the meantime, Donato has suggested that both sides attempt to mediate the situation and avoid a long and costly court battle. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  10. Last week, Christian Lusardi (pictured), the alleged mastermind behind the Borgata "chipgate" scandal, pled guilty to two federal charges: copyright infringement and trafficking in counterfeit labels. He earned a five-year prison sentence and another three years of probationfollowing his release. Lusardi will also have to pay restitution of over $1.1 million. The case against Lusardi was actually ongoing when he allegedly committed his acts in New Jersey that brought his name to light in the poker world. An investigation by the Department of Homeland Security had Lusardi under surveillance since 2010 and he was a person of interest in a case dating back to 2012. After Lusardi was arrested last year for fake chips at Borgata, the feds were able to get a look inside his home and were stunned at what they found. The search of Lusardi's home in Fayetteville, North Carolina turned up more than 37,000 pirated DVDs, which Lusardi would sell online, at pawn shops, and at flea markets. DVD burners, packaging equipment, and shipping labels were also found in the home, demonstrating that he was sending the product around North Carolina. The success of DVD piracy is allegedly one of the things that led Lusardi to think that he could counterfeit poker chips. Authorities spoke with Lusardi's ex-wife, who admitted that fake chips were part of the shipments that were coming from China. She also discussed how Lusardi had used his own daughter to help construct the counterfeits. Lusardi's then-girlfriend confirmed the ex-wife's story, stating that prior to the start of the 2014 Borgata Winter Poker Open, Lusardi had sent himself a package to the hotel. The first event of the 2014 Borgata Winter Poker Open was a $2 million guaranteed event with a $500 buy-in. Lusardi bought into the tournament and was one of the leaders of the event as it reached its final days. The reason for Lusardi's success? He allegedly had introduced 800,000 of his counterfeit stash of chips (pictured) into the tournament. Once the counterfeit chips were discovered, Borgata officials immediately shut down the tournament, which had three tables left. Lusardi, who had busted in the money, had already fled the Borgata grounds and checked out of his room at Harrah's, but not before dumping the remainder of the counterfeit chips into the commode. The resulting clog brought repairmen at first and then security officials, who immediately put the spotlight on Lusardi by issuing an arrest warrant. He was apprehended a few days later at another Atlantic City hotel. The resolution of the federal case against Lusardi may have many wondering what will happen with the charges from the Borgata case. As federal cases often overrule state cases, the resolution of the federal piracy charges was going to get first dibs. With the resulting five years in federal prison and three years' probation, New Jersey officials may not want to pursue the case against Lusardi, figuring that the federal case would be more punishment than they could administer. There is a possibility that the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement could try Lusardi while in federal prison, but any sentence might run concurrent with his federal time instead of consecutively. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook.
  11. Phil Ivey(pictured) is in a heated legal battle against Atlantic City's Borgata Casino, which is suing the 10-time bracelet winner for $9.6 million, the amount he won at its baccarat tables using a technique that the casino considers to be cheating. In response, Ivey has made counterclaimsalleging it was the casino which tried to take advantage of him using attractive cocktail waitresses and free alcohol. This week, Borgata filed a brief to have those allegations dismissed by summary judgment, a document that revealed new details about the incident. Borgata claims that Ivey and a woman named Cheng Yin Sun committed fraud against the casino via a technique called edge-sorting, in which eagle-eyed players exploit tiny imperfections on the backs of playing cards. Over the course of several sessions, Ivey used his VIP status to make several odd requests that would help him in that scheme, including requiring a purple deck of Gemaco playing cards and a Mandarin-speaking dealer. The pair walked away with nearly $10 million in winnings, with the casino only becoming suspicious after Ivey had been accused of using edge-sorting at Crockfords Casino in London, where he and Sun had won several million dollars as well. In a 19-page brief filed this week, Borgata said the issue simply boiled down to whether edge-sorting was legal. "When the dust kicked up by Defendants' repeated attempts to vilify the casino industry settles, we will have come full circle to the beginning of this case," said Borgata attorney Jeremy Klausner. "This issue is, and has always been a simple one: is edge-sorting, as specifically admitted to and practiced by Mr. Ivey and Ms. Sun, cheating or unfair play?" Borgata also challenged Ivey's claims that he was not able to review the playing cards in question, as they had been destroyed by the casino. "Mr. Ivey is a well-known, high-stakes, professional gambler and a longtime VIP customer of Borgata. Borgata had no reason to suspect Mr. Ivey intended to engage in edge-sorting or any other cheating or unfair play," it stated. Borgata brushed aside Ivey's argument that he was taking advantage of by the casino as well. "The individual playing cards do not change the answer. Complimentary drinks do not change the answer. Cocktail servers do not change the answer," said the brief. "There is no defense that changes the underlying nature of Defendants' edge-sorting scheme. It is either permitted or not, lawful or unlawful, and that is the question before this Court." With the filing came several new details about how Ivey and Sun were able to pull off such stunning wins. In the document, Ivey's partner is referred to as one of the only people in the world who knows how to edge-sort at baccarat. It claims that people have offered to pay Sun to teach them the technique, but she has always refused. Edge-sorting is extremely difficult and took Sun three years to teach herself. To pull off the scheme with Ivey, she instructed the dealer to give her a peek at the next card off the deck before turning it over on the table. But before flipping it, Sun would tell the dealer how to orient the card (for a "superstitious" Ivey) on the felt. It would then be put back into the shoe, but turned in a way where she knew what it would be when it came up again. Advance knowledge of what the first card off the deck will be gives a baccarat player a substantial edge over the casino. "Mathematically, players with first card knowledge have an overall advantage of approximately 6.765% over the house. The advantage is up to 21.5% for 'player' bets and up to 5.5% for 'banker' bets," said the brief. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook.
  12. To start off 2014, the opening event of the Borgata Winter Poker Open was canceled when 27 players remained after officials found "a significant number of counterfeit chips." The tournament carried a healthy $2 million guarantee and first place was scheduled to make $372,000. Two months later, its remaining participants are anxiously awaiting a resolution. One of the final 27 shared an update on TwoPlusTwo saying that Borgata contacted him on March 21. "Borgata had been actively meeting with the [New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement]for several weeks trying to clarify the event that was cancelled and also regulations regarding future events…. 'Near future' was the only time frame offered." Christian Lusardi was taken into custodyin late January after allegedly trying to flush the fake chips down the toilet of his hotel room at Harrah's Atlantic City. He was charged with rigging a publicly exhibited contest, criminal attempt, and theft by deception. Lusardi (pictured) was also hit with charges of bootlegging DVDs. According to the same poster, "We all knew Borgata was not sitting around twiddling their thumbs waiting for the DGE, but working with them; this seemed to me like the first time Borgata expressed that they were not passively 'cooperating,' but actively trying to resolve the situation… I would like to think they are now just calculating how to chop the prize pool amongst the final 27, but it seems plausible that there is still a legal cluster**** with a medley of lawyers' voices." In late February, a class-action lawsuit was filed, with Jacob Musterel serving as its face. According to the Press of Atlantic City, "The claim seeks refunds of the players' buy-in money and entry fees as well as reimbursement for incidental damages, such as travel costs." The poster on TwoPlusTwo noted that he'd soon consider a legal battle in order to resolve the situation: "I wouldn't even consider talking to a lawyer until at least three months have passed. That day is coming in a few weeks, but I am still… of the mindset that there is really nothing to do but wait and that I will be getting my equity… eventually." Meanwhile, other members of the 27 tossed around the idea of showing up at the Borgata Spring Poker Open, which starts on April 8, in order to "get some face time… as a group if we do not have a resolution by then." We'll keep you posted on the latest right here on PocketFives. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  13. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640"] Anna Antimony climbed high in 2017 and is looking to build on that momentum in the new year. . (AlCantHang photo)[/caption] Anna ‘OhUrAPro’ Antimony used to grind on the slim margins of the Borgata $2/$5 cash games until a tournament result opened her game and life up to new possibilities. Last November, Antimony chopped the Borgata Fall Poker Open Event #1 for $126,146. For the first time in her professional career, Antimony had the bankroll flexibility to take a deep breath and bask in the glow of the work put in to reach this point. This wasn’t Antimony’s first stab at a tournament during her professional life. Antimony was a staple in lower buy-in Borgata events like the Saturday Series but never got over the hump required to play larger buy-ins or a consistent basis. Finally, she did and hasn’t looked back since. “Chopping Event #1 was huge for me,” Antimony said. “I think for any poker player grinding cash every day and playing a tournament here and there, it’s always hard to consistently build your bankroll. When you have a six-figure score, not only does it boost your confidence and make you feel like you can finally tell your parents you're not just a degenerate gambler, but it gives you so much freedom in terms of doing what you want.” Antimony carried over her success in 2017, where she collected $167,285 in live earnings along with her first two Borgata Poker Open trophies. One of those wins came in the prestigious Six Max event where she beat a tough final table with Mark Dube and TJ Shulman finishing on the podium. The win also represented a culmination of Antimony’s efforts into improving her own game. Antimony owns a strong group of friends in the poker community, including WPT500 winner Jon Borenstein. In addition to talking over hands, Antimony watches tournament live streams to learn from other players and how they play certain spots. “Besides just playing a lot more volume and constantly discussing hands with other players I watch a lot of poker. I am just so fascinated by how many different ways a single poker hand can be played and the various lines people choose to take.” Now that she has a title and more experience playing in four-figure buy-in events, the general expectation might be for Antimony to shoot higher and try to become a regular on the East Coast circuit. Not so fast. Coming into 2018, Antimony’s goals in life do not center around poker. The balance that many players seek is something Antimony wants to achieve for herself. Antimony clearly has a passion for the game but the emotional toll of having poker be the sole source of income is starting to gradually weigh on her. So, if playing less poker means more personal stability in the new year, Antimony is going to make the appropriate sacrifice. “I'd like to venture out into new things. As much as I love the game, I can't see myself doing this my whole life for a living. I've also found I play better and am way happier when I take breaks and do non-poker stuff with friends and family,” Antimony said. “It's crazy, when I had a full-time job I would drive down to Atlantic City after work and play cash till 5:00 am and go straight to work and be so miserable the next day. I loved the game so much you couldn't drag me off a table. I think the best way for me to get back to a place where I can be as enthusiastic about poker as I once was is to have other sources of income where I have more stability and balance in my life.” The one time during next year when Antimony plans to put her full heart and soul into grinding is the World Series of Poker. Antimony limits her travel for most of the year but is already eyeing a big summer out in Las Vegas. “I’m really excited for WSOP next summer and for sure planning on playing bigger tourneys and putting in more volume. As cliche as it may sound, I want to win a bracelet. I want it so bad. Every summer I watch the winners give their thank you speeches and all I can think is ‘That should be me.’” It could very well be her but before that time comes, Antimony is expected to play a heavy schedule in January’s Winter Poker Open and perhaps come close to nearing the exit point she’s searching for.
  14. The World Poker Tour returns to the East Coast for the popular WPT Borgata Poker Open. Taking place from September 16-23, the third stop of Season 17 features a $3,500 Main Event with a $3 million guarantee. Get In The Game Those looking to play in the tournament will find what the players on tour have come to expect: a Main Event worthy of being called a major title. It begins with sixty-minute starting levels that expands into 90-minutes as the tournament progresses. The 40,000 starting stack (400bb), the big-blind ante and a 30-second shot clock (when the tournament is one table away from the money) gives players plenty of room to maneuver but also keeps the action moving quickly. There are two scheduled two starting flights with unlimited re-entry. So, players may want to consider registering early if they want to avoid being an alternate as the Main Event has drawn more than 1000 entries every year since Season 8 when they dropped the buy-in from $10,000 down to $3,500. A Rich History The partnership between the World Poker Tour and Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa reaches all the way back to Season 2 (2003-2004) when Noli Francisco defeated a final table that included poker heavyweights David Oppenheim and Carlos Mortensen for a first place prize of $470,000. Since that time, the Atlantic City resort has been a staple of the tour and has crowned some of the biggest names in poker as its champion. Daniel Negreanu, Mark Newhouse, Vivek Rajkumar, Olivier Busquet, Anthony Zinno, Jesse Sylvia and four-time WPT champion Darren Elias have all hoisted the Borgata Poker Open trophy over the past 15 years. Last year, in Season 16, a field of 1,132 runners helped push the prize pool to over $3.6 million dollars. Virginia resident Guoliang Chen’s poker dream came through when he went on to close out the final table, that included PocketFives Legacy Award winner Cliff Josephy, to earn $789,058. It was easily a career-best cash for the East Coast grinder who is likely to be in the field in 2018 to defend his title. Early Returns In POY Race It’s still early in the WPT season and so the Player of the Year race is still very much wide open. Simon Lam who won $565,055 for his victory at WPT Garden Poker Festival in Los Angeles and WPT Choctaw winner Brady Holiman are tied for the lead. Lam, who currently lives in Los Angeles but is from the East Coast, was a longtime Borgata regular. In fact, last year, he took fourth in this very event for $250,970. There’s a good chance with his recent WPT success and his results from last year, Lam will return to make a run at another 2018 title. However the player to keep an eye on, should he show, is Men “The Master” Nguyen. That is, if Nguyen can even keep his own eyes open. Through the first two WPT Main Tour stops, Nguyen has been more than just a presence on the tour, he’s been a big part of the show. He made the final table at The Gardens Casino, but not before literally falling asleep at the poker table. He also tried to take a bet back after he saw he lost the hand. Nguyen ended up finishing in third place for $270,430. “The Master” then marched on to Choctaw and went deep again, taking 11th place for another $36,230. Those two results have put him third in the early POY race and should he show at Borgata he’d be in a position to take the lead. Follow The Action For those looking to follow all the action from the Borgata, the World Poker Tour live updates team will be keeping track of all the biggest hands. The WPT will also be live streaming the final table, which will begin on Friday, September 21 at 2 pm. Viewers can catch the broadcast on the WPT website or YouTube page. All of the action gets underway with Day 1A of the WPT Borgata Main Event on Sunday, September 16 at 11:00 am ET. World Poker Tour Main Event Schedule Date Day Time 09/16 Main Event Day 1A 11:00 AM 09/17 Main Event Day 1B 11:00 AM 09/18 Main Event Day 2 11:00 AM 09/19 Main Event Day 3 11:00 AM 09/20 Main Event Day 4 12:00 PM 09/21 Main Event Final Table 2:00 PM
  15. This week the New Jersey Sunday Majors featured the conclusion of the Spring edition of the partypokerNJ Garden State Super Series on top of the standard Sunday schedule. Event #10 of the GSSS was the $325 NL Hold'em Main Event event, which broke the $100,000 guaranteed prize pool. 'Tiger15' won the event outright for $19,623 along with a $2,700 main event seat to the Borgata Spring Poker Open. Event 10 was a $1,060 NL Hold'em tournament that narrowly missed the $50,000 guarantee as a heads-up deal was struck with Josh 'WilfordBrimley' Berarditaking the title and $10,385 and 'Mr._Robot' taking home $10,365. Event #9 of the GSSS was the $109 Six Max $10,000 guarantee, which 'Skonny' won outright for just under $3,500. PokerStars wrapped up their NJ City Series on Sunday with a $400 buy in $50,000 guaranteed Main Event. A three-way deal was made with'801108','iheartjlaw', and 'supremetny' all coming away with more than$9,500. '801108' took the victory and the $11,474 first place prize, as a result of the deal. The $200 Progressive Six Max KO event carried a $44,082 prize pool and a host of PocketFivers at the final table. Jeremy 'FunkyJesus' Danger took the title for $5,289 with Mike 'MartinChatwn' Lavenburg finishing second and Michael 'J3tBl@ckP0pe' Gagliano placing fifth. Over at WSOP NJ/888poker it was 'BluffaloBob' winning the Opening Strike, earning almost $3,500 for his win. Taking down the $50,000 guaranteed Ultimate Warrior was 'wolfof5thst' earning $13,500. 'mickyred777' claimed the Fierce Warrior title for over $3,838 while 'tydonkman' finished out the night in the Lightning Warrior turbo for $1,465. Below are the full final table results from Sunday's major online events on the regulated sites in New Jersey. partypoker NJ/Borgata Poker Garden State Spring Series Event 10: $325 NLHE Main Event RE $100,000 GTD 363 total entries, $108,900 paid to 54 places Tiger915 - $19,623.78 Lakad - $13,906.53 WillAtkinson - $9,801 pd55473 - $8,058.60 romet05 - $6,915.15 StuUngar - $5,826.15 FepsFan10 - $4,737.15 cwinks78987 - $3,648.15 catfoodcritic - $2,570.04 partypoker NJ/Borgata Poker Garden State Spring Series Event 11: $1,060 NLHE High Roller RE $50,000 GTD 49 total entries, $50,000 paid to 8 places WilfordBrimley - $10,385.01* (jaminonfaces) Mr._Robot - $10,365.00* Mazz10 - $7,500.00 RackCityB1tch - $6,000.00 POKERDEGAN23 - $5,000.00 KingsWin - $4,000.00 Skip_2_My_Lou - $3,750.00 TheKing411 - $3,500.00 *Reflects deal made heads up partypoker NJ/Borgata Poker Garden State Spring Series Event 9: $109 Six Max NLHE RE $10,000 GTD 135 total entries, $13,500 paid to 18 places skonny - $3,476.25 Unaware - $2,301.75 ayitdown08 - $1,485 zekearchie -$1,147.50 MistyTheDog - $843.75 JudgeBen - $675 partypoker NJ/Borgata Poker Sunday Seconds $10,000 GTD ($162 NLHE RE) 77 total entries, $11,550 paid to 9 places KINGKONG88 - $3,407.27 Ni - hand2014- $2,165.62 TheKing411- $1,617 MattStout- $1,155 empire1430 - $924 Mike 'pay4medsch00l' Lavenburg - 779.62 (Lav519) Jeremy 'Jermz' Danger- $635.25 (Jermz) stringerbell24 - $490.87 johnnykran- 357.37 partypoker NJ/Borgata Poker Daily $10,000 GTD ($109 NLHE RE) 126 total entries, $12,600 paid to 15 places Jtheace2 - $3,528 Mike 'pay4medsch00l' Lavenburg - $2,229.50 (Lav519) Yong 'OWNEDLOLUMAD' Kwon - $1,512 (ykwon17) brownmagic - $1,012.50 kusterd396 - $787.50 KINGKONG88 - $630 iLikeTo4betU - $504 Anthony 'Flawlessbinkage' Maio - $409.50 (tonydatiger) roystalin - $315 PokerStars NJ NJ City Series 10 $50,000 GTD Main Event ($400 NLHE RE) 112 entries (61 re-entries), $64,875 paid to 20 places 801108 - $11,474.61* iheartjlaw - $9,672.33* supremetny - $9,755.58 Jackiedo67 - $5,969.41 Jeremy 'FunkyJesus' Danger - $4,596.02 JohnnyMania - $3,538.60 Daniel 'loxonbagel' Buzgon - $2,724.47 Norman 'ADMSnackBar' Michalek - $2,097.64 (slystyle012) CoonG23 - $1,615.04 *Reflects deal made three-handed PokerStars NJ NJ City Series 9 $25,000 GTD Progressive KO Six Max ($200 NLHE RE) 172 entries (65 re-entries), $22,041 paid to 24 places Jeremy 'FunkJesus' Danger - $5,289.96 Mike 'MartinChawtn' Lavenburg - $3,647.78 moledaddy - $2,755.12 Ryan 'ISlowRollYou' Hohner - $1,873.48 (shipthesherb) Michael 'J3tBl@ckP0pe' Gagliano - $1,432.66 (Gags30) saulg000dman - $991.84 PokerStars NJ Nightly Stars $12,000 GTD ($100 NLHE RE) 123 entries (53 re-entries), $16,516.80 paid to 27 entries HuySmakuy - $3,473.83 DangerFloof - $2,504.30 (i shall Prevail) KeytarBear - $1,898.42 FlawlessBINK - $1,413.72 SapofPine - $969.40 (Sapofpine) skonnybobo - $807.84 (skonn) Spence1225 - $646.27 (nas1225) Centralbs - $484.70 Ryan 'hagz2richez' Hagerty - $323.13 (hags021) PokerStars NJ Sunday Supersonic $5,000 GTD ($75 NLHE RE HyperTurbo) 62 entries (24 re-entries), $6,063 paid to 12 places Fred 'Scooby-D0O' Ferrell - $1,667.37 MiBender - $1,121.65 JohnnyMania - $848.82 Mike 'MartinChatwn' Lavenburg - $575.98 zootsuit101 - $424.41 Robbyud2020 - $318.30 philsfan858 - $257.67 CrazylKilla - $212.20 WheresDurrr? - $181.89 PokerStars NJ Sunday Warm-Up $10,000 GTD ($50 NLHE RE) 172 entries (79 re-entries), $11,420.50 paid to 36 places teplo2224- $2,335.67 winnickster - $1,713.07 zddibevad - $1,290.51 sruffpuff - $970.74 supremetny - $662.38 ninjaG0 - $513,92 (ninjaGO) BananaHanger - $399.71 lilglassy63 - $285.51 zBeanHeadz - $216.98 WSOP.com NJ/888poker NJ $10,000 GTD Warriors' Opening Strike ($50 NLHE RE) 194 entries (88 re-entries), $12,831 paid to 30 places BluffaloBob - $3,464.37 pixelpuhser - $2,020.88 JaminOnFaces - $1,153.79 TeddyKGB77 - $898.17 whynot38 - $769.86 StacksGrande - $641.55 KINGDONK99 - $487.57 zcpu009 - $307.94 Anna 'JewJon' Antimony - $218.21 WSOP.com NJ/888poker NJ $50,000 GTD Ultimate Warrior ($215 NLHE RE) 170 entries (60 rebuys), $50,000 paid to 30 places wolfof5thst - $13,500.00 mickyred777 - $7,875.00 JingboSlice - $4,500.00 FATDAN44 - $3,500.00 notmejack - $3,000.00 juice - $2,500.00 SLHalper - $1,900.00 Michael 'itWasthatOr0' Gagliano - $1,200.00 myGAME - $850.00 WSOP.com NJ/888poker NJ $10,000 GTD Fierce Warrior ($100 NLHE RE) 92 entries (56 rebuys), $13,468 paid to 15 places mickyred777 - $3,838.38 youdontknow - $2,222.22 Jason 'LuckDuck' Lawhun - $1,346.80 Yong 'LuckySpewy1' Kwon - $1,077.44 RUA11 - $929.29 Lpete096- $794.61 juice - $659.93 Bigcakes1 - $457.91 (Lav519) Fred 'BigDaddy' Ferrell - $363.63 WSOP.com NJ/888poker NJ 5,000 GTD Lightning Warrior ($50 NLHE RE) 88 entries (25 rebuys), $5,141.50 paid to 15 places tydonkaman- $1,465.32 Jeremy 'Jermz' Danger - $848.34 stewchains - $514.15 jmzit2u - $411.32 Black9 - $354.76 aintnojoke - $303.34 QIGONG - $251.93 AC_indahouse - $174.81 adversity45 - $138.82
  16. [caption width="640"] Jamie Kerstetter lives in New Jersey but makes a point to travel around the country and take part in the tournament circuit. (WSOP photo)[/caption] This month alone, there are tournament series going on across all regions of the country. For starters, the LA Poker Classic at the Commerce Casino in Los Angeles is nearing its World Poker Tour Main Event, and West Palm Beach, FL just finished playing host to the World Series of Poker Circuit. In between both of those destinations sits Blackhawk, CO and the Golden Gates Casino. Hundreds of players made their way “up the mountain” to play in the Heartland Poker Tour event with New Jersey’s Jamie ‘mmmWawa’ Kerstetter among them. The newest member of the BorgataPoker.com roster makes her way across the country year-round to play in tournaments and uses poker as a vessel to see new places. A former lawyer, Kerstetter says she enjoys the freedom that poker gives her to travel after she first started gaining air miles as an adult. “The most alluring thing for me (and probably for most people who hate their jobs) was free time and the autonomy to make my own decisions. But I also enjoy being able to make some last minute impulsive trips when I get the itch to go somewhere new,” said Kerstetter. “I used to experience pangs of homesickness when I traveled, but lately I get bored very quickly when my life is routine at home and I enjoy planning the next trip.” The new year has been a busy one for Kerstetter with trips to Oklahoma and Colorado along with a stint in New Jersey already on her odometer. As a means of saving on expenditures such as hotels, poker players will travel together in pairs and Kerstetter’s travel companion for most of the last full year has been fellow New Jersey pro, Chris Horter. Horter has accompanied Kerstetter to a few stops this year and the two made waves on social media last year as they made their way cross-country in an RV from New Jersey to Las Vegas for the World Series of Poker. Accompanied by their dog, Crouton, Kerstetter, and Horter chronicled their trip across America’s heartland and had their relationship grow as a result. [caption width="640"] Kerstetter's dog, Crouton, plays the role of co-pilot with NJ online pro Chris Horter. (Submitted photo)[/caption] “It's definitely a bonding experience to deal with the ups and downs of planning trips and spending 24/7 with each other. We're already planning another cross country adventure and taking a different route to hit up new campgrounds and hikes this time around.” Kerstetter has become known for her work off the felt and inside the broadcasting booth as live streams have grown in popularity in the past few years. Most of the streams she participates in are at The Borgata but her first time participating in commentary came in Venice, Italy which Kerstetter also claims is her favorite place that she has traveled to during her career. “I had the time of my life at WPT Venice. The fear of being in a new place by myself where I didn't know anyone and didn't know the language led to some serious anxiety at first. Getting over that and then exploring the city, making a lot of new friends, and getting to try out commentary for the first time was a huge growth opportunity for me.” Given how many travel destinations there are to choose from on the poker calendar, Kerstetter says the things that bring her back to places a second time are the field quality, how well the tournament is run, and if the “location offers something unique that I can't get at home.” Kerstetter is often on the move and she keeps her Twitter followers plenty abreast of where she is headed next. As the poker season shifts toward the spring, there are many tournament stops to visit and it’s a safe bet that Kerstetter will be on the grind searching for new treasure.
  17. [caption width="640"] Matt Mendez was overcome with emotion last year after winning The Big Stax XV High Roller only a month after the birth of his daughter. (Parx photo)[/caption] Winning poker tournaments can have a contagious effect. Just ask Fedor Holz. There may be no pure way to prove that “momentum” exists in poker but there is an empirical effect of confidence that some players will attest becomes apparent when they put together multiple deep runs. Matt 'MattEMenz' Mendez is one of the believers and pulled off an amazing run last year that spanned two casinos with Mendez ending up $313,000 richer in the process. He wrapped up the Parx Big Stax XV series in February with a win in the $2,500 High Roller event, beating a field of 193 of the toughest tournament players in the Northeast. After making a heads up deal with Nicholas Gerrity to take first place and lock up $100,000, Mendez was overcome with emotion that was heightened with the recent birth of his daughter, Mathai. “Winning the first tournament at Parx changed my life drastically. Before I could even take the winner’s photo, I had to go take a walk and gather my thoughts and feelings and call my wife," said Mendez. "My daughter was only a month old at the time, but since meeting her I've had a hard time controlling my emotions. When I called my wife I was just crying hysterically in a way that I can't remember doing before. That's a feeling in poker that I can't imagine ever having again and I think about it all the time.” Fatherhood is something Mendez takes seriously and is prideful about. The 27-year-old grew up without a father and was without his mother after the age of 13. He credits his aunt and uncle for molding him into the person he is today and says that being a father is something he’s always wanted from life. “Mathai is special to me. The joy I get from being a father makes every part of my life's journey worth it. My main mission in life is to shower her with all the love I have while also helping to develop her into a strong, happy, healthy, free-thinking woman that no matter what has always felt loved.” Mendez followed up his victory at Parx with a victory two months later in an event relatively the opposite of the Parx High Roller. The Borgata Spring Poker Open $1,000,000 guaranteed Event #1 drew a field of 2,527 and when the dust settled, Mendez was there once again in the winner’s circle. This time, Mendez earned $213,000 for his win and felt a new set of emotions when playing for another title. “Winning the second tournament at Borgata, I felt prepared and ready to win. A weird sense of calm that I can't really explain. I was just in the moment and trusted my gut," said Mendez. "I study a lot of different games and playing styles, so when playing, I'm comfortable in trusting in my gut when my immediate thoughts have mixed feelings on how to approach different scenarios.” While he does put in more volume live than online, Mendez says he likes to play the higher guaranteed events that run. Last month, Mendez capped off the PokerStarsNJ Winter Series by winning the $400 buy-in Main Event for almost $21,000. Mendez and his wife, Victoria, are both stay-at-home parents and take great care in raising their daughter. “As I've evolved and eventually had a child, I've realized they don't care what you do for a living they just notice the time spent together so I've cared less about my financial goals and more about quality time. My wife and I take Mathai to the mall regularly and we also go to a baby gym class once a week. [We] are basically living our dreams of being stay-at-home parents while also having our own jobs that allow us to have flexible schedules. ” Mendez thanks Victoria for all the support she has given him from the time the first met and Mathai for “showing me a level of love that I wasn't sure was possible.” The success Mendez achieved last year was a humbling experience for him given all the new variables in his life at that point. Nearly a year removed, Mendez is still grateful for his victories and considers himself blessed to have the life he does and be able to be an integral part in Mathai's upbringing. “Everyday I'm thankful that I'm good enough at a card game to be able to spend the amount of time I do with her.”
  18. In March, Phil Ivey (pictured) was deposed in a case involving alleged edge-sorting at Borgata in Atlantic City. The casino sued Ivey for almost $10 millionand, in turn, Ivey counter-sued Borgata. PokerNews managed to obtain a portion of the deposition, which took place in March. --- Tournament Poker Edgeis the only poker training site dedicated exclusively to MTTs and features over 1,000 training videos, blogs, articles, podcasts and a dedicated strategy forum for members. Check Tournament Poker Edge out on Twitter. --- Borgata filed suit against Ivey in April 2014, calling his actions in baccarat "premeditated, practiced, and intricate." His sessions at Borgata occurred in 2012 and involved a private area where he could play, a dealer who spoke Mandarin Chinese, the ability to bring a guest, one deck of purple cards from Gemaco, and an automatic shuffler. According to the deposition, no one from Borgata asked any questions about Ivey's demands. The 10-time bracelet winner said, "I played multiple hours and they never asked me to stop or never asked me what I was doing, what was my strategy." All told, Ivey won $9.6 million at baccarat, allegedly by taking advantage of imperfections in the deck, using a colleague to ask the dealer to turn certain cards. Ivey suggested that in order to avoid getting swindled in the future, Borgata (pictured) should use a CSM machine, explaining, "It's a continuous dealing machine where… the cards just get reused and reused but they change the order or something. I'm not sure exactly how the cards work. I just know… we don't have a way of beating it." Ivey also added that simply changing the decks out would also solve the issue. As he put it, if Borgata or any other casino did not want to invest in CSM technology, "A cheap thing they could have done is just not reuse the same deck… That's the easiest way to protect yourself." Some of the deposition that PokerNews posted centered on Borgata's cocktail waitresses. Ivey called them the "prettiest waitresses in town" and said he had an "unlimited budget" for alcohol. All the while, he was playing baccarat for five- and six-figures a hand. You might also recall that Ivey won £7.3 million at Crockfords Casino in London (pictured) playing a game called punto banco. The casino alleges he used the same tacticsas he did at Borgata. Crockfords withheld payment and Ivey sued. In October 2014, a judge ruled against Ivey, dismissing the Crockfords case and leading Ivey to appeal. Ivey said at the time, "I'm obviously disappointed with this judge's decision. As I said in court, it is not my nature to cheat and I would never do anything to risk my reputation." In the deposition, an update on the Crockfords legal action was also given. Ivey relayed, "We appealed and we got granted the right to appeal the case… We have a new trial in December, which is very difficult to get appeal over there. It's very tough. Once you lose a case… it's usually done with." We'll keep you posted on the latest. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook.
  19. It has been three long months, but we have a resolution in a tournament marred by fake chips at Borgatain Atlantic City. New Jersey gaming officials and Borgata announced on Monday that each of the final 27 players, who have watched the prize pool sit frozen since January, will receive $19,323. Read the ruling. First place was scheduled to make $372,000 and the top four players would have received over $100,000 had the tournament, the opening event of the Borgata Poker Open, played out like normal. The $19,323 payout is about what 10th place would have made. In late January, Christian Lusardi was charged with introducing fake chips into the tournament, which was cancelled when 27 players remained after casino staff found "a significant number" of fake 5,000-unit chips. A total of 2,143 players in the event will receive $560 back, which represents the tournament's $500 buy-in plus $60 in juice paid to Borgata. They include, according to PokerNews: 1. All entrants who played Tuesday, January 14 on Day 1A beginning at 10:00am, with the exception of those entrants who played in the Event Center and busted out prior to 4:30pm (those entrants could not have come into contact with Lusardi). 2. All entrants who played Wednesday, January 15 on Day 1B beginning at 10:00am, with the exception of those entrants who played in the Signature Room and Poker Room on that day and were eliminated (those entrants could not have come into contact with Lusardi). 3. All entrants who played Thursday, January 16 on Day 2. 4. Entrants who re-entered any Day 1 after busting out may also be eligible for a refund of $560 per entry, depending on the above criteria. Players in the above four groups, according to Borgata, "may have been impacted by the counterfeit chips," but did not make the top 450. As we mentioned, the top 27 players will each receive $19,323 and, as Borgata explained, "Entrants who finished in 28th to 450th place who have already received their prize money will not receive any further disbursements. Borgata has paid a total of $892,690 to this group to date. All entrants in this group who have not yet been paid will receive the amount they would have been entitled to according to their order of finish." There's already a class-action lawsuit filed against Borgata and several posters on Two Plus Two who were irate with Monday's ruling were frenetically looking up information about it. Borgata is distributing $1.7 million, which according to PokerNews includes the $1.4 million in remaining prize money that should have been paid to the top 27 plus $60 in juice for 2,143 entrants added by Borgata. Players will be paid by check within 10 business days. Lusardi(pictured) was picked up after he flushed many of the fake chips down the toilet of his Harrah's Atlantic City hotel room. That prompted plumbing issues and Lusardi's plot was quickly unearthed. So far, he is the only person who has been arrested in connection with the misgiving. Lusardi also faces charges of a bootlegging DVDs. Stay tuned for more on this still-developing story. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  20. On Monday, New Jersey gaming officials and Borgataannounced the resolution to the counterfeit chip incident that plagued the first event of the Borgata Poker Open in January. At the time the fake chips were discovered, the tournament was frozen with 27 players remaining. As we told you on Monday, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement ruled that those 27 players will each receive $19,323, while over 2,100 entrants will receive their buy-in and fee back, a total of $560 per person. Since the ruling was made, reaction has been swift in the poker community. Poker players took to the forums on Two Plus Two to express their feelings, most of which was outrage. The problem most people have is that the top 27 players are receiving a little more than half-a-million dollars collectively, while they were actually playing for about $1.4 million that remained in the prize pool. The difference is going to the players who did not cash but were ruled eligible for a refund. As Thomas "SrslySirius" Keeling put it, "That just seems absolutely horrendous to me." Many posts reflected this same sentiment, calling the ruling a "robbery" and "terrible." Many have suggested that the final 27 players seek legal counsel and there's already a class-action lawsuit pending. A few of the 27 posted in a thread, frustrated and torn on what to do. Jack Rocaberte, posting under the screen name "Pair Draw," said, "Unreal. I'm torn right now. I'm 7th in chips, which is well above the middle of the pack. Idk whether to waste the 'winnings' on a lawyer or suck it up." Another player, "Pninwin," wrote, "Just got email from Borgata letting us know they will be mailing our check for $19,323 over the next 10 days… No acknowledgement that the full prize pool is not being allocated to final 27 or suggestion that we should expect any more." Nick Guagenti, who was second in chips when the tournament stopped, Tweeted, "E-mailed and received a response from Joe Lupo, Borgata VP. Decision is final. Borgata has washed their hands of the situation." Not everyone thinks it's a horrible decision, though. Poster "Lovesantiques" said, "I can see this from more than one perspective. On the surface, yes - the 27 are getting shafted. However, if play had not been affected, then who knows what the actual outcome might have been." Poster "frommagio" opted to give Borgata and New Jersey gaming personnel the benefit of the doubt, writing, "It seems to be reasonably fair, and well thought out - largely along the lines of what I anticipated. I did expect that there would be a slowly increasing payout according to stack size for the final 27, but instead they chose to pay everyone the same. I can't really argue against that, however, since (a) the larger issue was dealt with, ensuring that all the affected players who busted out receive refunds, and (b) the nominal final 27 are making out pretty well compared to other players who are just as deserving." But still, the overall tone of the reactions is anger. One poster summed it up for many. Named "Oneof27," presumably because he is one of the 27 players remaining in the tournament, he wrote, "They stole 2/3 of the remaining players prize pool to pay the bust-outs. When they determine the payouts, it is all done by a percentage of the prize pool. 450 - 28 all have received the original payout as a percentage of the total prize pool. Why? Why does the burden fall on the 27?" What do you think? Leave a comment here and let us know. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  21. Daniel Negreanu (pictured) recently made his opinions about Borgata's lawsuit against Phil Ivey abundantly clear, going on several 140-character-fueled tirades defending his friend on Twitter. The Atlantic City casino is suing the poker legend for $9.6 million, claiming he won the cash using a technique it considers to be illegal. Negreanu, never afraid to speak his mind, started out by questioning the judgment of the casino staff, who allowed Ivey to allegedly run his "edge-sorting" scheme in the first place: "Been reading up on poker news lately and the people running the Borgata high-limit pit have to be incredibly stupid overall." In the Tweet, Negreanu is likely referring to the fact that casino management agreed to allow Ivey to raise his betting limit from $50,000 to $100,000 per hand after he had already won millions of dollars playing baccarat and then continued to allow him to play even though he had been accused of using "edge-sorting" at a London casino. He had praise for Ivey and reiterated the sentiment of many gamblers, saying, "My hat's off to any man who can get an edge on a big-time casino. It's just straight baller and I have zero empathy for the big fish." Going back to the mistakes made by management, Negreanu Tweeted, "Big fish sets all the rules, okays all the rules, they need to eat it when they get beat and not be whiny biatches about it." The "rules" to which he refers are the conditions for the high-limit session of baccarat set by Ivey (pictured) and approved by the casino. The seemingly strange requests included a dealer who spoke Mandarin Chinese and shuffled using an automatic shuffler, a private pit, the ability to have a guest at the table, and, most importantly, a deck of purple Gemaco playing cards. "It's appalling to free-roll customers," Negreanu continued. "Take their money if they lose but don't pay when they win? Are you for real Borgata? That's dirty." Negreanu continued the mini-tirade and called into question how Borgata's image could suffer with gamblers after the incident. "Suing customers who crushed your souls is a bad look. You got bent over. Might as well smile and enjoy it," he ranted. "No one in the world has empathy for Borgata in this. Stop playing victim because your hustle wasn't as good as Ivey's." The consummate gambler even admitted to having been played in the past, but always settled his debts. "I've been hustled before, but the idea of not paying was never even a consideration! Borgata - you got hustled bad. Get over it already," Negreanu said. In one of his final Tweets on the matter, Negreanu summed up how many gamblers view the whole situation. "Borgata, you thought Ivey was stupid and you tried to bury him. He hustled you, smoked you, and left you feeling silly. Stand responsible!" Borgata is suing Ivey, along with his alleged partner in the scheme Cheng Yin Sun and card manufacturer Gemacofor lack of quality control. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  22. In April, the BorgataHotel, Casino, and Spa in Atlantic City filed a lawsuitin the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey against Phil Ivey (pictured), saying he allegedly cheated during several sessions of high-stakes baccarat in 2012 resulting winnings of nearly $10 million. --- PocketFives' news coverage is brought to you by Betsafe, one of the leading suppliers of online gaming products worldwide and a major sponsor of Gumball 3000. Sign up now for great bonuses, €3,000,000 guaranteed monthly, and plenty of live events! --- Ivey and his gaming partner, Cheng Yin Sun, were sued on 12 counts, including Fraudulent Inducement, Breach of Contract, and Breach of Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing. Ivey has now filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. To recap the issue at hand, Ivey and Sun allegedly knew of a defect in the way the Gemaco-brand playing cards used by Borgata were cut, making the pattern on the back of the cards asymmetrical. In advance of a visit in April 2012, Ivey allegedly contacted Borgata to make special arrangements for the high-stakes baccarat game he wanted to play. He allegedly asked for a dealer that spoke Mandarin Chinese, an eight-deck shoe of purple Gemaco cards, permission to have his guest sit with him, a private gaming area, and an automatic card shuffler. His requests were granted and he also agreed to a maximum bet of $50,000 and an advance deposit of $1 million. During four visits spanning from April to October, Ivey and Sun allegedly asked the dealer to rotate key cards in the shoe once their values were revealed. Because of the asymmetrical patterns resulting from the miscut cards, it was possible to identify these cards before they were dealt from the shoe, giving Ivey a huge advantage. The automatic shuffler was key because it does not change the orientation of the cards, thus keeping this "edge-sorting" tactic in play. Over the course of the visits, Ivey won $9.8 million. Here's an infographic of a similar incident that occurred in London showing how edge-sorting works: Furious, Borgata sued Ivey in April of this year claiming he defrauded the casino by making his special requests under the pretext of superstition when he allegedly knew that he was going to be able to edge-sort if the requests were granted. In the motion to dismiss, Ivey's legal team made three main arguments. One is that Ivey and Sun simply did not cheat. They did nothing but use their eyes and intelligence to win; any unusual advantage they may have had was the result of concessions Borgata granted. "Plaintiff's complaint belies its own imaginative pleading," the motion read. "It was Borgata, and only Borgata, that produced, possessed, and maintained absolute control over all the implements of gambling, from the cards to the shoe to the automatic shuffler at all times while Ivey remained on its property." "The use of nothing more than his eyesight and his reliance upon information that was equally available to every single casino customer in no way equates with the [action and wrongful intent] required to accomplish any of the multiple criminal statutes upon which plaintiff relies," the motion added. Another argument Ivey's attorneys made is that even if what Ivey did were illegal, the six-month statute of limitations has expired. "As is obvious from the complaint, Borgata never reported any of the alleged 'illegalities' to the exclusive agency empowered to make that determination, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement," they stated in the motion. Along those lines, the third argument made in the motion is that it is the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement that is allowed to go after Ivey, not the casino. The poker community has not had much reaction to the latest chapter in the Ivey/Borgata saga, but there was much discussion about it when Borgata originally filed its lawsuit. For example, poker pro Daniel Negreanu sided with Ivey at the time, Tweeting, "Big fish sets all the rules, okays all the rules, they need to eat it when they get beat and not be whiny biatches about it," adding, "It's appalling to freeroll customers. Take their money if they lose, but don't pay when they win? Are you for real Borgata? That's dirty." Negreanu is pictured. Stay tuned to PocketFives for the latest on this developing story. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  23. Sometimes you just have to take a shot. That’s exactly what well-travelled New Jersey grinder Michael Azzaro thought when it came to the 2019 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure schedule. One look at Azzaro’s history, both live and online, one can see the bulk of his success has come from East Coast venues in buy-ins of up to $1K. But here at the start of 2019, Azzaro has fired in the $25,000 PokerStars NL Hold’em Players Championship and now, he’s deep in the $10K Main Event. “I’m definitely taking a shot,” Azzaro said. “I played this Main Event last year for the first time. I’ve played the WSOP Main Event three times but have not played any other $10K. So this is definitely one of the bigger buy-ins I’ve played.” Despite not normally playing in the larger Main Events, Azzaro isn’t phased. He’s an accomplished pro, a WSOP Circuit ring winner, with results dating back to 2010. He has over $500,000 in live earnings and another $850,000 online, where the PocketFiver is known as ‘MikeyCasino.' “Actually, I wasn’t even going to play until the day before Day 1 because I was going to go somewhere else, maybe to Choctaw to find something a little softer. But I was already here and I wanted to fire it and it’s been working out so far.” It’s always good when things go your way. However, that wasn’t the case for Azzaro in the $25,000 PSPC where, despite making Day 2, he was unable to cash in. “In the $25K there were a lot of satty winners, a lot of Platinum Pass winners and I thought it was going to be one of the easiest $25Ks I was ever going to play,” Azzaro said about putting together the biggest buy-in of his career. When that didn’t work out though, Azzaro quickly made up his mind to keep taking shots. “While I was here I just had rooms booked the whole series so I was like ‘lets just give this a shot.’” He played in the $1,100 2019 PCA National and picked up a min-cash. But then the decision was made to play the Main. “I thought if things just don’t go well, I don’t play many $10Ks so I at least give myself a shot at winning some big money.” As it turned out, everything has been going well - at least through the middle of Day 3. Azzaro has been holding his own with a chip stack sitting right in the middle of the pack. “It’s been going good, I got lucky on the live stream earlier today - that was great. I just want to play well, play all my hands the best that I can and let the cards do the rest. I don’t want to get my hopes up too high. I try to stay on an even keel at all times. "Even if I’m the chip leader or the shortest stack, I like to play one hand at a time and live in the moment rather than worry about the next day or two.” No small part of Azzaro’s success has been thanks to the support system of the East Coast poker community he is representing while in the Bahamas. A fixture on the scene, he’s been bombarded with support from those who he regularly tangles with on the felt. “I love it. A lot of people, a lot of friends have been hitting me up on Twitter and Facebook just telling me to play good and keep it going and ‘take it down’ and everything. I definitely have a lot of friends in the East Coast poker community and I appreciate all the support they give me.” And win or lose, what’s next for Azzaro? “After this is over…I’ll most likely be at Borgata.” UPDATE: Michael Azzaro's Main Event came to an end in 44th place earning $28,520.
  24. [caption width="640"] Daniel Buzgon is an accomplished poker player in his own right but he is also a menace on the golf course. (Will OC photo)[/caption] While clicking buttons or riffling chips takes up most of the time spent in “the office” of a professional poker player, like any other job, there are hobbies that players enjoy taking part in when they aren’t grinding. When the weather cooperates, the golf course is a well-traveled destination for players as the gambling nature of the game carries over along with the competition aspect. New Jersey native and resident Daniel ‘wildman75’ Buzgonhas a fondness for golf that stretches back to his childhood and led him to pursue a degree in Professional Golf Management from Arizona State University. It was there where the 32-year-old Buzgon first found poker. These days, Buzgon enjoys a life as a respected professional and he sees plenty of similarities in comparing the two games, calling golf “the perfect compliment to poker.” “I think golf and poker fit together perfectly for a lot of people for a lot of reasons. They are both individual ‘sports’ (using that term VERY loosely) where all the pressure is on you. There is no teammate to bail you out in crunch time and that's why I really enjoy both of them. Unlike a lot of sports or games, it is very easy to get a fair bet in golf because of the use of handicaps. Everyone is essentially even and it just matters who shows up and plays better on that day,” said Buzgon. Buzgon certainly knows of what he speaks when talking about the green felt and the putting green. The two-time World Poker Tour final tablist has over $1,600,000 in live tournament earnings to go along with $2,600,000 in online tournament cashes. In addition, Buzgon is the proud owner of a 2.5 handicap. In fact, Buzgon’s commitment to both poker and golf stretches so far that during Borgata Poker Open events, Buzgon can be seen sporting the necessary attire so that should he bust from the event he is playing, he can head directly to the golf course. Fortunately for Buzgon, he was forced to miss some tee times in September as he cashed in the Borgata Poker Open $2,000,000 guaranteed Event 1, Almighty Stack event, and the WPT Main Event. From all of his time shared between the tee box and green, Buzgon has picked up on a few of the nuanced similarities that golf and poker share and a keen understanding of how luck plays a role in both. “The only thing worse than listening to poker players bad beat stories is listening to golfers bad beat stories. You can do everything right in a hand and still lose while you watch your tablemate do everything wrong in a hand and still win," said Buzgon. "That's how the game works and of course, it’s frustrating as hell but stop worrying about it because you cannot control it. There is nothing more enjoyable than when you hit an awful shot and you get a favorable bounce and end up closer to the pin than your opponent who thought he just hit the best shot of his life. You can’t control the outcome so stop worrying about the results.” Fair is not the word that most people would use when initially describing the qualities of the games requiring two cards and a two iron. Buzgon acknowledges that dealing with adversity comes with the territory for both endeavors and that in tournament poker, sometimes laying up is good enough. “There have been so many times where I have been playing a round and everything is going along smoothly and then you lose focus for one shot and your whole round is essentially over. You are not going to win every hand that you play in a poker tournament and you are not going to hit every shot the way you want to over the course of a round. Dealing with these usually separates the good players from the elite ones.” Buzgon concedes that at this point in his poker career, he is content to stay home and play cash games online at night while golfing during the day instead of “traveling around living out of a suitcase playing tournaments.” The life of a full-time tournament grinder may be behind him but with the Borgata Winter Poker Open set to open on January 17, Buzgon will be ready to put his game to the test as there’s always another hole waiting to be played.
  25. [caption width="680"] Joseph Galazzo took time off from poker in 2016 to focus on his health and is seeing a positive change. (Will OC photo)[/caption] The Borgata Saturday Series is one of the most popular and grueling daily events on the East Coast. The $400 buy-in $100,000 guaranteed event is a weekend staple at The Borgata and for those who are able to make it through the 16 hours of play it takes to reach a winner are paid handsomely. Just a few months ago, Joseph 'JOEYdaMUSH' Galazzo barely had the physical capacity to sit for the long hours required to make a Saturday Series run. A regular figure in poker rooms on the East Coast since he started “embracing variance” in 2013, Galazzo made the drastic decision to cut back on his time playing the game and to focus on his health in February 2016. It wasn’t an easy decision for Galazzo to make but as he puts it, he was terrified of what might happen if he didn’t intervene on his own behalf. “The feeling had been building up in me for years that I would soon cross a threshold regarding my health from which there might be no return. It was constantly eating at me when I saw a picture of myself from the Parx blog in February of last year that stopped me dead in my tracks. I'm not even sure why it had that effect on me because it wasn't even close to being my worst photo, but a light inside me clicked on for good that day.” Galazzo put out a tweet announcing his plan to revamp his health and was humbled by the outpouring of support he received from the community. Once he announced his plan, he realized that he had more than himself to prove his results to. “I tweeted that I was taking a break from poker to focus on losing weight, I think mainly to hold myself accountable so that I would take it seriously and not back down. It's one thing for me to say to myself that I'm starting a diet only to cheat the next week and give myself dirty looks in the mirror (but) it's another thing, I thought, if I proclaim to change my life on Twitter and receive all this positive feedback from my poker friends, only to go off the next week at some tournament, eat chili dogs on break and receive disappointed looks from all of them. Even people I didn't know who didn't follow me were wishing me good luck.” [caption width="679"] Joseph Galazzo in January 2016 (L) and August 2016 (R). (Submitted photo)[/caption] Since he announced his plan to change his life, Galazzo has lost 90 pounds and feels more comfortable at the table than ever before. Instead of eating standard “casino food” as he once did, Galazzo’s new diet includes five or six small meals a day, which include protein shakes, water, yogurt, Kind bars, beef jerky and, nuts, followed by a salad on dinner breaks. Galazzo notes that preparation plays a major role in his newfound lifestyle as he packs his meals into a cooler that he has with him at the table so he can eat whenever he’s hungry and not have to worry about finding the nearest fast food option. As a result of his new diet and overall physical transformation, Galazzo adds that he also feels more mentally sharp during long sessions when fatigue starts to set in. “The biggest differences I've noticed on this journey have been mental for sure. I was completely uncomfortable in my own skin prior to making my lifestyle change but now I have a ton more confidence in myself. I've had bouts of depression the last decade because of my weight issues that I felt were starting to affect my results,” said Galazzo. “It's very hard to concentrate on a skill game like poker while trying not to think of a problem that you can't stop worrying about. Even though the results haven't been there during the past year since I've started grinding again, I feel much more assertive and attentive while playing, being able to focus solely on my play.” When the dust settled in last weekend’s Saturday Series, it was Galazzo who took home the trophy and $15,885 as part of a six-way deal. The long day required to win the event is the highest tournament landmark reached by Galazzo since he returned to the game last summer. There are more long days ahead for Galazzo and with his new image, is more than ready to take them on.

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