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[caption width="640"] Yong “ykwon17” Kwon is the #1 ranked online poker player in New Jersey.[/caption] Much like the first month of 2016, the second month of the new year hasn’t changed the players at the top of the New Jersey Online Poker Rankings, but it has changed their order. Last month, Mike 'JohnnyDrama' Haberman was atop that list, but after three players continued to crush through February, Haberman finds himself in fourth, on the outside of the top three looking up at the podium places. Yong “ykwon17” Kwon moved to the top of the rankings and his lead is nearly 250 points. That’s likely thanks to ten wins over the last month, including a victory in the massive partypoker.com $50,000 Sunday Major, an $11,480 score. In addition to his ten first place finishes, Kwon recorded 43 cashes in February, separating himself atop the current New Jersey rankings. Keith 'donnysacks' Donovan remains steadily grinding in second, notching a dozen podium finishes over the last month, including a BorgataPoker.com $10,000 Daily Major victory on February 17. Since then, he’s done well to keep pace with Kwon and after recording a final table run in WSOP.com’s $30,000 BIG Deal, more results over the next month could close that gap at the top of the leaderboard. While Haberman slipped out of the top three, Daniel 'RedsoxNets5' Sewnig moved himself into third after another consistent month of poker. While Sewnig’s rampant start to 2016 has slowed, he still managed to record another half-dozen outright wins through February. The best of these wins came last week, as Sewnig won the $10,000 Nightly R+A on WSOP.com for a $3,400 score. Behind that top four is where the rankings start to have a new look, as BorgataPoker.com pro Michael 'Gags30' Gagliano fell from 5th all the way to 10th, while Kevin 'Sofcknsickk' Campbell jumped from outside the top ten to sixth. That quick ascent has been due to a constant influx of volume for Campbell, who cashed nearly 40 times over the last month, with over half of those scores ending with final table appearances. Campbell came from outside the top ten to slot into the sixth spot, but Justin 'PocketProfits' Wong has made a smaller climb to get into the top five. After a relatively quiet first half of February, Wong notched one of the bigger scores in the state last week, winning WSOP.com’s $30,000 BIG Deal for just over $15,000. He’ll now try to continue that form into March and the Garden State Super Series, which got underway this past weekend. Over $1,000,000 is guaranteed through 62 events on the partypoker/BorgataPoker.com network, meaning that next month’s New Jersey rankings could have a much, much different look after the first major online series of the year. As it stands, the Garden State’s top ten is listed below: ykwon17 - 2,750.70 donnysacks - 2,513.97 RedsoxNets5 - 2,481.80 JohnnyDrama - 2,465.33 PocketProfits - 2,318.67 Sofcknsickk - 2,291.25 Mergulas - 2,277.49 Lav519 - 2,257.30 MikeyCasino - 2,238.83 Gags30 - 2,219.08
[caption width="640"] Michael Gagliano is one of the top spokespeople for online poker in New Jersey through his relationship with BorgataPoker.com.[/caption] The heyday of online poker provided many players with the chance to earn money and gain notoriety by representing a site through wearing a patch while playing. We all know why that stopped becoming a fad but players in New Jersey have been granted that opportunity through the regulation of online poker in the state. Out of all of New Jersey’s websites, BorgataPoker.com has the most “ambassadors” with Michael 'Gags30' Gagliano among them. Gagliano’s online reputation needs little introduction as the online coach is well-respected by many of his peers and the results of his former students, including 2015 World Series of Poker Main Event winner Joe McKeehen, speaking volumes. Along with his $2,700,000 in online tournament earnings and WSOP bracelet, which he won in 2016 for a $2,500 No Limit Hold’em event, Gagliano is about as well-rounded of an online and live player that a site could want to represent them. When online poker first became regulated in New Jersey, BorgataPoker.com was among the first clients to make their product available and Gagliano was excited to be able to represent a company from his home state. “As soon as the opportunity to work with Borgatapoker.com came up I knew I wanted to do it. I've been a huge fan of their live poker room and tournament series for quite some time and knew that working with their online team would be a great experience. It's great to have regulated poker in NJ, and even better having a site like Borgatapoker.com where they're constantly working to get the players the best experience possible.” Being a representative of a site generally means that the “ambassadors” become public figures who put themselves out there in ways that other poker players might not. Gagliano and his popular Twitch stream have given him the opportunity to interact with players from within New Jersey, which Gagliano says is one of his favorite parts of working with BorgataPoker.com. “The best part is getting to interact with all the other players in NJ. A lot of players know me from being represented by BorgataPoker.com, while others just know me from my stream, or even just from seeing my name at the tables. I constantly have players reaching out to me to ask me questions or to just that they enjoy my stream or to congratulate me on a score. It's just really cool knowing that there's such a community of players that support me and enjoy playing online here in NJ.” Although Gagliano enjoys being part of a website now, he did not feel the same as he rose through the ranks of the online world. Gagliano says he was more focused on playing poker than anything else but thought it would be a “good experience” should the right circumstance present itself. The New Jersey online poker community is a strong one and Gagliano is in some ways, the face of one of the top online sites in a poker-crazed state. Gagliano’s teammates on BorgataPoker.com includes accomplished professionals like Matt Stout and Vinny Pahuja, but the state of New Jersey has formed a unit around Gagliano. One that supports their favorites son everywhere he plays. “Wherever I go to play live, I’m never alone. Even if I don't know anyone there, there's nearly always someone who's looking to talk to me and ask questions, it's like I have friends in every cardroom on the East Coast. It's a pretty cool experience most players just don't get.”
[caption width="640"] Ryan Hohner has a chance at capturing an elusive six-figure score when play resumes Friday for the Winter Poker Open.[/caption] The Event Center inside The Borgata has been buzzing this entire week with players taking their shot in the Winter Poker Open $2,000,000 guaranteed opening event. Over 4,000 entrants are anticipated to register when all is said and done, with a crop of top New Jersey online players among them. Already through to Friday’s Day 2 is Ryan ‘shipthesherb’ Hohner, one of the up-and-coming players among New Jersey’s youthful online base. Hohner anticipates that he will be playing most of the major events at the Borgata during this WPO series and has a plan to keep himself fresh during the three-week long grind. “During the WPO, I'll typically make a couple trips back home to spend time with friends and family to kind of hit the reset button if I'm not playing well. After you [register] tournament after tournament after tournament, it can become mundane and with long Day 1's, fatigue can definitely be a factor.” Hohner credits his friend and fellow New Jersey online grinder, Ryan ‘hags21’ Hagerty, with introducing him to yoga. As Hohner notes, yoga “has gone a long way towards making me feel much more relaxed and ready to take on long days.” The 25-year-old Hohner says he started playing online poker as far back as 2008 and during his first two years of college at Ramapo College, he started to commit to the game as a means of making a long-term living. Once Black Friday hit in 2011, though, Hohner soon saw his bankroll vanquished and with it, his vision at that time for being a professional poker player. Despite the life downswing, Hohner remained optimistic he would have another chance and took advantage when the opportunity presented itself. “During the final years of my college education, I worked nights at a local grocery store and continued to pursue a degree in journalism, but knew I wasn't finished playing poker. I continued to work, save money, and sure enough, a door opened up here in New Jersey to play online, and I never looked back.” Hohner has gradually grown more accustomed to the live game in the last year and acknowledges the stark differences between the two. “The foundation to beating live is having an overall good core understanding of game theory and being able to step into the ring psychologically to beat your opponents.” New Jersey online Sundays offer five-figure guarantees on a weekly basis but for live series like the Winter Poker Open, multi-million dollar prize pools are up for grabs that draw players in from up and down the East Coast. With fields numbering in the thousands, some players have a certain strategy for outlasting the masses. Hohner, on the on the other prefers to base his strategy on his the immediate opponents he is up against. “Poker is so very dependent on your opposition and being able to adjust accordingly to fit whatever playing style will win you the most chips. I'd say the biggest aspect as I continually progress my game, as well as my students (since I have recently begun coaching NLH), is being increasingly aware of your opponents at the table and the manner in which they perceive you.” First place prizes numbering in the hundreds of thousands do not come around often and Hohner has a chance to secure the largest tournament cash of his career should he advance deep in the WPO kickoff. Hard work has a tendency to pay off and Hohner is hopeful the time he has invested will pay dividends by week’s end. “It's hard to put into words what exactly making a deep run and notching a significant score would mean to me. This past year, I've put so much work into progressing my life on and off of the felt. A title would be bittersweet and prove to myself that the countless hours of studying amounted to a significant result.”