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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.
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 break 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.