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[caption width="640"] Jason Acosta grabbed his biggest live score after taking down the PokerStars Live Festival New Jersey (PokerStars photo / Joe Giron)[/caption] Jason Acosta qualified for the PokerStars Live Festival New Jersey Main Event on PokerStarsNJ.com not for $200, not for $109, not for $39 - but for 5,000 StarsCoins. Late Friday night in Atlantic City the 30-year-old from Little Ferry, NJ turned that small investment into a $38,220 score and the PokerStars Festival NJ title after beating out Michael 'Gags30' Gagliano heads-up. Day 3 started with 23 players and a plan to play down to a final table of eight players, but action moved quickly enough that tournament organizers gave the players the option to play it out. Peter Smyth, who also qualified via an online qualifier, was the first player officially eliminated from the final table. With nine players remaining Smyth opened to 30,000, Jovy Ounthongdy moved all in from the button for just over 100,000 an Eli Kim move all in from the big blind and Smyth called all in. Smyth tabled [poker card="qc"][poker card="qd"], Ounthongdy had [poker card="6d"][poker card="6h"] but Kim was ahead of both of them with [poker card="ac"][poker card="ad"]. The board ran out [poker card="5c"][poker card="4h"][poker card="3d"][poker card="jh"][poker card="ah"] to to give Kim an unneeded set of aces and eliminate both Ounthongdy and Smyth at the same time with Smyth taking home eighth place money. It took just over 90 minutes for the next player to be sent packing. Matt Affleck raised to 36,000 before Rocco Dicondina moved all in for 120,000 from the button. Affleck called and tabled [poker card="qc"][poker card="9c"] while was ahead with [poker card="ah"][poker card="kd"]. The [poker card="jc"][poker card="jh"][poker card="9c"] flop put Affleck ahead with a pair of nines. The [poker card="9s"] gave Affleck trips and left Dicondina hoping for a jack on the river for a chopped pot, but the [poker card="3d"] was a complete miss and Dicondina was eliminated in seventh. Just 15 minutes later, another player was eliminated. From the hijack, Sridhar Sangannagari raised to 42,000 before Gagliano made it 90,000 from the cutoff. Sangannagari moved all in for just over 170,000 total and Gagliano called. Sangannagari flipped over [poker card="qs"][poker card="jh"] and found out he was in rough shape when Gagliano tabled [poker card="kc"][poker card="kd"]. The [poker card="qd"][poker card="6d"][poker card="5c"] flop gave Sangannagari some hope and the [poker card="qh"] turn put him ahead, but the [poker card="ks"] river gave Gagliano a rivered full house to eliminate Sangannagari. Despite starting the final table with the chip lead, Affleck couldn’t out run a cold deck. Down to just seven big blinds, Affleck raised all in after Kim opened to 48,000 from UTG. Kim called with [poker card="as"][poker card="kd"] and found he had Affleck’s [poker card="ks"][poker card="qs"] dominated. The [poker card="ac"][poker card="8h"][poker card="8s"] flop left Affleck drawing nearly dead and the [poker card="4d"] on the turn made it official. The river was the [poker card="9s"] and Affleck was out in fifth. Another player who had spent time with the overall chip lead during the course of the tournament was eliminated just 15 minutes later. Action folded to Kim in the small blind and he raised enough to put David Johnston all in from the big blind if he called. Johnston called and tabled [poker card="8s"][poker card="3s"] and found himself out-pipped by Kim’s [poker card="8c"][poker card="4c"]. The [poker card="kd"][poker card="5s"][poker card="4d"] flop put Kim ahead. The [poker card="9s"] turn gave Johnston a flush draw but the [poker card="7c"] river was a complete brick and he was out in fourth place. Kim had been responsible for a number of Day 3 bustouts and was the big stack early on in the day, but his run ended in third place. Kim raised to 70,000 from the button with [poker card="2c"][poker card="2h"] and Gagliano re-raised to 215,000 from the small blind with [poker card="ac"][poker card="qs"]. Kim responded with a four-bet to 650,000 and Gagliano moved all in. Kim called all in. The [poker card="ad"][poker card="6c"][poker card="3d"] flop put Gagliano ahead and the [poker card="9h"] turn and [poker card="9d"] river kept him there. When heads-up play began Gagliano had 4,410,000 of the 5,025,000 chips in play with Jason Acosta sitting on the short stack. Over the course of the next two hours Acosta closed the gap and flipped the chip counts to leave Gagliano as the short stack. “He’s obviously a much more accomplished player than me, I knew I was at a huge disadvantage,” said Acosta, who plans on going back to work at his trucking company on Monday. “Once I doubled up I knew I had to double up again because he still had me like 3-1, 4-1 in chips.” Acosta did exactly that, in a hand where both players made a straight and Gagliano called with the lower straight. That hand put Acosta ahead for the first time. It took him 90 minutes to finally put away Gagliano and claim the title, his first live win. Gagliano opened all in for 900,000 and Acosta called. Gagliano tabled [poker card="6c"][poker card="6h"] and found out he was racing against Acosta’s [poker card="ah"][poker card="kh"]. The [poker card="qs"][poker card="jc"][poker card="9c"] flop gave Acosta even more outs. The [poker card="jh"] turn added even more drama and when the [poker card="9d"] fell on the river, Gagliano’s pair was counterfeited and Acosta was the last player standing. Final Table Payouts Jason Acosta - $38,220 Michael Gagliano - $28,116 Eli Kim - $20,683 David Johnston - $15,215 Matt Affleck - 11,193 Sridhar Sangannagari - $8,234 Rocco Dicondina - $6,057 Peter Smyth - $4,455
[caption width="640"] Chris Moneymaker is one of the Team PokerStars Pros making their way to Atlantic City for the first ever Pokertars Festival New Jersey(PokerStars photo/Neil Stoddart)[/caption] For the last six years American poker players have watched as PokerStars-branded live events took place in countries around the world other than their own. Not since Black Friday, when the North American Poker Tour was in the midst of an event at Mohegan Sun, has PokerStars held a live event on U.S. soil. That all changes beginning Sunday. The PokerStars Festival New Jersey is the first official event under the new global PokerStars Live banner and runs for nine days at the Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey. With 40 events on the schedule, and the conclusion of the first ever PokerStars New Jersey Championship of Online Poker, you might think PokerStars Team Pro Chris Moneymaker was excited to get the cards in the air. You’d be wrong. “The foosball and corn hole and all that stuff. Stars is really focused on this StarsFun thing, so there’s gonna be ping pong tables, foosball tables, corn hole, a lot of side stuff. I’m just a big kid so I like doing all that stuff,” said Moneymaker, who recently finished runner-up in an NJCOOP event. To be fair, the 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event champion is also looking forward to the poker. “As far as the festival goes, the first day - which I might miss, but it would be exciting for me if I could play, but I may miss it because the NJCOOP Main Event is on Sunday - they have a $600 Pot Limit Omaha Hi-Lo tournament which I would like to play, but I probably won’t get to,” said Moneymaker. “I’m looking forward to anything with four cards and there’s (also) a $5K Eight Max that will be interesting depending on the field. If i have to go sit down and just play with Jason Mercier, Daniel Negreanu, Vanessa Selbst, myself and Jason Somerville, I’ll probably pass on that, but if it gets 40 people, I’ll jump in.” The Main Event is an $1,100 buy-in event scheduled to run November 1-5, with two-starting days. Players are able to qualify online through PokerStarsNJ.com or a number of live qualifiers in the days leading up to the Main Event. Complete PokerStars Festival New Jersey Schedule “After the Main Event, I’m looking forward to playing the Run It Up events, Jason Somerville’s mixed game events,” said Moneymaker. Run It Up Day is Saturday, November 5 and consists of two live events and other events built around Somerville’s popular live stream. It’s been six years since Black Friday and the Festival will be the first taste of PokerStars Live for an entire generation of online poker players that haven’t experienced one before. Moneymaker things they’re in for a very different experience than anything else they’ve seen or done. “PokerStars just does things different. You go to a lot of tournaments and you play and that’s it. If you’ve ever played in basically any tournament here in the U.S., you show up, you play poker, you go home. That’s really what you’ve got,” said Moneymaker. “But when you come to a PokerStars event, the first night there’s a reception/cocktail party, they have the StarsFun which is going to have a room set up to where people can mingle and have fun. They’re gonna have live streams. They’re going to have Q&As with us. There’s other activities going other than just sitting down and playing poker.” The return of PokerStars to the U.S. was a big deal when it was announced and the live event is another positive step for the company that was the largest U.S-facing online poker site on Black Friday. Moneymaker is optimistic that while all of this seems like a big deal now, there’s still so much more potential should other states get on board with regulated online poker. “It’s obviously a great first step. We’ve got a long way to go. Just the fact that I’m able to play in the U.S., I don’t have to get a passport and go out of the country and all that madness. I can actually come here and stay within the borders and play,” said Moneymaker. “It’s a phenomenal thing. But we’re a long way from being where we need to be. We’re in one state right now, hopefully we’ll be in more next year but it’s a good first step.”