Examining Borgata’s Place in the History of the WPT

The Day 1A field of the 2015 Borgata Winter Poker Open.

The Day 1A field of the 2015 Borgata Winter Poker Open.

The Borgata hosted its debut World Poker Tour event in 2003, early in the tour’s second season. They’d quickly become a staple on the WPT, and eventually one of the tour’s cornerstones over the next 11 years.

Not only has Borgata hosted a WPT event every season since its debut, it’s had multiple events on the WPT schedule six times (including Season XIII). In Season XII, the WPT World Championship was moved to the Borgata, making it only the second casino to hold three WPT events in a single season.

There are several reasons why the WPT seems to keep coming back to this Atlantic City mainstay. In its earlier years – which featured a $10,000 buy-in – the Borgata Poker Open and Borgata Winter Poker Open crowned eight millionaires and consistently featured strong final tables and champions.

Champions from that era include Daniel Negreanu, Michael Mizrachi, Mark Newhouse, John Hennigan, Gavin Griffin and Vivek Rajkumar. Griffin’s Borgata Winter Poker Open win in 2008 made him the first player ever to capture poker’s Triple Crown.

As the WPT evolved and varied its buy-in levels and formats more for Season VIII, the Borgata was the first to truly embrace it and flourish. The Borgata Poker Open that year was the first WPT event to crack 1,000 players – with future WPT Alpha8 commentator Olivier Busquet outlasting all the rest. Dwyte Pilgrim followed the next year with a BPO title of his own.

That started a string of four straight seasons where the Borgata Poker Open featured the biggest field on the WPT. It also laid out the framework for future massive field events like WPT Montreal and the Seminole Hard Rock Showdown, which have also hosted tournaments that drew well over 1,000 players.

With the return of online poker in the Borgata’s home state of New Jersey and the infrastructure that’s been refined for well over a decade, there’s no reason to believe that any of that will change any time soon.

To put the Borgata’s history into perspective, here’s how each of the 18 Borgata events has gone down – along with the biggest event of each season for comparison.

Season II Borgata Poker Open (September 2003)
$5,000 buy-in
235 entries
Champion: Noli Francisco – $470,000

Biggest field of Season II: Ultimate Poker Classic – 436 entries, $4,000 buy-in

Season III Borgata Poker Open (September 2004)
$10,000 buy-in
302 entries
Champion: Daniel Negreanu – $1,117,400

Biggest field of Season III: Party Poker Million – 735 entries, $10,000 buy-in

Season IV Borgata Poker Open (September 2005)
$10,000 buy-in
515 entries
Champion: Al Ardebili – $1,498,650

Season IV Borgata Winter Poker Open (January 2006)
$10,000 buy-in
381 entries
Champion: Michael Mizrachi – $1,173,373

Biggest field of Season IV: Legends of Poker – 839 entries, $5,000 buy-in

Season V Borgata Poker Open (September 2006)
$10,000 buy-in
540 entries
Champion: Mark Newhouse – $1,519,020

Season V Borgata Winter Poker Open (January 2007)
$10,000 buy-in
571 entries
Champion: John Hennigan – $1,606,223

Biggest field of Season V: 2007 PCA – 937 entries, $7,800 buy-in

Season VI Borgata Poker Open (September 2007)
$10,000 buy-in
560 entries
Champion: Roy Winston – $1,575,280

Season VI Borgata Winter Poker Open (January 2007)
$10,000 buy-in
507 entries
Champion: Gavin Griffin – $1,401,109

Biggest field of Season VI: LA Poker Classic – 665 entries, $10,000 buy-in

Season VII Borgata Poker Open (September 2008)
$10,000 buy-in
516 entries
Champion: Vivek Rajkumar – $1,424,500

Biggest field of Season VII: LA Poker Classic – 696 entries, $10,000 buy-in

Season VIII Borgata Poker Open (September 2009)
$3,500 buy-in
1,018 entries
Champion: Olivier Busquet – $925,514

Biggest field of Season VIII: Borgata Poker Open

Season IX Borgata Poker Open (September 2010)
$3,500 buy-in
1,042 entries
Champion: Dwyte Pilgrim – $733,802

Biggest field of Season IX: Borgata Poker Open

Season X Borgata Poker Open (September 2011)
$3,500 buy-in
1,313 entries
Champion: Bobby Oboodi – $922,441

Biggest field of Season X: Borgata Poker Open

Season XI Borgata Poker Open (September 2012)
$3,500 buy-in
1,181 entries
Champion: Ben Hamnett – $818,847

Season XI Borgata Winter Poker Open (January 2013)
$3,500 buy-in
1,042 entries
Champion: Andy Hwang – $730,053

Biggest field of Season XI: Borgata Poker Open

Season XII Borgata Poker Open (September 2013)
$3,500 buy-in
1,189 entries
Champion: Anthony Zinno – $825,099

Season XII Borgata Winter Poker Open (January 2014)
$3,500 buy-in
1,229 entries
Champion: Robert Merulla – $842,379

Season XII WPT World Championship (April 2014)
$15,400 buy-in
328 entries
Champion: Keven Stammen – $1,350,000

Biggest field of Season XII: Seminole Hard Rock Showdown – 1,795 entries

Season XIII Borgata Poker Open (September 2014)
$3,500 buy-in
1,226 entries
Champion: Darren Elias – $843,744

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Tim Fiorvanti

Tim Fiorvanti graduated from St. John's University with a B.S. in Journalism in 2008. After several years in the industry, he started working for BLUFF in the summer of 2010. He worked his way up at BLUFF and joined full time as a Senior Writer in April of 2012. Fiorvanti now serves as the Managing Editor of BLUFF. He's a tortured Mets and Jets fan, along with several other frustrating allegiances, but he's also a two-time defending BLUFF Fantasy Football Champion.
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