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Borgata Main Event; Innovation At Its Best

by Roy Winston |  Published: Sep 18, '09


I am finally headed to The Borgata today. I wanted to play some of the preliminary events, especially the heads-up, but a family obligation kept me in NY City. My good friend Jay is flying in today and we will make the drive together. You may remember I mentioned him last time we played an event at Borgata together and wound up at the same table. The dynamics of playing with friends is really interesting, while some play at each harder, trying to out play one another, showing bluffs and so on. Others, “soft” play each other, checking pots down, don’t value bet, or avoid each other all together. I think it is best to play your regular game, no more, no less. Obviously you need to take the information you know about them and adapt to their play, but especially in a tournament, you need to acquire every chip to win, and that should be your goal at all times.

I am really excited to see the turn out for the main event. For those of you not following this, it is a televised WPT main event with a $3,500 buy in. As participation has been dropping almost everywhere for the big buy in $10,000-15,000 events, I believe this will be interesting to see. The Borgata can accommodate 900 players on each of the 2 start days, Saturday and Sunday. I don’t think we will see those numbers, but I think well over 1,000 for sure. If they break 1,100, the top prize will be right around (to quote Dr Evil) One Million Dollars, with no “lasers” involved.

Multi-table and single table satellites will be going on today and tomorrow. In addition to the usual 1:10 MTT they run a 1:7 and a 1:5 MTT for the $3,500 seats. I received a few emails recently, asking why I talk about the Borgata tournaments so enthusiastically; well that’s a simple answer. They are forward thinking, respond to player suggestions, try new ideas, and provide good value for your dollar. Matt Savage, who ran the last LAPC at the Commerce, also delivered a quality tournament series with good participation and results. Coming up at The Bellagio, Jack McClelland is making some changes, which will improve their series as well. He has added PLO and some other events and will be giving the winners of each event, preliminary and main, a Rolex watch. The main event winner’s watch will be solid platinum and encrusted with 42 carats of high quality diamonds valued at “One Million Dollars,” oh no wait a minute, that’s wrong, too much late night Mike Meyers for me, but it will be a more special watch than the preliminary events.

I applaud the effort of trying to improve and making things better. Not all changes work out for the best, but taking risk of failure, instead of accepting the mediocre, is what is necessary for improvement. Also, what works at Borgata, may not be the best solution for Bellagio, I get that. I look at what the WSOP did last year in delaying the final table several months to allow players to get endorsements, hype it up, and have ESPN’s coverage be continuous, and although I was initially against it, they took a chance and tried to improve. I think it was successful, however this year they did it again, and the ESPN coverage of the main event was much less, so the motivation to allow post-production time of the early days is not really justified. I would have liked to see them shorten up the delay to a week or so after WSOP Europe.

What is most frustrating about poker versus other competitions is that all the money let me say that one more time for emphasis, ALL THE MONEY, comes from the player’s buy-ins. So the casinos make their money off our backs and need to provide us with the value. We are the customers, which they often seem to forget. They did it right at the recent event in Cyprus at Merit Casino; everything was set up for the players. Customer service was fantastic, and why shouldn’t it be that way everywhere we play? I’m already looking forward to going back next year.

Speaking of next year, I just made my reservations for Aussie Millions. In keeping with the theme of today I believe this to be one of the greatest events of the year. It begins in January, and I will talk more about it in a couple of weeks. Here is a link to the schedule, and if you go to Virgin Australia, there are very reasonable airfares.

Roy Winston finished 16th in 2007 Card Player, Player of the Year race. He won the WPT Borgata Poker Open and finished the year with well over $2 million in tournament poker winnings. Roy plays online exclusively at Full Tilt. For more information on Roy Winston, you can visit his website: or send an email to: with your questions or comments. The contents presented herein on this blog are purely the opinions of Roy Winston, and are not intended to reflect or promote the opinions of any other person, group, or entity. If you like what I write than thanks for reading, and if not well, thanks anyway.

Any views or opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the ownership or management of
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