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Players Turned Away At Borgata's First Major Live Poker Tournament In Years

The Borgata's $200,000 Guaranteed Presidents Day Tournament Drew A Sizable Turnout, Resulting In Long Lines and Sold-Out Starting Flights


The Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, New Jersey is hosted its first major live poker tournament in roughly two years over the long 2022 Presidents Day weekend.

The Borgata, which has paid out nearly $440 million in tournaments since first opening in 2003, resumed poker operations in October of 2020, but had not completed a major tournament series since February of 2020, right before the live poker world was essentially shut down for the pandemic.

The weekend’s $200,000 guaranteed, $400 buy-in no-limit hold’em Presidents Day event apparently got off to a rocky start, with the high demand outstripping the amount of tables the venue was prepared to run.

The tournament was scheduled for Feb. 20-21. Sunday saw two starting flights take place, one beginning at 10:00 a.m. local time and the second at 7:00 p.m. A massive line formed in the morning hours, with New Jersey resident Jamie Giunta posting on Twitter that the queue wrapped all the way around to the Old Homestead Steak House, which is essentially on the opposite side of the casino.

With the massive turnout resulting in lines that stretched hundreds of yards in length, it didn’t take long before players began to hear rumblings of the event being sold out. Indeed, both starting flights were announced as sold out by the official Borgata Twitter account, @BorgataAC, later in the afternoon.

According to a Card Player contributor who was on site, some players had been waiting for more than four hours before hearing the news, with an alternate list growing into the hundreds. Others had even flown or driven in for the event and stayed at the property with the intention of playing in the tournament.

Ultimately, hundreds of players were either turned away or only were able to take a seat hours after later on a severe short stack. Twitter user @HomieSenior was one of many to share frustration about the situation online, saying, “[I took a] three-hour ride. I spent all weekend here just for this tournament only to wait in line for three hours and buy-in for a 25 big blind stack. I waited in line longer than I played.”

2015 World Series of Poker main event champion Joe McKeehen also weighed in, asking, “Have you considered getting more space or more starting flights in the future? Also bring back the WPTs and stuff and series and get the event center. Look how many people they’re bringing in.”

The event ultimately drew nearly 1,000 entries, but could have blown away the guarantee by an even larger margin had the poker room been equipped with more tables and staff.

WSOP bracelet winner and popular poker vlogger Ryan Depaulo shared a video that he was sent that showed just how long the line got in the early afternoon.