Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

Wanted to wish everyone a great holiday. I hope you got everything you wanted this year and your aces never get cracked.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Showboat to change bad beat

I was at the Showboat tonight and was told that once the current bad beat jackpot is hit, which is around 70K that they are changing the requirements to quads over quads.

Right now, the bad beat is aces full of jacks or better, but it should hit pretty soon by the law of averages.

However, there aren't many games going on at the Showboat as the bad beat at the Taj is at 180K right now.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Picture: Revel Construction Site

This isn't the best photo. I took it with my camera phone from the 10th floor of the Showboat.

All Aboard

ACES, the express train from New York City to Atlantic City is nearly ready to start running.

Here's the article from The Press of Atlantic City:

The train is finally at the station, just about ready to bring gamblers and their money to resort casinos growing increasingly anxious for more dollars.

Atlantic City Express Service, or ACES, will begin weekend express service between Penn Station in New York City and the Atlantic City Rail Terminal - with a stop at Newark Penn Station - on Feb. 6.

The service, starting about a year behind schedule, will carry passengers in bi-level rail cars outfitted with leather seats, a private lounge, and custom-designed food and beverage kiosks. First-class seating is found on the upper deck of the train with servers available for food and beverage options.

Introductory one-way ticket prices for the two-and-a-half-hour trip are $50 for a coach seat and $75 for a first class seat.

“After careful planning and collaboration with our partners, we are thrilled to be able to launch this service for New York and New Jersey residents to be able to experience the best of each city through the comfort and convenience of the ACES train,” Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa President Larry Mullin said. “As Atlantic City continues to evolve into a world-class destination, we believe this service will convince more New Yorkers to get to know our city.”

ACES is a joint venture between Borgata, Caesars Atlantic City, Harrah's Resort Atlantic City, NJ Transit and the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, or CRDA.

This isn’t the first venture for an express train involving Atlantic City: Amtrak’s so-called “Gamblers Express” ran for about six years and turned out to be a financial disaster.

Casino and NJ Transit officials are more optimistic about ACES, saying riders will find more to do in Atlantic City than those who took the “Gamblers Express.” It also gives the casinos the chance to further tap the New York market and woo younger, free-spending gamblers to a city that’s reinventing itself from a low-rolling daytripper town to a more affluent overnight tourist destination.

“The New York market has always been a leading market for Atlantic City and we see the launch of ACES as an opportunity to penetrate that market further,” Caesars General Manager Dan Nita said. “This direct service will make it easier for our current customers to get to Atlantic City and will give new customers yet another reason to visit.”

ACES is running on a three-year trial basis.

The three casinos are paying $15 million for eight bi-level cars. CRDA is providing $4.8 million to lease four diesel locomotives from Amtrak. ACES and CRDA will jointly provide another $4 million for operating costs.

There is currently no direct route between New York City and Atlantic City.

Travelers have to take Amtrak between Penn Station and 30th Street Station in Philadelphia, and then transfer to NJ Transit’s Atlantic City rail line.

NJ Transit runs between Penn Station and Trenton, but is denied access by Amtrak to the line between Trenton and 30th Street Station.

More information about ACES can be found at

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Press of AC: Four plead guilty in Borgata sports betting ring

MAYS LANDING - Two of the alleged leaders of a multimillion-dollar sports betting ring at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa pleaded guilty Monday to bankrolling illegal loans and money laundering.

Andrew Micali, 32, of Ventnor, the man who allegedly controlled the day-to-day operations of the 23-person ring, pleaded guilty to second-degree criminal usury, according to Peter Aseltine, a spokesman for the state Attorney General's Office. Micali admitted before Superior Court Judge Michael Donio that he bankrolled loans while knowing the interest rates for those loans were in excess of what the law allows, Aseltine said.

Jack Buscemi Jr., 50, of Harrison Township, Gloucester County, the alleged boss of the ring, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering, Aseltine said. Buscemi admitted that he possessed money that he knew was the proceeds of illegal gambling - money that was generated as the result of a conspiracy with Micali, Aseltine said.

Under the terms of the plea deals, the state will recommend five-year prison terms for both Micali and Buscemi. Micali agreed to forfeit $150,000, and Buscemi must forfeit or pay fines totaling $50,000, Aseltine said.

Also pleading guilty Monday was one of two casino poker room supervisors alleged to have been agents who brought in gamblers and bets for the ring. Joseph Wishnick, 43, of Brigantine, a former Borgata poker room supervisor, pleaded guilty to the third-degree charge of promotion of gambling, Aseltine said.

Robert Mackie, 39, of Staten Island, N.Y., also pleaded guilty to third-degree promotion of gambling. Both Wishnick and Mackie admitted in court to being "agents" of the gambling ring, Aseltine said. Under the terms of their pleas, Wishnick and Mackie will face probation, but the state will ask that county jail time be served, Aseltine said.

All four men will be sentenced Feb. 13 before Donio.

The ring, which authorities say operated out of a poker room at Borgata for 20 months, was busted in November 2007, when a multi-agency investigation, dubbed Operation High Roller, led to the arrests. New Jersey Attorney General Anne Milgram previously said the ring took in $60 million in bets, but Borgata itself was not involved.

The indictment handed down in April charged Buscemi, Micali, and Anthony Nicodemo, 36, of Philadelphia, with racketeering, conspiracy and money laundering, as well as third-degree promotion of gambling. Nicodemo is accused of also exercising leadership over the ring. He is scheduled to appear in court - along with the remaining 18 defendants - Thursday at 1:30 p.m., according to Nicodemo's attorney, James Leonard Jr.

The ring took in illegal wagers on sporting events using password-protected Web sites and a Philadelphia wire room where bets were taken by phone, authorities said.

The investigation, which began in March 2006, revealed that Micali relied on a network of agents to take in millions of dollars in bets on college and professional football and basketball games. Micali and Buscemi allegedly received a percentage of the gambling proceeds collected by the agents.

Deputy Attorney General Kerry DiJoseph is representing the Division of Criminal Justice Major Crimes Bureau, Casino Prosecutions Unit.

Micali's attorney, Louis Barbone, had no comment regarding the plea deals Monday. Buscemi's attorney, Robert Messick, and Mackie's attorney, Carl Poplar, did not return calls for comment Monday afternoon. Wishnick's attorney, Holly Bitters, could not be reached for comment.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Sports betting taking another step

A New Jersey state senate panel is urging Congress to lift a federal ban on sports betting in the state. The panel hopes sports betting will be a big boost for the economy down in Atlantic City.

While I agree with it, I just feel the intentions are bad.

Before no one in Congress wanted sports betting because they were afraid of the mob ties it would bring to Atlantic City. Now, that the city's revenues are falling, no one seems to have a problem welcoming this type of environment.

It probably would help the poker rooms. Most sports bettors enjoy the occasional orbit or two at the table. While they are paying more attention to the game they have bet one, they are playing less attention to the felt, which leads to mistakes.

Seriously, though, it's not like there is no sports betting going on in Atlantic City anyway.

There was the big sports betting ring over at the Borgata poker room, which the people involved have just laughed in the face of the law over this one. Guys that have been arressted have been seen in other poker rooms around town and don't really care about the charges.

In fact, if you see one of them, just ask. They will gladly tell you how they are going to beat the charges and go back to their lifestyle before the fallout.

People bet everyday on sports while playing poker in Atlantic City.

For many, it's a huge leak in their game. But guess what that means for the regular player?

More money on the game. If the bettor loses a game, he'll want to win more back and get stuck on the game for longer. If the bettor wins on a game, perhaps he'll put more money on the game.

One place you won't catch me is at the betting windows.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Harrah's on a Saturday Night

Saturday night the World Series of Poker Circuit Tour was in full swing at Harrah’s. The room was packed and action was crazy. There were enough $1-$2 and $2-$5 No Limit games to keep everyone happy. Even a $5-$10 NL popped up.

Yet, I was hanging out in the Eden Lounge with a few friends who came down from New York, and one who didn’t gamble. Since table games are out for me, the two of us walked around and hung out in the Lounge and Exhibition (a bar in the middle of the casino floor).

I can’t go into a casino and not play poker.

I’m not addicted, but the people on the casino floor are just too weird.

While in the Eden Lounge, a 65-year-old woman was dancing so hard and so much, I thought she would have a stroke before the end of the night. Worried can’t even begin to describe my feelings.




Eventually, her grinding on a few gentlemen made me burst from the Lounge.

Exhibition wasn’t any better. Perhaps a younger clientele, the amount of foolishness and debauchery was the same.

A Harrah’s employee (he had his nametag on) was working his magic on two women. He danced with the both the entire night, except for the time when he had to go back to work.

First, he danced with the chubby one while the skinnier friend shimmied next to them and rubbed her ass all over his leg. Then, he danced with the skinny chick and even picked her up while the chubby woman yelled, ‘Yeah, get her cowboy.’

I’m sure that wasn’t the last time she said that.

An older woman, probably in her 50s, was dancing with anyone who would let her. She was shaped like an upside down snowman. The big part was her boobs, the medium part was her bulging stomach and the other bump came from her FUPA (email me for what it means if you don’t know). Yet, she had the skinny, skinny legs.

After she was worn out, she sat in the lounge chair next to mine about five feet away.

She pulled out a matchbook from her purse and lit one of the matches.

“You see this,” she said. “I told this guy earlier tonight that I could put fire out with my hand, but he didn’t believe me.”

She takes her index finger and thumb, puts it over the match and turns it out.

“See, I can stop it with my hand. And you know why I do that because I have the power.”


It was 1 a.m. and I looked at my friend and said, “I’m going home.”

I learned Saturday night that people scare me. Sure, I see strange things in the poker room, but usually it’s always the same kind of weirdness and you get used to it after a while. People on the casino floor just have way too much to drink and way too much time to make fools of themselves.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Harrah's WSOP Circuit Event

The event kicked off tonight with the overflow having to fill up the regular poker room. I haven't gone over there, but I got a text message from a regular dealer who said they have to go to four tournament tables in a row on their string.


I love playing at Harrah's (minus the bad dealers) and I may find myself there again this week.

In other news, Borgata announced its Winter Open events. However, as one of our readers noted, the main event is no longer a WPT event and has been lowered from $10K to just a measly $3K.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Michael Phelps in Atlantic City

This is from the Casino City Times. I'm too lazy to rewrite it so I am just copy and pasting, but most importantly, attributing.

ATLANTIC CITY, New Jersey -- As reported by the New York Post: "Once soft-spoken Olympics champ Michael Phelps has turned into a party and poker animal.
"...A source says Phelps spent much of Thanksgiving weekend playing 10-20, no-limit hold-'em at the Borgata in Atlantic City. Although a dealer reports he lost several thousand dollars on Thursday, Phelps was back at the tables Friday.

"Phelps, who won more than $5,000 in a tournament at Caesars in Vegas, has spent his free time hanging with poker legends like Doyle Brunson..."

So, here was the joke.

My boyfriend: Do you know what a $10-$20 no limit game plays like?

Me: No.

Boyfriend: Neither does he.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Calendar Updated

I updated the calendar on the sidebar with the Trump Classic information.

Trump Classic Poker Tournament
Taj Mahal: Atlantic City
December 15,2008-December 31,2008

(All events are 2-days except where noted. Play will halt at 2 a.m. or when final table is reached, whichever comes first.)
Dec. 15 Mon. 11:15am No Limit Hold’em $300 + $50
Dec. 16 Tues. 11:15am 7-Card Stud $500 + $60
Dec. 17 Wed. 11:15am 7-Card Stud Hi/Low $500 + $60
Dec. 18 Thurs. 11:15am Omaha Hi/Low $500 + $60
Dec. 19 Fri. 11:15am No Limit Hold’em $300 + $50
Dec. 20 Sat. 11:15am No Limit Hold’em $500 + $60
Dec. 21 Sun. 11:15am No Limit Hold’em (Seniors Only) $300 + $50
Dec. 21 Sun.1:15pm No Limit Hold’em (Ladies Only) $260 + $40
Dec. 22 Mon. 11:15am No Limit Hold’em $300 + $50
Dec. 23 Tues. 11:15am No Limit Hold’em $300 + $50
Dec. 24 Wed. 11:15am No Limit Hold’em Turbo (1-Day Event) $300 + $40
Dec. 25 - No event.
Dec. 26 Fri. 11:15pm No Limit Hold’em $1,000 + $80
Dec. 27 Sat. 11:15am Act 2 Super (1-Day Event) $500 + $50
Dec. 28 Sun. 10:15am Last Chance Super (1-Day Event) $500 + $50
Dec. 28 Sun.3:15pm Main Event No Limit Hold’em (3-Day Event) $4,800 + $200
Dec. 29 Mon. 11:15am No Limit Hold’em $300 + $50
Dec. 30 Tues. 11:15am No Limit Hold’em $500 + $60
Dec. 31 Wed. 11:15am No Limit Hold’em Turbo (1-Day Event) $300 + $40

Visit ptseats.comto reserve your tournament seat now.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Monday, November 10, 2008

A.C. Casinos still taking punches

I was playing poker all week and the only place it seemed deader than normal was the Showboat. Caesars was going off because of the bad beat and Harrah's was just busy. However, I guess that doesn't always translate onto the floor.

I could only tell how the poker rooms do.

ATLANTIC CITY - Casinos reported $346.3 million in casino win in October, a 9.9 percent decrease over the same month a year ago.

Results reported to the New Jersey Casino Control Commission Monday show that the 11 casinos won $235.9 million at the slot machines and another $110.3 million at table games in October. Slot revenue fell 12.7 percent while table game revenues declined by 3.3 percent.

Casinos paid $27.7 million in taxes on their gross revenues in October. That money, 8 percent of gross revenue, goes into the Casino Revenue Fund which pays for programs that benefit qualifying senior citizens and people with disabilities. In addition, the casinos incurred another $4.4 million in reinvestment obligations. They are required to reinvest 1.25 percent of gross revenues in projects approved by the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority.

For the first 10 months of the year, casinos won $3.9 billion, down 6.6 percent from the same period in 2007. Revenue from slot machines is down 8.6 percent and revenue from table games is down 2 percent for the 10 months.

Win, or casino revenue, is the net amount of money won by casinos. It is not profit.
Copies of individual casino tax returns with detailed information on gaming revenues are available on the Commission web site at

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Bad Beat coming to Borgata?

I was on vacation this week and spent a lot of time at the felt. The two things I heard talked about were Caesar's bad beat, which I presume is up to around $260K if it hasn't been hit yet, and Borgata is getting a bad beat jackpot come December 1.

I played at Caesar's once and it's as bad as I remember it to be. The dealers don't run the games and, because everyone is a tough guy in a casino, more than one argument break out.

I'll have more to write later. Just wanted to update the latest information that I heard.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Borgata Lays Off 400

The Borgata laid off 400 employees in the month of the October. Here's an article from The Press of Atlantic City. This is just another example of how poor the economy is. Even the Borgata, one of the better casinos in the industry has to let people go.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Hilton Poker Room Closing

The Hilton poker room is closing and apparently I am really late on this. The bad beat at the Hilton is over 100K and when it hits, the poker room is going to close.

So, all you bad beat chasers, get out there and hit it. The room isn't going to be there much longer and the Hilton is begging for someone to hit it so that they can close the room.

What I learned from Manny Ramirez

I don't talk about my regular job too much because this blog is about poker. But, for those that haven't realized I'm a sports writer and spent much of my time covering different teams. I mostly cover college sports during the season and in the offseason, I do plenty of Phillies work.

This postseason, I was there everyday. It's how I ended up at the Commerce in California and how I didn't get to play cards while I was in Milwaukee. However, there was something that I kept hearing about great players that stuck with me. No matter which great player the common theme was "He's isn't afraid to fail."

Mostly I heard this said about Manny Ramirez. Joe Torre harped on this idea that Ramirez plays the game as though he knows he will succeed. He executes the way he is supposed to because even he the right result doesn't happen, at least he executed. Basically, he isn't afraid to fail.

I kept thinking about this. Mostly, I kept thinking about it applied to poker.

I'm a decent player, not great. I know there are plenty of places of my game that need work. One thing I always envied from other players was their aggressive nature.

I'm great when I have the nuts. I have no problem putting all my money in the middle then, but when I have a mediocre hand (let's not even talk about bluffing), I'm afraid to lose my money. This isn't always the case. I have made moves that I am proud of, but they don't come as often as I would like.

Last night, I played $1-$2 at the Showboat, which was dead because Caesar's bad beat jackpot is up to $211k apparently. I kept telling myself to think of Manny Ramirez, which sucks because as a Yankee fan, I really dislike the guy.

But there I was in a position to either not risk my chips because I was afraid or to make my moves. I finally chose to make my moves. I raised with A-Qd in late position to $10. It's rare that I raise with AQ at all because I don't like the hand. Losing money isn't fun so I just decided to always play it weakly.

I get three callers. The flop comes with two diamonds and all rags. Seat 1 leads into me for $25. I decided to just call because at some point I am going to pop this guy. On the turn he bets $30. Now, this is a shady bet, but one thing about my game is that I can read people. I am not talking about how he scratches his ear or looks away. There are other little things that add up and somehow I can sense where this guy stands. The board is nine-high and he had one of two hand son the flop: a set or medium pair.

On the turn, I decided he didn't have a set. While I should have popped the guy here on the turn. I just called again. On the river (no diamond), he makes it $30. After about three seconds and slowly counting my chips (I see him squirming), I make it $75.

He ended up calling after two minutes and says, "You have aces, right?"

Well, no. He had pocket Jacks.

I wasn't even mad about the hand. Two things that probably could have won me the hand was a raise on the turn or maybe making it $100 on the river. However, I was pleased with taking a shot there. I didn't think about losing my money to him. I was looking to work on my game.

I still ended up winning on the night, so I can't complain. I doubled up through a guy a few hands later. I moved all-in after he re-raised, my re-raise. I had pocket Queens and figured out through his "story telling" that he didn't have aces or kings. He had A-K and didn't catch.

It was a good night. Now, with a week off from work because I worked the last month, I am going to try and get in more poker.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Release: PokerPro Free Roll at Trump Plaza

Trump Plaza's 100% PokerPro(R) Poker Room will be hosting a $25,000 Freeroll No-Limit Texas Hold'Em Poker Tournament in December 2008. To qualify for a seat in the $25,000 Freeroll, players must play a minimum of 60 hours of cash/ring games in Trump Plaza's Poker Room between November 1st and November 30th.

The Freeroll will be held in Trump Plaza's poker room located in the East Tower and will begin at 10 AM onDecember 13th. Each player will begin with $12,500 in virtual chips. In the event that more than 110 players qualify for a seat in the tournament, there will be two rounds played on December 13th at 10 AM and 2 PM, with the final round to be held on December 14th at 10 AM. The first place prize is $10,000.

"By holding this tournament, Trump Plaza is rewarding their loyal players and providing incentive for newcomers to visit their poker room," said Randy Kiefer, PokerPro's Account Manager for Atlantic City. "The atmosphere is like no other in Atlantic City; once players are introduced to Trump Plaza's poker room, they are sure to become regulars."

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Borgata Poker Scam Artists Plead Not Guilty

Maybe they think they did nothing wrong or perhaps they can get away with scamming people out of lots of money. Maybe it's a good thing that they try to get out of this mess. Personally, I find it stupid that anyone would leave the safer confines of a regulated poker room and go up to someone's room.

Here's the latest article from The Press of Atlantic City regarding the idiots who went up to this room and how the defendants have pled not guilty. Good for them.

MAYSLANDING — The last of four defendants indicted earlier this month for allegedly organizing a high-tech gambling scheme at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa pleaded not guilty to the charges at an arraignment hearing Thursday.

James Harrison, 42, of Duluth, Minn., is accused of renting a room at the Borgata to host private, high-stakes games of Chinese poker, backgammon and chess along with Joseph Ingargiola, 51, of Las Vegas; Stephen Phillips, 53, of Las Vegas; and Steven Forte, 52, of Las Vegas , authorities say.

They rigged a nearby room with surveillance equipment and computers to cheat a high-roller out of tens of thousands of dollars, according to the indictment.

But shortly before the victim was to arrive, State Police searched the two hotel rooms, arrested the four men and seized the equipment.

The men were indicted by an Atlantic County grand jury Oct. 2 on charges of second-degree attempted theft by deception, state Attorney General Anne Milgram said.

Harrison’s attorney, James Leonard Jr., waived a reading of the indictment Thursday and entered a not guilty plea on his behalf before Superior Court Judge Michael Connor.

Ingargiola, Phillips and Forte all pleaded not guilty to the charges at an arraignment hearing on Monday. Ingargiola is represented by Jerry Elashmawi. Phillips is represented by Joseph Levin. Forte is represented by Stephen Funk.

Second-degree crimes carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in state prison and a $150,000 fine. Each of the defendants was released on bail after the June 7, 2007, arrests.

The indictment alleges the four men plotted to cheat a man, identified only as "J.H.," who was invited to participate in a tournament involving the high-stakes games in a Borgata hotel room. The four men allegedly rigged a second room with hidden surveillance cameras, audio equipment, computers and other high-tech devices that would be used to cheat the victim out of more than $75,000, according to the indictment.

The defendants allegedly intended to use the equipment to secretly monitor the games from the second room. The victim was to play an opponent who was part of the alleged scheme. The defendants allegedly planned to use marked playing cards for the Chinese poker so they could identify the victim's cards and transmit instructions to the opposing player, who would be wearing a concealed earpiece.

They also intended to use the equipment to monitor the games of backgammon and chess so computer programs could be used to calculate the countermoves that offered the best odds of winning, authorities said.

Deputy Attorney General Kerry DiJoseph of the Division of Criminal Justice Major Crimes Bureau - Casino Prosecution Unit, is handling the case for the state.

The attorneys are scheduled to appear in court Nov. 17 without their clients for a management conference, Connor said. The defendants and their attorneys will all appear in court together Dec. 1, he said.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

More Casino News: MGM Plans on Hold

There is more news coming out of atlantic City today about its potentional casinos. Now, MGM has decided to be its plans on hold because of sagging economy. Can't say I blame them because reports from a few people I know in the business have said the last couple of week have been horrendous.

Poker rooms have had few tables going and ones that are going, are short. Not fun times.

Here is the article from The Press of Atlantic City.

By DONALD WITTKOWSKI, Staff Writer, 609-272-7258
Published: Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Gaming giant MGM Mirage Resorts Inc. said today it is halting plans for a $5 billion casino complex in Atlantic City until the sagging economy picks up.

The announcement comes as no surprise and reiterates what the company told The Press of Atlantic City in August. At that time, MGM said it would postpone the start of construction at least until 2009.

MGM did not state how long it would delay the project in today’s announcement, which was made as part of the company’s report on third quarter earnings.

“We continue to believe Atlantic City represents an important market for further development,” Terry Lanni, MGM’s chairman and chief executive officer, said in a statement. “We intend to resume development at such time as economic conditions and capital markets are sufficiently improved to enable us to go forward on a reasonable basis.”

MGM planned to build an estimated $4.5 billion to $5 billion megaresort in the Marina District next to Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, which it co-owns with Boyd Gaming Corp.

Economy hard on Trump too

The economy has been rough on all of us. Donold Trump feels the weight of it too, agreeing to lower the sale price of the Trump Marina by almost $50 million. That's like a jet or two Trump won't be able to buy now.

Maybe that means there will be no poker room if Margaritaville ever comes into existence. Here's the story from the AP:

AP - ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. Sometimes the art of the deal calls for it to be redone.

That's what has happened to an agreement between Donald Trump and a former protege of his who's buying the Trump Marina Hotel Casino in Atlantic City.

Due to the worsening economy, both sides agreed to reduce the purchase price for the casino-hotel to $270 million, down from the $316 million they set as the price back in May.

Trump's company, Trump Entertainment Resorts, can also scrap the whole deal if it doesn't go through by the end of May.

Developer Richard Fields is teaming with singer Jimmy Buffett's business arm to re-brand the casino as "Margaritaville."

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Tropicana hosting holiday free roll

The Tropicana is hosting a $25,000 Holiday Free Roll Tournament on December 22.

To gain entry players must accumulate 120 hours of live poker play starting October 1, 2008 to December 13, 2008. Bonus Hours will be given Sunday thru Thursday from midnight to 8 a.m.

First place is a guaranteed $10,000.

With 1 to 299 players, winners will be awarded for 1st through 10th place and for 299 or more players, 20 places will be awarded. Players will receive $10,000 in tournament chips to start, with 30-minute rounds.

For more information contact the Tropicana Poker Room at 609-340-4000.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Commerce Trip Report

I’ve only been playing poker for three years. In this day, the learning curve is a lot quicker than it used to be with the amount of books and access to online poker. Me, I’m not one that’s big on theory. It may sound strange to someone who is an avid player, but I rely more on instincts and reads.

I do the whole pot odds things and calculate. I make certain knowing I am going to get paid off in the end, but I’ve always been more interested in the history of the game. Poker evolved from a back room, hustler’s game to a mainstream pop culture reference, which I am now a statistic.

While in Los Angeles, I had to take the opportunity to play poker. There are hundreds of card rooms in this great state and hearing the stories and history behind these places, I had no choice.

The tiny poker player in me was calling, tugging me toward the Commerce.

It was dingy, musty and probably moldy from the looks from it.

It was perfect.

Poker came alive in that room. There was history there although many of the players on the lower limit side weren’t thinking about that. They were flinging their chips into pots with greater than I have ever witnessed.

Now, revealing I’ve only played for the last few years, I’m not a bankroll where I play in big games. I’m still at the kiddie table, playing $1-$2 NL in Atlantic City. I didn’t know what that translated into in the structure in California.

I chose the $200 buy-in game because I always buy in for $200 in A.C. Apparently, these games aren’t on the same level. Their $1-$2 NL was a $40 fixed buy-in. Even if I had known that, I probably wouldn’t have jumped into that game anyway. A $40 buy-in doesn’t give you much room to work with.

$3-$5 blinds. That was the game I was in. A little over my head and lots of loose player, who apparently don’t care about theory either. Pot odds? To hell with that too. These guys were just interested in getting as much money into the middle of the pot and stacking chips.

Normally, in this type of situation theorist say the looser the game, the tighter. I ended up beating these guys at their own game while following my basic rules. I didn’t get my chips into the pot with a bad starting hand just because that was their move. I started with a decent holdings, I just made my requirements a little lower.

I was stuck in the game for $400 and down to my last $50 before I got the hang of it. A lesson learned quickly, but expensively.

Good thing Bluffmaster Deuce (he was sitting in the two seat) sat down. This guy was the easiest read on the game. When he had a hand, he bet roughly ¾ of the pot. When he bluffed, he doubled the size of the pot. If there was $40 in the pot, then he bet $80.

I got back to even on his bluffs alone. My pair of deuces? Way good when he bet $40 into a $20 pot. My open-ended straight draw when he bet $80 into a $40? Money.

Finally, after four hours of play, I got back to even. I planned to leave when the blinds hit me. However, while under the gun, I looked down to black Kings. I raised $25 (standard) and four people called me.


The flop comes 4-K-5, rainbow. But being in early position and lots of people behind me, 6-7 and 3-4 are definitely hands I see these people calling with. I bet $60, I get one caller. The turn is an ace. I bet $150, he mucks. Missed his open-ender he says. Awesome.

I went home up $150 after being stuck $350. I felt like I won $1,000.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Little things make me happy

Revel is building. The construction cranes are on site and, despite all the attempts from the local union to mess with it, Revel just keeps on going.

Now, I know for a fact that it is going to have a poker room. That makes me even happier. I'll enjoy having new places to play. Here are the paragraphs from The Press of Atlantic City article that put a a little smile on face this morning (I'm in Cali., it's still morning).

ATLANTIC CITY - Kevin DeSanctis stood in the middle of a vast, hectic construction site and began talking about things as though they already existed.
"We're actually standing in the middle of the poker room," he said, gesturing to an empty space on the lower floors of a hotel tower that eventually will rise to a breathtaking 700 feet. "Over there is the theater. And that's the casino."

It's still years away, but it will finally be finished, you can go from Revel to the Showboat to the Taj. There should be a poker room to your liking in the mix.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

My mission: The Commerce

I will be in Los Angeles until Thursday morning, so the plan is to get to the Commerce before I have to go home. There was time yesterday, but since I only slept for two hours before I had to catch my flight and I didn't stop working until I finally got to my room at 9 p.m. (ET), I passed out three hours, forcing myself to stay up that long.

Playing poker while tired is never a good idea. The plan is to head to the Commerce on Tuesday. Phillies and I have plenty of extra time. If we have to play a Game 5, Tuesday is still an off day and I will have plenty of time to get to the felt.

I haven't decided if I am going to NL Hold 'Em or Stud. Maybe, I will make a whole day of it and try a little of both.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The vote is in

Atlantic City Council votes to delay full smoking ban
Published: Wednesday, October 08, 2008

6:45 p.m. Update - ATLANTIC CITY -- An ordinance that would delay the implementation of a complete smoking ban on Atlantic City's casino floors passed on first reading by a 5-4 vote Wednesday. It must still pass on second reading, or the smoking ban goes into effect Oct. 15.
The casinos have been lobbying City Council to delay the full ban, arguing that it would further harm their bottom lines in a market already hurting from the state of the national economy. They say a full ban would send more customers to other casinos where smoking is allowed.
Public safety officials were limiting access to the council meeting earlier Wednesday after hundreds jammed council chambers to weigh in on the vote.


Wow, that's really disappointing. I hoped that the council would understand the need for workers in the casino industry and patrons to be able to breathe easy. This weekend, while in Milwaukee, I thought about playing a table game. Considered for a short moment when I couldn't get a seat in the poker room.

Besides hearing my boyfriend's voice telling me how stupid I would be if I played, the woman chain smoking next to the empty seat kept me away.

They think banning smoking is going to limit customers, but I know many who are going to come back to casinos because the smoking is gone.

Monday, October 06, 2008

I never even got on the felt

The Phillies altered my plan by losing on Saturday. With the sweep, I was going to spend my Sunday taking on the best player players Potawatomi Casino had to offer.

I got to the casino on Monday instead about six hours before my flight was supposed to head back to the East Coast. At noon, the lists were already at least 20 deep. The shortest was $4-8 limit, which was actually what I wanted to play anyway. I get my name on, I’m about 15 names down the list, and there is only one game. I ask one of the check-in people how long is the wait.

When she scrunched her face and gave the half shoulder shrug, I knew I was in trouble. Her answer: “it’s probably going to be a while.”

I don’t play other table games. At least I try not to because I want to keep my money. So, I walked around the casino for quite a while and reminded myself why I shouldn’t ever play table games. I watched people get snapped off left and right in three-card poker and blackjack. It’s a good lesson in saving your money.

After an hour, which I spent chatting with a friend on the phone, I went back to the room. My name was eighth on the list. There were several empty tables and no new ones had popped up since I was last up there. However, there were plenty more names on the board.

I am not going to argue how this poker room is run, but if someone can tell me why there are six or seven empty tables? Do they not have enough poker dealers? I didn’t understand it, and still don’t as I sit at Gate E-67 in the Milwaukee airport.

Another hour goes by of my aimless wandering. Now, I’m second on the list with four hours until my flight leaves.

One of the floor guys sees me staring at the board and asks if I want to go on the list. Well, I’ve been on the list for two hours and have seemingly gotten nowhere. To his credit, he was definitely nice and asked if there was another game he could get me on or if I wanted to play over someone on the $4-$8 game if they went to lunch.

While it was nice that he asked me if I wanted to play on another game, he was full of it. It was an empty gesture because every game had at least 20 names on the list. He wasn’t just going to jump me over everyone.

Instead of playing, I came the airport. That’s where I am now. No playing cards.

Hopefully, next week will be better. I’m headed to Los Angeles and the Commerce or another card room is in my sights.

Maybe the Phillies could do their job this time and take of the Dodgers in four. (Or Dodgers win in four)


Saturday, October 04, 2008

Casino smoking ban may be delayed (Atlantic City Press)

Casino smoking ban may be delayed
By DONALD WITTKOWSKI Staff Writer, 609-272-7258
Published: Friday, October 03, 2008

ATLANTIC CITY - Plans to make Atlantic City the first major casino market in the country completely smoke-free may be delayed amid warnings by Donald Trump and other gaming executives that it could devastate business.
City Council, at its meeting Wednesday, is expected to debate and possibly vote on whether to hold off having the smoking ban take effect Oct. 15. Mayor Scott Evans said he would be open to delaying the ban, but will leave the decision to council.
Evans noted that by postponing the ban, Atlantic City may be able to preserve jobs and protect the casinos from the nation's unfolding economic crisis. But he added that casino employees would continue to be exposed to the dangers of secondhand smoke.
Councilman Marty Small, whose ward includes five of the city's 11 casinos, said he has had discussions with gaming representatives about possibly suspending the smoking ban until the economy gets stronger.
"I have an open mind," Small said. "We have to do what is in the best interests of Atlantic City as a whole. Casinos pay 80 percent of our taxes and provide thousands of jobs for city residents.

"It is a sensitive issue on both sides," he continued. "We have to worry about the workers' health, but we also have an economic crisis in the country that has trickled down to this city."
Casinos are predicting the smoking ban will cause an additional 5 percent drop in gaming revenue on top of the 5.2 percent decline so far this year. The fear is smokers will flee from Atlantic City to Pennsylvania, Connecticut and other competing casino markets that allow gamblers to light up.
"The smoking ban will have a huge, negative impact on Atlantic City - beyond any competition, beyond anything," Trump said. "All we can do is to ask the council to reconsider."
Trump warned a decline in gaming business will translate into the loss of millions of dollars in state casino-tax revenue for social programs benefiting New Jersey's senior citizens and disabled residents.
"I just hope for the best. But the smoking ban itself will take tens of millions of dollars of taxes away and will take tens of millions of dollars of aid away from senior citizens and all of the things that we're doing," Trump told reporters Thursday after a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the grand opening of a $255 million hotel tower at Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort.
Trump said he has already received about 15 calls from friends who complained they will no longer take gambling trips to Atlantic City because of the smoking ban.
"If you're a smoker, you have a problem," he said. "I hope the City Council is able to reconsider. This isn't for Donald Trump. This has nothing to do with me. But senior citizens and all of the big beneficiaries of Atlantic City are going to suffer greatly because of this ban. It's the only place in the United States with a full smoking ban, and it's going to be a disaster."
Evans, who headed a delegation of city officials attending the ribbon-cutting ceremony, seemed to agree with Trump.
"I believe that Donald Trump has a legitimate concern," the mayor said.
Although the ban prohibits smoking on the gaming floor, casino customers would be able to light up in lounges that contain no slot machines or gaming tables. Most of the casinos plan to build indoor lounges, but Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa has said its customers will have to go outside to smoke in weather-protected enclosures.
Mark Juliano, chief executive officer of Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc., the company that operates the three Trump casinos, said the gaming industry is unified in its belief that the smoking ban should be delayed.
"I think the most devastating thing is, if they are still allowed to smoke at casinos in Pennsylvania, it puts us at a very competitive disadvantage," Juliano said.
Smoking is allowed on 25 percent of the casino floor under a local law that took effect April 15, 2007. Last April, City Council voted to completely outlaw casino smoking starting Oct. 15. The historic vote followed intense lobbying by anti-smoking groups and warnings from casino unions that gaming employees are constantly at risk of secondhand smoke.
Milton Rosado, who oversees political issues for the United Auto Workers union, which represents casino dealers, said the labor group will vigorously oppose any attempt to delay the smoking ban.
"It's about the health, welfare and safety of the workers. The right thing to do is to stay with the smoking ban," Rosado said.
Dennis M. Farrell Jr., a gaming analyst for Wachovia Capital Markets, said City Council may have to delay the smoking ban to allow casinos to adjust their business models to the economic slowdown. Otherwise, some casinos may go out of business, he predicted.
"We believe there is a high probability that the Atlantic City marketplace could see more than one casino close its doors in the next two years, unless the full smoking ban is delayed or state relief is provided to these properties," Farrell wrote in a note to investors.
E-mail Donald Wittkowski:

Monday, September 29, 2008

A night of grinding

God, I wish that meant something different. However, I spent roughly three hours playing at Harrah's on Saturday to grind out a decent win playing $1-$2. I don't like to talk about how much I actually won. I equate it with asking someone about their salary. It's just not call.

It took me an hour and a half before I won my first pot, but I don't really think about that as a problem. I spent that time watching and reading. When I finally entered a pot, at least two people mentioned how I haven't played many hands.

There's the first thing I knew I could exploit. If people are announcing that I'm playing tight, well I'll use it to my advantage. I just had to wait for the right moment.

It happened a little while later when I had A-4s in the cut off. Three people limp in before me and I eyed to the woman to my left who had chips in her hand. Seeing, I am going to get odds, I throw my money in.

The small blind raises it $12. Everyone who called before, calls now and the woman has $10 in her hand again. She was helpful all night. I knew if I was going to get odds on my money. I knew when she did and did not have a hand. It was because of her that I ended winning this hand.

The board comes out 8-3-4 rainbow. I have a silly pair and no spades come out, it's time to run away from the hand because of the big field. The initial bettor leads out for $15. It folds to me and I don't make a move right away, but the woman next to me folds out of turn.

The dealer mentions I still have cards.

The initial bettor looks at his hand and places it back down. I announce raise and pick up a stack of chips and just cut down to $35. There were few possible outcomes here and this was all the money I planned to put into the pot.

1.       He folds and I win.

2.       He calls and I know where I stand.

3.       He raises and I get the Hell out.

He picked option one and I picked up a small pot. The dealer gave me a funny looking because he knew that I had nothing. However, my nothing was still better than the SB's nothing. That was my whole night. I picked up small pots here and there and decided around midnight it was time to go home.

Work has taken over my life and today was my first day off in a week. I had a little bit of time on Saturday to play some cards, so I took advantage of it.

I have to travel for work and I was hoping for Los Angeles. I was going to check out a card room or two if I was sent out there. Instead, I am going to Milwaukee. If anyone knows anywhere to play poker in Milwaukee, give me a shout.

P.S. If anyone is looking for results of the U.S. Poker Championships. Head over to Card Player. The results for most of the tournament are updated. Sometimes it takes a while for them to show up, but at least the results are being posted now.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Cordish named lead bidder for Tropicana (Press of AC)

Cordish named lead bidder for Atlantic City's Tropicana casino
Press Staff Reports
Published: Tuesday, September 23, 2008

10:32 a.m. Update - ATLANTIC CITY - The Casino Control Commission today announced that the state-appointed trustee and conservator of the Tropicana Atlantic City Casino & Resort has entered into negotiations with The Cordish Company concerning its proposal to purchase the Tropicana for cash and securities totalling $700 million.

After conducting a thorough auction process, conservator Gary S. Stein and his investment banker, Moelis & Company, identified Cordish as a leading bidder for a number of reasons, including the price and consideration offered, as well as Cordish’s capabilities and track record of success in gaming, real estate development, and management. Cordish has indicated to Stein that it is prepared to move forward.

Under the terms of the proposed transaction, Cordish would acquire substantially all of the assets of Adamar, which consist primarily of the Tropicana Casino & Resort. Stein expects to ask the commission for approval to designate Cordish as the lead bidder, or stalking horse, in a Section 363 proceeding. The transaction is also subject to completion of a definitive asset purchase agreement, approval of the commission, and various other conditions.

The commission voted on Dec. 12, 2007 not to renew the Tropicana’s casino license, formerly held by Adamar of New Jersey. That vote triggered a trust through which Stein, a retired justice of the New Jersey State Supreme Court, controls the stock of Adamar. The commission subsequently named Stein as conservator. Title to all of Adamar’s assets was automatically transferred to the conservator and he was charged with selling the casino hotel complex while keeping it open and operating.

The Cordish Company is one of the largest real estate developers in the world with extensive expertise in gaming and lodging, entertainment and mixed-use projects, sports anchored developments, and retail, office and residential construction. Many of Cordish’s developments involve public/private partnerships, including The Walk in Atlantic City.

The Tropicana is one of the largest casino hotels in Atlantic City with 2,129 rooms and almost 140,000 square feet of gaming space. The complex is situated on approximately 14 acres of land with 220 yards of ocean frontage.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Vivek Rajkumar Wins Borgata Poker Tour

On the 48th hand of the night, Rajkumar won the Borgata Poker Open. It was in much better time than Wednesday's tournament day.

Here is the hand synopsis from the Borgata Poker Blog:

Vivek Rajkumar has the button. He raises to 550,000. Sang Kim re-raises to 1,050,000. Vivek re-re-raises to 2,500,000. Sang goes all in. Vivek calls. Vivek has Ad-Js and Sang has As-Qh. The flop is Jd-10s-7s and the crowd erupts! The turn is the Ah. The river is the 8s! Sang Kim finishes in second.

We're heads up!

The Borgata Poker Open is already heads up after close to three hours of play.

It took a full day to get from 27 to six and people are now dropping fairly quickly. You can catch all the live action at the Borgata Poker Blog. The faithful bloggers over there are giving updates hand by hand.

Here are the current heads up chip counts:

Vivek Rajkumar - 16,805,000
Sang Kim - 3,910,000

Have that poker itch?
Check out

2008 United States Poker Championships Results - Event #4

Event #4 - Omaha Hi/Lo 8 or better
Buy-in: $500+$50
Entries: 104
Prize pool: $52,000

1. Daniel Spear - $20,800
2. Gloria Lorusso - $11,960
3. Luigi Grilla - $6,240
4. Lawrence D. Samuelson - $3,640
5. Mark Rosenberg - $2,860
6. Glenn J. Engelbert - $2,340
7. Ferenc Molnar - $1,820
8. Michael B. Gabarick - $1,300
9. Allen K. Kessler - $1,040

Those are all the results I picked up today. If the Taj Mahal doesn't post the results on Card Player or anywhere else, I will make another trip there on Monday to pick up more results. 

2008 United States Poker Championships Results - Event #3

Event #3 - Seven-card stud Hi/Lo
Buy-in: $500+$50
Entries: 89
Prize pool: $44,500

1. Brent D. Keller - $17,8000
2. Frank Atney - $10,235
3. Terry Wells - $5,340
4. Jo Jo Curti - $3,115
5. Laurence Goldsmith - $2,670
6. Joseph Millman - $2,225
7. John E. Womack - $1,780
8. George E. Poore - $1,335

One more set of results coming ...  

Borgata Poker Open update

Day 4 finally ended at 1:30 a.m. this morning, giving the remaining six players just 15 hours to recharge and come back for the televised portion of the main event of the Borgata Poker Open, a World Poker Tour event.

Here are the final six with chip counts.

Seat 1: Vivek Rajkumar (Seattle, WA) - 6,400,000
Seat 2: Dan Heimiller (Henderson, NV) - 3,360,000
Seat 3: Andrew Knee (Mount Sinai, NY) - 1,475,000
Seat 4: Mark Seif (Henderson, NV) - 4,665,000
Seat 5: Jason Strochak (Ft. Lauderdale, FL) - 1,650,000
Seat 6: Sang Kim (Leesburg, VA) - 3,085,000

2008 United States Poker Championships Results - Event #2

Event #2 - Seven-card stud
Buy in: $500+$50
Entries: 51
Prize pool: $25,500

1. John Demeo - $10,200
2. Daniel R. Nicewander - $5,865
3. Danny F. Hofer - $3,060 
4. Pheldavone Peaseuth - $1,785
5. Marianne Preveti - $1,530
6. Gilbert M. Sacks - $1,275
7. Sidney Miller - $1,020
8. Charles P. Townsend III - $765

More results to come ... 

2008 United States Poker Championships Results - Event #1

Event #1 - Limit Hold 'Em
Buyin: $300+$40
Entries :103
Prize pool: $30,900
1. Wasyl Zaliwciw - $12,360
2. Kayid Shawish - $7,107
3. John E. Womack - $3,708
4. Lisa Treffinger - $2,163
5. Terry L. English - $1,699
6. Demetrios L. Georgous - $1,390
7. James Denino - $1,081
8. Phillip Yoo - $773
9. Kerry Small - $619
More results to come ...

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Day 4 still going strong

Just went over to check out the Borgata Poker blog for an update and learned that it's still going on tonight. They are playing down to six players for tomorrow's final table that is going to be taped to be aired later on FSN.

It is down to seven people.


I imagine that is what everyone is screaming in their minds. When they finally do get to six people, they will break until tomorrow. But there is no morning wake-up call. The remaining players don't have to return until 4 p.m.

In seat order, this is who is left:

1. Vivek "psyduck" Rajkumar
2. Dan Heimiller
4. Andrew Knee
5. Mark Seif
6. Jason Strochak
7. Sang Kim
8. John Myung


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Financial crisis could hurt the Tropicana

With the financial markets hurting recently, especially over the last week, gaming regulators fear that the Tropicana won't be able to find an owner, according to a report in The Press of Atlantic City on Wednesday.

The deadline to sell the Tropicana is looming. There is just one month left on the deadline, which has already been pushed back three other times. If that time comes without a hint of a buyer, the Trop could be sold in a bankruptcy auction.
The Trop isn't the only casino effected by the slow market. Pinnacle, which owns the former Sands property, razed the casino over a year ago and has yet to do anything more with the property. Pinnacle officials have said the shaky credit market has forced them to push back time lines for building the casino. Although, recently they have said they are committed to building the casino. All the billboards around town say so.
During tough financial times, casinos are going to be the companies that lose money. If people don't have money to lose, they aren't going to play (although that hasn't stopped some people in the past).

Poker tournaments have been a great way for casinos to get players. Take a $300 buy-in tournament. A person can win over $100K by taking home first place. That's a huge boost in the wallet and a massive upside based on the amount of money one puts into a tournament.
Winnings like that don't happen while playing craps or blackjack unless you're putting up the money first.
More problems are going to arise throughout Atlantic City has the economy struggles. Less gamblers means casinos will need less people to run the place. When layoffs and cutbacks begin to happen, then the Resort is really in trouble.

Upshall Raises Money for Charity in Borgata Poker Open (Press of Atlantic City)

Flyers' Upshall checks way to raise money for charity at poker tournament in A.C.

By SUSAN LULGJURAJ Staff Writer, 609-272-7187

ATLANTIC CITY - Scottie Upshall was in intense competition this week.

He had to figure out the right moves, what his opponents were going to do and then be in the right place at the right time.

The difference was the Flyers' right wing was competing in the main event of the Borgata Poker Open, a World Poker Tour event.

The Texas Hold 'em event had a $5 million guaranteed payout, the largest guaranteed prize pool of any land-based casino. The winner will receive $1.4 million on Thursday, the last day of the tournament.

The Borgata Resort Casino and Spa fell slightly short of the mark with the buy-ins and put in a little less than $50,000 into the pool.

"I really didn't know what to expect. I walked into the room here and saw all the tables," said Upshall, who borrowed poker player Lacey Jones' gold headphones to listen to music off his iPhone. "I am here for a great cause. If I can get in and win a little money for them, it makes the last few days more special. I felt nerves this week that I have never felt while playing hockey."

The Borgata paid Upshall's $10,000 buy-in ($9,600 goes to the prize pool and with $400 going to the house). Philadelphia contacted Scottie Hartnell first, but he was going to be away with his wife.

That's when Upshall jumped at the chance. He found the tournament a great way to combine his interest in poker with a way to raise money. Charities can't always rely on donations but have to come up with ways to draw attention to them.

Upshall finished 52nd out of 516 contestants, taking home $15,000 to split between the Flyers Wives Fight for Lives and the Kids Forever Foundation, which Upshall founded with the Ottawa Senators' Chris Phillips.

The scrappy right winger led the Flyers in penalty minutes (44) during the playoffs last season. Philadelphia made it to the Eastern Conference finals and lost in five games to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Upshall finished the season with 14 goals and 16 assists. He had three goals and four assists in three rounds of the playoffs.

"I am not here gambling. I am here just trying to raise money," Upshall said. "I mentioned it to a couple of players and said it was my first event. When I said it was for charity, they thought, 'Wow that's amazing;' I couldn't sit here for three straight days.' "

The partnership worked well for Borgata because the casino is always looking for ways to break into other markets. Getting a Philadelphia athlete to compete in the high-profile tournament, the Borgata is showing poker is for anyone.

Anyone can enter a tournament and have a chance at a title while taking out some of the best in the world. Poker isn't exclusive to those who have been studying the game for years.

"One of the big reasons is to bring it a little more mainstream," said Borgata's Ray Stefanelli, director of Poker Marketing. "We are very friendly with the New York and Philadelphia markets. One of the things we thought about is why not have someone have a chance to win $1.4 million for charity. What better thing to do with that money."

Upshall isn't a novice to the game, but it was his first live event. The 24-year-old plays with teammates Hartnell and Derian Hatcher on the road. It's a normal past time for the Flyers who spend much of their time on planes and trains.

Upshall rubbed elbows with some of the most popular poker celebrities and even pushed his chips around with 2006 World Series of Poker main event winner Jamie Gold, who offered to give him tips on the game and charity work.

"My dad likes to play. He has a card table back home," Upshall said. "We also get a pretty good game of the guys on the plane. It's nice to get a little competitive game of cards every once in a while. That's kind of when I started playing poker, when I turned pro."

Playing poker and playing hockey require completely different skills. While Upshall isn't being knocked on his backside or taking shots to his face while playing poker, the game requires a different level of concentration.

Upshall made it to Day 3 of the five-day event outlasting a huge amount of people. The days are long-lasting from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. On top of that, Upshall is the only competitor coming from an early-morning workout of skating on lifting weights.

"Poker is a game you have to sit down and take your time," said Upshall, whose friends texted him throughout the three days to find out his status. "I've learned a lot from the players here. You watch some of the players and things they say. I am going to take that back to my game with the boys."

Notes The U.S. Poker Championships, which last though Oct. 8, is going on at the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort in Atlantic City.

E-mail Susan Lulgjuraj:

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Day 3 of the Borgata Poker Open finished

Day 3 mercifully came to an end at the Borgata Poker Open around 7 p.m. This has been the earliest of the three days so far and everyone involved with the tournament is thrilled. The first two days were nearly 12 hours each with several small breaks and only one lengthy break.

The 69 that came back for Day 3 played until there were 27 left and then called it quits. They will come back on Wednesday and play until there are just six left. Those six will then play on Thursday for the television portion of the Borgata Poker Open that will be seen on FSN as part of the World Poker Tour.

Flyers' Scottie Upshall busted out in 52nd place and netted $15,000 for the two charities he is playing for, the Flyers Wives for Life and the Kids Foundation that he helped create along with a fellow hockey player.

Read the Card Player article on Day 3 here and if you need constant updates the guys over at the Borgata Poker Blog are doing a great job.

Here the chip counts heading into Wednesday as per the WPT.

Dan Heimiller - 2,870,000
Vivek Rajkumar - 1,756,000
Thayer Rasmussen - 1,413,000
Steven Levy - 1,317,000
Jason Strochak - 1,266,000
Nicky Frangos - 1,140,000
Andrew Knee - 1,091,000
Mark Seif - 1,087,000
Patrick Carney - 1,050,000
Stephen Vanauken - 1,009,000
John Myung - 946,000
Michael Binger - 718,000
Steve Dannenmann - 627,000
Ted Forrest - 607,000
Bobby Shasta - 606,000
Ralph Villela - 345,000
Christopher Baksh - 344,000
Vinh Nguyen - 336,000
Sang Kim - 316,000
Mikiya Takitani - 301,000
Randy Pfeifer - 288,000
Robert Toft - 269,000
Nam Le - 235,000
Kevin Lang - 209,000
Chris Arvanitis - 177,000
Natale Kuey - 175,000
Chris Bell - 165,000

Day 2 of the WPT Borgata Poker Open comes to a close

There are roughly 70 players remaining in the Borgata Poker Open after two days of action. Many of the more popular poker players got knocked out on the second day, but there are still many notables left in the field such as Ted Forrest, Joe Sebok, Mark Seif and Tiffany Michelle.

Flyers' Scottie Upshall is still in the hunt as well. He is playing for two charities and has made it to the Day 3 in his first live tournament. Upshall is used to playing with his teammates on the road. He doesn't play online nor does he play in the casinos. Not bad for his first time out.

Many of the players have their own views of Atlantic City. Check out the latest radio from They have an interesting view of the resort and, well, it's not the plushy image Atlantic City's old name gives it. These guys don't like to venture to boardwalk side of Atlantic City. However, I can't say that I blame them.

With the Eagles playing the Cowboys on Monday Night Football, many of the players were paying attention to the game. This allowed the Philadelphia haters and their obsessive fans to come out and show their colors. There were many talking about sports from that point, Nicky Frangos was giving his opinion on the New York Yankees, who won't be making the playoffs for the first time since 1995.

Keeping checking in with the Borgata Poker Open's own blog. The men on the scene are giving live updates with all the information you could possibly need.

Here's Card Player's recount of Day 2 with Julio Rodriguez reporting.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Upshall All-In for Charities (Philadelphia Daily News)

NOTHING LIKE PLAYING with house money, right? Flyers forward Scottie Upshall still has his seat after Day 1 of the Borgata Poker Open, which kicked off yesterday at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City. Upshall, 24, had his $10,000 entry fee waived by the Borgata. The catch? Upshall's winnings are being split between his two favorite charities: Flyers Wives Fight for Lives and Kids Forever Foundation, which Upshall founded with Chris Phillips from the Ottawa Senators.

"These are two great causes," Upshall said. "It's great to get to play poker with the pros and see what the World Poker Tour is all about."

Each of the tournament's 500 players, who Upshall said were "dropping like flies," began the day with $40,000 in chips. Upshall doubled his stack after the first five sessions. He is hoping that will carry him to the final table on Thursday.

"By no means am I the chip leader," he joked. "But I'm certainly not hanging on for dear life."
The winner's share of the $5 million prize pool is $1.4 million.

The tournament is good practice for the upcoming season for Upshall. Poker is a hit on Flyers' road trips. Bet on this being a little bit tougher than bluffing a pot off Derian Hatcher or Scott Hartnell.

Don't worry, Flyers fans. Even though he played poker for 8-plus hours yesterday, Upshall returned to Voorhees, N.J., for a workout session this morning in preparation for the opening of training camp on Saturday. *

- Frank Seravalli

Perhaps the Borgata does care. It's nice to see the Borgata support local charities and a fun way to do it. It gets to have a Philadelphia Flyer in its tournament while not actually having to donate any money.

It's a $5 million guaranteed and it got a little over that with the buy-ins. So waiving one player isn't going to hurt them. However, I wonder how many of the tournament players got in through satellites. I am not entirely sure how it works. Does the money from the satellites go into the prize pool as well?

Smoke-Free casinos are finally coming

The 100 percent smoking ban of Atlantic City casinos is coming – fast.

For anyone who has taken the Atlantic City Expressway over the last few weeks should have noticed the billboard along the way: “Breathe Easy Atlantic City.”

That’s right. Everyone should be able to breathe easier on Oct. 15 when the casinos become entirely smoke free.

This is a touchy subject for many people. Smokers feel they have a right to smoke. Proponents of the ban say casino workers and other players shouldn’t be tortured by second-hand smoke.

For the record, I fall into the second category. I don’t smoke nor will I ever. I developed asthma because of second-hand smoke. My mother smoked in our home all the time. She still smokes and caused a problem for my niece, who at two years old spent about a month on a nebulizer and in the emergency room because she had difficulty breathing. Her symptoms didn’t go away until my mother stopped smoking in the house.

Now, why would casino workers choose this job if they know the consequences?

Because, they need to work.

Why should casino workers be subjected to poisonous air?

Well, they shouldn’t. And as much as the smokers are going to complain about this one, I can’t wait for Oct. 15. I won’t have to hold my breath anymore as I walk to the poker room.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Day 1 of the WPT Borgata Poker Open Main Event

The economy is lagging, gas is on the rise again (although it never got low) and people are scrounging to find their last dollars. But don’t tell anyone at the Borgata about the economy’s downward swing.

The Borgata has had a great turnout for its Borgata Poker Open and 516 people registered for the main event, which is a World Poker Tour event that started today. The multi-table tournament costs $10,000 to enter, unless you are lucky enough to get in through a satellite.

However, plenty put up the cool 10K themselves, including plenty of notables that casual poker fans would recognize.

John Juanda was in the house. As were Joe Sebok (Barry Greenstein’s son), Mark Seif, Michael Mizrachi, Nicky Frangos and Beth Shak, who my boyfriend is sad he didn’t see her. These were some of the more popular players, although there were many local pros.

Flyers forward Scotty Upshall is playing in the tournament. According to the Borgata poker blog, Upshall doubled up and should at least make it to Day 2 of the tournament. The Flyers have been practicing in the early morning getting ready for camp, which starts on Saturday. Upshall is probably taking a small break before Philadelphia makes a run to get back to the Eastern Division Finals.

Today was the first day of the U.S. Poker Championships over at the Taj Mahal, which is just a quick ride from the marina. It started with a $300+$40 limit event and will continue through Oct. 8. Its main event ($10,000K) is from Oct. 5-8.

It will be interesting to see how well the Taj draws or if the people are just flocking to the Borgata.
Update: Here's Card Player's Julio Rodriguez's account of Day 1 of the WPT event.

Card Player TV of the Borgata Poker Open

Check out Card Player's first video from the Borgata Poker Open.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Borgata Poker Open Still Underway

Just wanted to let readers out there know the Borgata Poker Open is still going on. You can check out the action, which is updated live on the Borgata's Poker blog. There is tournament updates and little tidbits about the tournament in general. A little something for everyone.

For anyone looking for results of the tournaments, you can go to Card Player and check out the information for the tourneys that are completed.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Everyone plays poker, they just don't know it

For anyone who has played live poker in the past year, one thing you have learned is that poker is not cool. There are people who think they embody James Dean or Young Jeezy at the table. However, sitting behind a computer for hours creating a persona doesn’t make a new person when you’re at a table.

Playing poker doesn’t make someone any less and more intriguing (unless, of course, you’re a female. Men love that stuff). However, promoting a game that has been associated with degenerates and criminals isn’t going to help your reputation, especially to people who don’t understand the world of poker. (I was thinking about the recent article that Michael Phelps and Doyle Brunson have been in talks).

Despite poker’s mainstream emergence, there are many who view it as a bad habit or an addiction.

Those who just play poker (not the occasional gamers) and make a living out of it are not addicts. They are supporting families.

People who play poker and ship their money playing craps as soon as they get up from a game are just stupid.

However, countless people give me strange looks when I tell them that I play poker. The first question is always, “Are you good?”

My answer is always: “I get by.”

The next response is different and you can always gauge how they feel about poker.

First, there’s the overwhelming agreement that poker is fun and then you get to trade bad beat stories.

Second there are people who don’t understand the game, but think it’s “cool” because it’s on ESPN. They claim they play, which means lodging grenades into the $2-$4 limit game.

Then, there are those who absolutely hate the game and give you speeches about gambling. I’ve run into more of these people than I have realized. The rebuttal that poker isn’t really gambling and it requires skill falls onto deaf ears. They never want to hear about how you make perfect plays based on percentages and reads. They want to talk about the other 10 percent of the time when you are sucked out on or when your opponent has a two-outer and fills up.

What these people don’t realize is they make the same plays every day. They make choices in their lives based on the percentages (should I take an umbrella with me to work?). They decide whether to smile at the girl across the aisle on the bus based on how they read her (Does she look cranky this morning?).

Poker is life.

In this case, I’m just using money.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Blame Hanna

After doing more research on the impending storm, I realized my little sidequest to Mohegan Sun is not going to happen. Mapquest let me know that it was nearly two hours from my location, which would mean I probably wouldn't get there until 11 p.m. or so.

That would mean leaving at midnight (since I am just checking out the room). I could stop halfway to Atlantic City in New York with no problems. However, getting from NY to AC would be a problem with the terrible weather that is slated for the Eastern seaboard tomorrow.

I really want to check out this and I plan on doing it within the next two months. Now, having said that I am opening it up to the audience. Let me know what you want me to find out about the poker room. What sort of information are you looking for? I promise to get everything you need and will provice a detailed report of the room and everything it has (or doesn't have) to offer.

A Connecticut side trip

The Sr. Marketing VP of Mohegan Sun talked me into it. I was considering checking out the week-old, 43-table poker room and he invited me – along with the rest of the audience – to check out the new Tower of the Wind. That sealed it.

I’m working at the Basketball Hall of Fame this weekend and plan on leaving tonight to avoid Hanna, however, the drive South is going to take me right into the storm’s path.

I’ll only check out the room and rate it based on what I know, the Atlantic City casinos. I don’t on playing (but that could always change) because as far as game play goes, there shouldn’t be much difference. Poker in poker anywhere you go.

In one room you could have every table playing differently. It depends on the players.
Check back later for my take on the room at Mohegan Sun and, maybe, some shots from my camera phone.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Come on in, the water is just right

Poker isn't on the rise, but it's hardly dead, even though tournaments have seen player entries level off. During the huge poker storm, many people got swept up and now find themselves full-fledge card carrying members of the Texas Hold ‘Em Fan Club.

In the first tournament of the Borgata Poker Open ($300 buy-in) there were close to 1,200 eager students of the game hoping to get the top prize of $77,170. But the game of poker doesn’t just lure college kids who would rather bet at 20 simultaneous games than finish their midterm project or the retirees, who don’t want to sit in their house all day.

Celebrities joined the club a long time ago with notables such as Ben Affleck and Shannon Elizabeth popping up in various tournaments. The latest celeb with the poker bug is Michael Phelps, who needs no introduction.

According to, Phelps’ agent has recent been contacted by the World Series of Poker Europe for a sponsorship deal. The famed Olympian has been spotted playing Texas Hold ‘Em in various casinos, including Caesars Windsor in Ontario, which is close to where he trained at the University of Michigan.

Phelps is home in Baltimore now and doesn’t plan any intense training until next year. Does this mean a three-hour trip to Atlantic City in his future? With eight poker rooms in The Resort, Phelps has plenty of options from the Borgata, where the cool people go, to the Hilton, where the people wouldn’t know who he was if he had a sign around his neck.

If Phelps does become a sponsor for the WSOPE, it could have a negative impact on his other sponsors. While poker has taken off and is seen as part of the mainstream culture, there is still that sense that it’s a backroom game. There is still the gambling aspect involved.

What would the conservative public think of Phelps, the guy who wanted Frosted Flakes instead of Wheaties, if he promoted a gambling tournament?

By taking on this sponsorship, he could lose fans and hurt his bottom line as conservative sponsors would back away. He wouldn’t gain anything out of it (except the money) because poker players are cheap, just ask the waitresses who bring them drinks every night. Showing his face on WSOPE billboards isn’t going to draw more people to the tables. Especially not those who would continue to come back.

It's not poker that people want to beat him in, but as Phelps has shown nothing could crack his aces.

Borgata Poker Open Underway

The Borgata Poker Open, which is enormously popular here in Atlantic City, is underway this morning. You get all the updates that you need at the official Borgata Poker Open blog

Like always, I am sure they are going to bring all the action, and update as much as they can. It's 16 days of non-stop poker. If life were only this fun for all us. (Hint: Boys, if you're reading this, a cute brunette could use a side job).

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Borgata Poker Open Starts Tomorrow

The Borgata Poker Open kicks off its next installment starting Wednesday with a $300 + $50 No-Limit Hold 'Em tournament beginning at 11 a.m.

The tournaments will go on through Sept. 18 (I may play a little stud tourney next Monday).

Click here for the schedule of the tournament or check the calendar on the sidebar that has all the information you need.

For updates of the tournament, I will try to post any interesting information, but the Borgata usually has live bloggers on site that will give constant updates throughout the tournament. Once I get that link (I think it's this one), I will post more information. Even though, I won't be there (I am not paying $5 a day for parking), there are plenty of others who willbe on site.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Harrah's Atlantic City new daily tournament schedule

On Labor Day (tomorrow), Harrah's is rolling out a new tournament schedule that should be used until the end of the year, when they will re-evaluate the current format.

Harrah's is implementing more tournaments during the day. There will be four tournaments daily starting 10 a.m. Trying to fulfill everyone's needs, there are cheap tournaments, as well as a $500+$60 deep stack tournament on Saturday afternoon. On Saturday night, there will be a World Series of Poker Circuit satellite ($500+$60).

The players should enjoy the extra tournaments, although, expect to hear dealers grumbling. Every dealer in that room is going to be affected because dealers drop an average of .50 cents a down for tournaments. Yikes!

Included in the daily tournament lineup is a midnight madness tournament, which is so popular in Atlantic City that the Trupm Taj Mahal raised its buy-in and the Borgata got rid of it after a few month experimentation.

The $300 and $500 tournaments will have 30-minute blinds and the others will be 20 minutes.

Here's the schedule breakdown:
Sunday: 10:15 a.m. $40+$10
1:15 p.m. $68+$12
8:15 p.m. $68+$12
12:15 a.m. $40+$10

Monday: 10:15 a.m. $40+$10
1:15 p.m. $68+$12
8:15 p.m. $68+$12
12:15 a.m. $40+$10

Tuesday: 10:15 a.m. $40+$10
1:15 p.m. $68+$12
8:15 p.m. $68+$12
12:15 a.m. $40+$10

Wednesday: 10:15 a.m. $40+$10
1:15 p.m. $68+$12
8:15 p.m. $68+$12
12:15 a.m. $40+$10

Thursday: 10:15 a.m. $40+$10
1:15 p.m. $68+$12
8:15 p.m. $68+$12
12:15 a.m. $40+$10

Friday: 10:15 a.m. $40+$10
1:15 p.m. $68+$12
8:15 p.m. $300+$40
12:15 a.m. $68+$12

Saturday: 10:15 a.m. $40+$10
1:15 p.m. $500+$60 Deep Stack 12K
8:15 p.m. $500+$60 WSOP Circuit Satellite
12:15 a.m. $68+$12

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Another casino delays construction (MGM)

Another casino company is delaying construction. I will have more of an opinion on this later, but here is the article from The Press of Atlantic City. (Check out the sidebar for more information on the petition mess with the Revel casino project.)

MGM to delay start of Atlantic City casino project until 2009
By DONALD WITTKOWSKI Staff Writer, 609-272-7258
Published: Saturday, August 30, 2008

ATLANTIC CITY - Tight credit markets will force gaming giant MGM Mirage Inc. to postpone construction until 2009 on an Atlantic City resort that would mimic a multibillion-dollar casino and hotel development in Las Vegas.

Despite a delay in getting started, the company still hopes to complete the estimated $5 billion MGM Grand Atlantic City development by the previously announced 2012 grand opening, spokesman Gordon M. Absher said.

MGM will use the extra time to refine its designs and streamline the construction schedule to contain costs, though there are no plans to downsize the project.

"We're still enthusiastic and confident about the Atlantic City market. The project has not changed or been downscaled," Absher said Friday.

Absher confirmed what gaming analysts have been predicting for weeks - MGM will focus on completing the financing for its massive $9.2 billion CityCenter project in Las Vegas and take another year or two before breaking ground in Atlantic City. CityCenter has served as the inspiration for the Atlantic City project, although the Las Vegas development would be larger.
MGM is getting closer to working out the final financing for CityCenter, but the global credit crisis means the company will have to be patient to secure additional funding for Atlantic City, Absher said.

"The banks just aren't lending money, and these projects obviously require financing," he said. "It is a matter of the financial institutions being tight with money."

Casino companies have been delaying or killing projects outright in Las Vegas and other gaming markets because of the difficulties of borrowing money during the economic downturn. In Atlantic City, Pinnacle Entertainment Inc. previously announced it would hold off on redeveloping the old Sands Casino Hotel site for a megaresort, and the Atlantic City Hilton Casino Resort has delayed a proposed billion-dollar expansion.

Jeffrey Vasser, executive director of the Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority, said MGM's delay underscores the nationwide casino construction slowdown rather than exposing any particular problems with the Atlantic City market.

"This is more of a macro situation that we're facing," Vasser said. "When you look at the Las Vegas expansion projects, the Las Vegas properties are stopping in their tracks as well. I don't view it as any reflection on Atlantic City's growth."

MGM announced its project last October, before the credit markets tanked and while casino operators still were going gangbusters to build the industry's newest must-see attraction. At that time, the company said it would start construction in 2008 on a $4.5 billion to $5 billion complex featuring Atlantic City's largest casino and tallest building.

The project would include three hotel towers totaling more than 3,000 rooms, a world-class spa, a convention center and 500,000 square feet of upscale retail shops, restaurants and entertainment. One of the hotels would soar 800 feet high, easily dwarfing any other building in town. MGM's proposal for 280,000 square feet of gaming space would give it bragging rights for Atlantic City's biggest casino floor.

The development is planned on a 72-acre site in the Marina District next to Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, which MGM co-owns with Boyd Gaming Corp. Approximately 60 acres would be used for the casino resort, with the remaining 12 reserved for future development, possibly posh condominiums, the company said.

Absher stressed that while no construction will be done this year, the company is moving ahead with the planning and regulatory approvals for the project. One key piece of the regulatory process is MGM's pending application for a Coastal Area Facilities Review Act construction permit from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

MGM also anxiously awaits the findings of a lengthy New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement investigation into its partnership with the eldest daughter of Asian gaming mogul Stanley Ho for a new casino in the Chinese gambling enclave of Macau. Critics claim New Jersey gaming regulators should deny the partnership with Pansy Ho because of her father's reputed ties to Asian organized crime. MGM repeatedly has said it is doing business only with Pansy Ho, not Stanley Ho.

"We're confident that when they complete the investigation that everything will be fine," Absher said of MGM's belief New Jersey will approve the Macau partnership.

It is not known when the DGE will wrap up its investigation and make its recommendation to the New Jersey Casino Control Commission for a vote. The commission must approve the Macau partnership because MGM holds a New Jersey gaming license. If the commission turns it down, MGM likely would have to cut its ties to Atlantic City to concentrate on Macau.

E-mail Donald Wittkowski:

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Trump Plaza PokerTek Tourneys

Trump Plaza begins PokerTek Tournaments starting tonight!


I find it odd that Trump Plaza didn’t announce this sooner. Personally, I find it bad marketing that it was announced on the day that they started running it. However, the good news is that Trump Plaza is running free rolls, something you don’t often see in Atlantic City.

Nothing is given away free anymore, just listen to the slot players walking along the Boardwalk complaining about the lack of comps they receive. I read it in the paper, so it’s true.

Anyway, Trump Plaza started tournaments today on its PokerPro machines and will run tournaments through Sept. 5. According to the press release, players are invited to play in twice-daily $1000 free-rolls each day at noon and 8pm. Starting September 6th, a full tournament schedule will be in effect, with daily Hold'em tournaments at 11:30 am ($50+5) and 7:30 pm ($70+7 Friday and Saturday, $50+5 Sunday - Wednesday), and a $50+5 Omaha tournament every Thursday at 7:30pm. (I’ll update my tournament calendar eventually to include this along with the new Harrah’s tournament schedule).
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