East Coast re-emerging as a poker powerhouse

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By Cris Belkewitch

The eyes of the poker world are focused on the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas for the next couple of months. The East Coast, however, will be hosting its share of action during poker’s busiest time of the year. Not everyone who plays can make it out to the WSOP and thankfully Atlantic City will make sure they too can get their poker tournament fix.

The Borgata will be kicking off its Summer Poker Open on June 8 in what promises to be a great East Coast alternative to the WSOP. The Summer Poker Open is scheduled to run June 8-24. Get the schedule specifics at theborgata.com and be sure to block off those dates on your calendar.

As is standard operating procedure with the Borgata’s “players first” approach, the poker room took to the Internet to get input and feedback from their players on what they would like to see included this year. One thing is for certain: The main event has a whopping $500,000 guarantee.

Over on the boardwalk the Trump Taj Mahal has added a $1,000-max buy-in $2-$5 no-limit hold’em game that has been received well by the players. It’s a juicy game with a lot of big pots as players look to increase their stack to well above 200 big blinds to optimize their play. Next door at the Showboat players continue to give positive reviews to the staff for a well-run room with many interesting things possibly on the horizon.

PENNSYLVANIA: With the WSOP Circuit stopping at Harrah’s in Chester, Pa., the poker rooms were swamped with action. Harrah’s boasted a packed room spreading games for all comers. At its high point during the middle of the series there were four $10-$25 no-limit hold’em games running with close to $300,000 spread across the four tables. As if that wasn’t enough high-limit action, a $200-$400 mixed game was sparked at Parx one night mid-series as well as a $75-$150 limit hold’em game.

With higher limit games starting to run on the other side of the Ben Franklin Bridge as well as the ones still running in Atlantic City, the East Coast is slowly increasing its profile as a poker powerhouse again. With reports of high-limit games drying up in the Las Vegas dessert the Atlantic Coast could continue to see growth in this area over time.
With a major tournament series finally hitting in Pennsylvania surely players will want more. Given the turnout at the cash tables during the series it would seem like a wise play to get the ball rolling on a late summer-early fall tournament series.

Poker on the East Coast has seen an ebb-and-flow balance over the years. Before the boom poker was huge along the Atlantic and while it grew in the immediate wake of the Moneymaker effect it hit a rough patch for a while with the exception of the Borgata.

Now with Harrah’s Chester and Parx picking up steam and bigger games being added to the board the East Coast is once again positioning itself as a poker mecca. With Black Friday causing many online players to look elsewhere for a game the East Coast’s re-emergence has come at the right time for poker.

— Cris Belkewitch is a professional poker player and writer from New Jersey. A member of Team Bustout, his insight can be found at thepokerjourney.net.