Sands expands, poker tournaments finally on schedule

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By Cris Belkewitch

It’s been a longtime coming, but the Sands in Bethlehem, Pa., is finally expanding.

Much has been made about the new poker rooms popping up in Atlantic City, but the Sands expanding to 30 tables from 27, this is another game-changer the Atlantic City-East Pennsylvania region. Why? The Sands has a new 300-room luxury hotel and will offer tournaments for the first time.

The expansion opening takes place the weekend of Feb. 19, a.k.a. Presidents Day weekend. So if you’re fortunate enough to have a day or two off then, make sure you visit the Sands since more tables means less waiting.

Low buy-in daily tournaments are a staple and quite popular with regulars. The addition of more tables and a long-awaited tournament schedule means the Sands is taking steps to ensure it’s doing right by its customers.

Poker room manager David Urie has mentioned in the past that he would like to do a tournament series, and now that the Sands has approved tournaments and a hotel, players and cardrooms on the East Coast should take notice.

New Jersey

The daily tournament grind in Atlantic City has seen a few changes for the New Year. The Golden Nugget is the new kid on the block offering four tournaments a day in its new luxury poker room, which looks absolutely amazing, and has plans for a few tournament series’ in the coming months. The Showboat has increased the starting stacks for all of its daily tournaments to 20K (from 15K), giving players more bang for their buck.

• The most interesting resolution heard at the table: to hit a piece a of a bad-beat jackpot. Michael Zinkin of Egg Harbor, N.J., has come close a number of times: “I’ve been at tables next to the table that hit; I’ve been stuck in a tournament when it hit; I’ve even left a table 10 minutes before it hit. (To hit one is) one of my goals this year.”
Atlantic City always has been full of bad-beat chasers, but this takes it to a whole new level.

“I’m not even going to play the Harrah’s casinos because I don’t want to just get a piece from being at another casino. I want to be at the table,” he said. The four properties under Caesars Entertainment (Caesars, Harrah’s, Showboat and Bally’s) have one centralized jackpot and all players seated at cash games across all four casinos share a piece of the jackpot when it’s hit.

“I met a guy that hit it twice,” he said. “I just want to be at the table and get myself a big piece. I feel like it’s coming this year.”

— Cris Belkewitch is the Ante Up Atlantic City Ambassador. A member of Team Bustout, his insight can be found at thepokerjourney.net.