The World Poker Tour made its annual Atlantic City stop in September for its ultra-popular Borgata Poker Open, and once again the series was full of record crowds, historic moments and lots of cash. The series kicked off with a $560 buy-in $1 million guaranteed re-entry event, which drew an East Coast tournament-record 3,705 players, creating an insane prize pool of $1,852,500. Benedetto Bianco (Franklin Square, N.Y.) took home the trophy and cashed out $309,196 for first place.
History didn’t stop there as for the first time in Borgata history there was a back-to-back winner. Brian O’Donoghue (Bayside, N.Y.) took down a $400 no-limit hold’em event on Sept. 11 for $50,132 and followed it by winning the $230 deepstack for $51,588 the next day. Not a bad couple of days of poker for Mr. O’Donoghue.
The main attraction, the $3 million guarantee televised main event, which had a $3,500 buy-in, was a home run. The Borgata has made a habit of drawing more than 1,000 players in recent years for its WPT stop and the 10th installment was no different, seeing its fourth straight 1,000-plus field with 1,181 entrants, swelling the prize pool to nearly $4 million. In the end it was Ben Hamnett (Pittsburgh) who saw his name inscribed on the Champions Cup to go along with the $818,847 payday. It was no easy victory for Hamnett as he found himself up against former WPT champion Steve Brecher, World Series of Poker bracelet-winner David Diaz and Ofir Mor, who finished third in this event in 2010, at the final table.
Other notables with deep runs were Ante Up’s Lee Childs (14th), 2009 BPO runner-up Jeremy Brown (15th) and five-time WSOP bracelet-winner Allen Cunningham (41st). With the WPT and Borgata finding so much success together over the years, it was announced during the stop that the Borgata Winter Open would become a WPT-branded event with a live stream for the final table.
PHELPS FOUNDATION: While the final table of the WPT Borgata Poker Open was taking place, there was another noteworthy tournament playing out in the marina. Harrah’s hosted the Michael Phelps Foundation charity tournament. The atmosphere was fun and festive and Phelps was on hand to prove that just because he’s the best swimmer in the world doesn’t mean he’s a fish. For more information on the Michael Phelps Foundation, visit michaelphelpsfoundation.com.
— Cris Belkewitch is the Ante Up Atlantic City Ambassador. A member of Team Bustout, his insight can be found at thepokerjourney.net.