Trump Taj Mahal closing on Sept. 5

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Just three months after reopening its poker room, the Trump Taj Mahal will close its doors to the casino after Labor Day on Sept 5.

Atlantic City’s iconic poker venue, which was solidified as poker’s must-see location in the 1998 classic Rounders, had high hopes for the reopening after closing in February 2015, with installment of new TVs and refurbished decor.During its prime, the Taj was the heart of the poker industry before the boom of the Chris Moneymaker era saw a proliferation of poker rooms open throughout the country, especially in the northeast.
It’s no secret the Atlantic City casino industry continues to struggle, and has since casinos and poker rooms opened in Connecticut in the 1990s, followed by properties springing up in Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland over the past decade.

Investor Carl Icahn bought Donald Trump’s casino operations out of bankruptcy in March, but now blames striking workers for the property’s inability to turn around its misfortunes.

SUGARHOUSE: The SugarRush Challenge is Sept. 21-25. See the details in the ad in the September issue.

PARX: The Big Stax 300 broke the East Coast record for tournament attendance, accumulating 2,557 entrants during the seven-day schedule.The five final players standing were Greg Weber, Tam Nguyen, Chad Rusow, Tony Cheng and Chris Horter.

Horter took home $90,556, a big chunk of the prize pool, along with the trophy, while the rest chopped the remaining sum. Horter, who was the 2014 New Jersey Online Player of the Year, has been under the radar as a live tournament player until this year.That’s not to say he hasn’t cashed or played any live poker.

“I definitely prefer to play online and probably play it 10-1 vs. live on average per year,” he said. “Of course, I will always play the big openers of all the various series. I do have some dusty wins in a couple of live dailies, but nothing that comes with hardware like this one to prove it.”
He admits he’s a product of the poker boom.

“I got into poker around the Moneymaker boom, playing poker rooms in the area,” he said, “but I’m still one who will be usually found in the room of the hotel grinding away on my laptop. In ’04, my dad would go around to different underground poker rooms a few nights a week during that time. I would play 25 cent-50 cent with some friends in house games in those days, occasionally organizing a $20-$50 house (tournament), which was always my favorite. It wasn’t really until 2012, however, that I was introduced to players who really showed me how little I truly understood about this game we play. Ever since then, I’ve been working to get better every day.”

And Horter always has been great in choosing live tournaments with the most value.

“I look at various factors such as field size and structure when deciding where to play,” he said. “but sometimes it’s more about being comfortable and happy, which for me recently has been staying close to home. … I mainly like to go for all the events that pay $50K-plus for $1K and under in this area. I will say there’s something that should be said about going to the places where not many pros go to increase your chance at grabbing the win if you get deep.”

He has earned $600K-plus in live cashes over the past nine years. Horter came close to winning the opener at the 2016 Borgata Spring Open, finishing third for $90,535.

Cheng, who chopped the BS300 for $65,575 in 3rd place, was also at the Borgata Opener Final Table with Horter where he finished 10th for a little more than $12,000.

“Horter’s a pretty good player,” Cheng said.“He’s obviously very experienced. Everyone agreed to chop.I didn’t mind playing it down, but who could say no to a nice payday with Chris at the table?”

Cheng has more than $180K on his poker resume.

“I will continue playing strictly poker tournaments,” Cheng said.“I’ve been playing the game since high school but really began to understand poker for the past two years.I’m still hoping for more of what’s best to come.”

BORGATA:  Joshua Gordon was crowned the BPO spring champion after four hours of playing heads-up against Paul Volpe, who had won the Borgata Winter Open for $356,255. Volpe had just come home after cashing in nine World Series of Poker events and winning a bracelet in Event 15 ($1,500 eight-game mix) for $149,943.His second-place Borgata finish paid him $189,103 to add to his $5.3M career earnings.

“I feel great about it,” Volpe said. “I’m happy to be running well.”Gordon, primarily a cash player, collected his biggest payout for $336,331, outlasting 557 entrants.

Mid-Atlantic

DOVER DOWNS: The Delaware Poker Championship runs Aug. 31-Sept. 5 with seven events. If you’re picking this issue up in time, the kickoff event ($115) is Aug. 31 with a $5K guarantee (11:15 a.m.). Sept. 1 is the $5K guarantee pot-limit Omaha championship.

The $100K main event has two Day 1s (Sept. 2-3) starting at 10:30 a.m., with a $560 buy-in. Day 1 will play to Level 14. Day 2 will start Sept. 3.

The $225 bounty championship is Sept. 2 (7:15 p.m., $100 bounties) with a $10K guarantee.

The turbo event is Sept. 3 (7:15 p.m., $75) with 15-minute blinds and a $5K guarantee.

On Sept. 4, the room runs its $115 deepstack championship (11:15 a.m.) with 25K chips and a $5K guarantee.

The $5K finale is Sept. 5 (11:15 a.m., $45).

MARYLAND LIVE: The World Poker Tour runs Sept. 23-Oct. 5 with 11 events and more than $2M in guarantees. The main event begins Oct. 1 and sports a $1.5M guarantee. See the ad on Page 7 of the September issue for the schedule of events.

Connecticut

Guy Smith beat 216 players to win the $1,100 championship of the Summer Kickoff at Foxwoods Casino in Mashantucket, Conn. The win paid $51,149.

A resident of Milford, Conn., Smith had nine cashes after the event. He has more than $132K in live winnings.
Nils Dahlin was second, a performance worth $25K. Playing out of Wilmington, N.C.., Dahlin has five cashes, including one at the World Series, in his career.

The third-place finisher was Joseph Cortese, who earned $22,494. Gerald Aiello, who was fourth, also took home $22,494. The cash was the fifth for Cortese, while Aiello has 25 cashes. From Winchester, Mass., Aiello has $108,452 in earnings.

Ricardo Sousa collected $12,630, the richest payday of his career, for finishing fifth. Of his five cashes, four have come at Foxwoods.

The total prize pool for the championship was $210,490.

Carmelo Schepis opened the Summer Kickoff with a win in a $400 event. He collected $51,543 for the victory, his first playing live. He has seven cashes, including five at Foxwoods.

Connecticut resident L.J. Sande, who was sixth in the championship, took second, which paid $32,487. Sande has six cashes and more than $53K in winnings.

Nicholas Fava pocketed $22,974 for third, while Sean Haley, who was fourth, took away $16,788.
Fava has four cashes, all at Foxwoods. Haley, from Massachusetts, cashed for the fifth time. Like Fava, all of his cashes have come at Foxwoods.

Steven Brackesy was fifth in the opening event, which had a prize pool of $304,532, surpassing the guarantee by more than $100K. There were 897 entries.

Brackesy, who lives in Waltham, Mass., was paid $12,665. The winner of Event 8 of the Foxwoods Poker Classic in March, he has 36 cashes and more than $381K in earnings.

Looking ahead, Foxwoods hosts the World Poker Finals, which has $15M in guarantees, from Oct. 1-17. The $2,700 main event has a $500K guarantee with two Day 1s (Oct. 14-15). The $600 opener, with three Day 1s (Oct. 1-3) also has a $500K guarantee. For more details and the series schedule, see the ad on Page 41 in the September issue.

New York

TURNING STONE: Michael Ferrer edged Nicholas Forgione to win the $570 main event of the Summer Classic and $12,868. Forgione got $12,086 for second, while William Darling collected $9,332 for third. There were 170 players in the main event.

Looking ahead, Turning Stone’s poker room hosts an October Poker Weekend series Oct. 6-9 , centered around a $100K guarantee event that had three Day 1s. The entire weekend will feature a variety of qualifiers for this tournament. See the ad on Page 38 of the September issue for more details.

Meet Nancy Martin

No other woman has as many tournament cashes at the Borgata and Parx casinos as Nancy Martin. She’s in the top 10 all time at both properties.

How did you get into poker tournaments? My son, Michael, is the one who got me involved in poker to begin with.He was one of the original online grinders when online poker first came into existence. … I would come home from work and I was able to watch him play from my home.He used to tell me his hands so that I could see how he played them. He then encouraged me to set up my own online account, which I did.

You seldom miss any tournaments with value in the region. Is there a schedule you typically follow throughout the year? I do have a full-time job as a Realtor in Bucks County, which I’ve been doing now for 30 years, so my poker schedule definitely revolves around my work schedule. Consequently, I don’t get to travel much, so my poker playing is limited to events at Parx, Borgata and SugarHouse. The one good thing about real estate is that a lot of my work can be done while I’m out of the office. Many times in tournaments, you’ll see me negotiating a deal while on break and I usually joke when I come back to the table that I just made final-table money on the phone.

How do you manage your bankroll? Since I have another job that supports my poker playing, my bankroll management is not as worrisome as someone who only plays poker for a living.That’s not to say that I’m willing to squander what I earn playing poker.I play in a lot of satellites to win seats into many of the events and, fortunately, my success rate in satellites and survivor tournaments is probably in the 80-percent-plus range.

If I’m not winning a seat, you’ll usually find me playing cash to win my buy-in before an event begins…. The more satellites they have, the more players they will get, it’s that simple. — Jo Kim