It's going to be a record-setting weekend in Atlantic City, N.J. And no, it's not because of the temperature or the number of mob hits.
The Borgata Poker Open at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa is set to offer up a guaranteed $5 million as one of the crown jewels of the World Poker Tour kicks off today.
That money will likely be cut up among a record number of participants, as nearly 1,200 players turned up to start things off. For organizers, that's a great sign.
"We're hoping [the tournaments] keep growing, and we're always trying to run them better than before," John Arthur, poker manager for the host Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, told a local newspaper.
"The potential for Atlantic City is untapped. We have a big drive-in market. The World Series draws in big numbers."
Already a large number of well-known local players and big-name poker pros have been spotted. These include Mike Sica, Al Krux, Tom Coan, Tony Salerno, Davidson Matthew, Eugene Todd, Dale Pinchot and Lou Russo, as well as 2006 World Series of Poker Main Event champion Jamie Gold.
That's the kind of draw that people like Borgata's president and chief operating officer were hoping for.
"This is big stuff," said Larry Mullin. "We want to let everyone know this is the tournament to play in. Our goal is to keep growing it and to attract players from all over the world."
As for the action at the table, if previous years are any indication there's bound to be fireworks.
In 2004 Daniel "Kid Poker" Negreanu took down the top spot and more than $1.1 million by whipping Bodog pro and former porn star David Williams heads-up. They were joined at that final table by both Josh Arieh and arguably the best player in the world, Phil Ivey.
Last year's winner Roy Winston tackled Heung Yoon heads-up and added a whopping $1.6 million to his bankroll. He had to be sharp, as Mike Matusow was running well and put up quite a fight at the final table before exiting in third.
Winston has continued to play well and hopes to be the first back-to-back champ in the event's history.
"On Sunday I'm off to Borgata and I can't wait," he wrote on his Web site. "I will play a few of the preliminary events and of course the main event."
The final table will be broadcast on Fox Sports Net.
"The World Poker Tour has a track record as the ultimate brand name in televised poker," said George Greenberg, FSN executive vice president of programming and production. "FSN is very happy to televise such quality content and we look forward to future programming opportunities with the WPT."
The remainder of the WPT schedule for season VII is as follows:
- Oct. 10-16 - North American Poker Championship
- Oct. 20-25 - Festa al Lago
- Nov. 5-11 - Foxwoods World Poker Finals
- Dec. 13-19 - Doyle Brunson Five Diamond World Poker Classic
- Jan. 16-19 - Gulf Coast Poker Championship
- Jan. 25-29 - Borgata Poker Classic
- Feb. 28-March 3 - L.A. Poker Classic
- March 7-9 - WPT Celebrity Invitational
- March 16-20 - Bay 101 Shooting Star
- April 4-9 - Foxwoods Poker Classic
- April 18-25 - WPT World Championship