WPT ready to hit the boardwalk at the Borgata

Poker Table

With only a few days off after simultaneous World Poker Tour and World Series of Poker Circuit stops in Tunica, Miss., the WPT storms into the eastern poker Mecca of Atlantic City for the $10,000 Borgata Winter Open on Sunday.

The preliminaries of the first major event in Atlantic City for 2008 have been well attended, to say the least. The first tournament, a $300+$50 No-Limit Hold'em event on Jan. 15, brought in a stunning 1,649 players, and other tournaments with buy-ins as high as $2,500 have seen well over 300 runners come to the line. The turnout demonstrates that poker is alive and well on the East Coast.

These preliminary tournaments have seen many notable names do well. Both Aleksandr "Alex" Bolotin and William Blanda, who have almost $2 million in tournament winnings between them, have won early tournaments and cashed in others. Two East Coast rounders, Joseph Cappello and Svetlana Gromenkova, have been active at the tables and could provide a challenge to those who take on the $10k championship events.

Finally, two members of last year's World Series final table, Hevad "Rain" Khan and Lee Childs, have also been playing and have cashed in the preliminary tournaments.

These are just a few of the names who've been in action so far in Atlantic City; there are sure to be a plethora of professionals in attendance at the Borgata. Players have historically enjoyed the structure of the tournaments, where they start with $20,000 in chips and slow levels that ensure there is a premium on skillful play.

The winners of the past two Borgata Winter Opens are prime examples. Since the wintertime stop at the Borgata became a part of the WPT schedule in 2006, professional players John Hennigan (the defending champion) and Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi have each won the title over sizable fields.

This year's tournament should have around 350 players, but that estimate could be a bit high, given the European Poker Tour's stop in Germany next week as well as concurrent tournaments in Los Angeles (the L.A. Poker Classic), San Diego (the WSOPC's Harrah's Rincon) and Las Vegas (the Venetian Deep Stacks tournaments).

Even with such a plethora of choices open to players, the Borgata Winter Open should have a very strong field. When the cards fly this Sunday, be sure to join PokerListings for all the action in the Live Tournament section as the WPT warms up the winter nights in Atlantic City.

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