Posts Tagged ‘Open’

Atlantic City’s Ocean Resort Casino Reportedly Set to Open June 28th

 Atlantic City’s Ocean Resort Casino Reportedly Set to Open June 28th

“Looks like we’re going to New Jersey to visit an accounting firm. That’s a shitty day.” –Terry Hoitz in The Other Guys

Ok, now I readily admit that this article has nothing to do with an accounting firm, but seeing as I am about to encourage everyone to visit New Jersey on June 28th, I couldn’t help but think of that quote and laugh. Oh, how I laughed. According to a report from the Press of Atlantic City, the Ocean Resort Casino is setting its sights on a June 28th grand opening. This is not only significant because it’s the grand opening of the Ocean Resort Casino (hello SEO), but also because it is the exact date when the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino will open. Methinks the Boardwalk is going to be rockin’ that day. Seriously, it might be a lot of fun.

The Press of Atlantic City was unable to officially confirm the target date, only hearing in an e-mail from Ocean CEO Frank Leone, “The Ocean Resort Casino Team is committed to opening this summer and looks forward to announcing its highly anticipated opening date soon.”

The June 28th date was taken from signed employment agreements which showed a work start date of June 11th and “anticipated” opening date of June 28th. Several employees provided the same documents to the Press.

One possible roadblock is that the Ocean Resort Casino has not actually been granted a license yet from the New Jersey Casino Control Commission. There are no hearings on the schedule and the Division of Gaming Enforcement has not issued a report. That said, the grand opening date is two months out so one would think that since the regulatory agencies have got to be in the process of reviewing the licensing application that it is fully possible a license could be coming soon. Assuming the dates on the employment agreements are valid, it would be odd if Ocean Resort Casino didn’t know that everything would be in place before June 28th.

Ocean Resort Casino is the former Revel, the gaudy $ 2.4 billion property that was supposed to rival the Borgata. It opened in April 2012 and was a spectacular failure, closing in September 2014. Shortly thereafter, it went through a screwy auction process in which Brookfield US Holdings won a bankruptcy auction for the Revel for just $ 110 million. The sale fell through in January 2015 and Glenn Straub, head of Polo North Country Club, was awarded the Revel by a bankruptcy judge for his original bid of $ 95.4 million. The Revel then cancelled that deal in February and then re-engaged in talks with Straub in April only to sell it to him for just $ 82 million.

Straub renamed the property TEN and in June 2016, Straub said he was going to reopen it with a small casino and loads of entertainment facilities, but it never reopened.

In January of this year, Bruce Deifik, the founder of Integrated Properties in Denver, bought Revel/TEN for $ 200 million with the full intention of reopening it this summer.

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Hard Rock Atlantic City to Open June 28th

 Hard Rock Atlantic City to Open June 28th

In a press conference Wednesday, Hard Rock International executives announced that the new Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City will open June 28th. Among the highlights the first year are almost 300 nights of live entertainment, including the likes of Blake Shelton, Amy Schumer, Stone Temple Pilots, Counting Crows, Florida Georgia Line, Steely Dan, and Frankie Valli.

“We think it’s a great start,” Hard Rock International Chairman Jim Allen said. “It demonstrates our commitment that we are about entertainment and not just about casino. But, certainly, we look forward to continuing to book more acts and even larger acts. There’s some amazing acts on that list, but, certainly, I think the best is yet to come.”

While I referred to the Hard Rock Atlantic City as “new,” it is actually the former Trump Taj Mahal, situated on the Boardwalk between Virginia and Maryland Avenues. Hard Rock International purchased the shuttered property, finalizing the sale about a year ago. The company is investing $ 500 million to get it refurbished, rebranded, and ready to go this summer. And yes, the iconic giant guitar will be prominently featured out front, though it has not been erected yet (permits, which have been procured, were needed before it could be done).

The Hard Rock will be a welcome sight to Atlantic City, which saw five casinos close from 2014 to 2016. 2014, in particular, was a disaster for the city, as Atlantic Club Casino Hotel, Showboat Casino, the $ 2.4 billion Revel, and Trump Plaza, all shut their doors. The Trump Taj Mahal closed on October 10th, 2016.

Of course, with all those casino closing went thousands of jobs.

“They’re going to hire 3,000 people, which we need. We lost about 11,000 in 2014, so this means more jobs for Atlantic City,” New Jersey Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo told News 12 New Jersey.

“You’re talking about over 5,000 full-time jobs,” added Matt Doherty with the Casino Reinvestment Authority. “These are union jobs with pension, health insurance for pay. Then there’s probably another 2,000 seasonal jobs for the summer as well.”

The Hard Rock Atlantic City will have 2,000 hotel rooms, more than 20 restaurants and bars, and a 120,000 square foot casino floor with 2,100 slot machines and 120 table games. The Taj was once the hub for poker on the east coast and was prominently featured in the classic poker film Rounders. It was even home to the live finals of the long-forgotten Online Series of Poker, created by the original owner of this website and which I, personally, was involved in organizing. It remains to be seen if Hard Rock will make an effort to attract poker players.

Hard Rock does already have plans to offer online gambling, which is legal in New Jersey. In February, it entered into a five-year agreement with Gaming Innovation Group (GiG) to be Hard Rock’s online gambling provider.

This will be a big summer for Atlantic City. In addition to the Hard Rock, Ocean Resort Casino, formerly Revel, will also open. No date has been announced for the Ocean grand opening.

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U. S. Poker Open Rolls Along with Little Fanfare

 U. S. Poker Open Rolls Along with Little Fanfare

The inaugural U. S. Poker Open is rolling along at ARIA in Las Vegas, with its $ 50,000 Main Event set to begin on Friday. The question is, though, if you throw a poker tournament and no one pays attention, did it happen? If you’re looking at this tournament, then it hasn’t happened as it has been going on with little fanfare.

The schedule was that it may have been very popular for the top professionals in the world. A collection of poker tournaments, none under a $ 10,000 buy in, testing the world’s best players as they vied against each other for glory. Looking at the individual events so far, however, there hasn’t been the horde of professionals (or deep-pocketed amateurs) swarming Las Vegas for the schedule.

The first event, a $ 10,000 No Limit Hold’em tournament, only drew out 68 ENTRIES, not players, for the event, which was eventually won by Justin Bonomo. What was supposed to be one of the more intriguing events, the $ 10,000 Pot Limit Omaha Hold’em tournament, only 64 entries were received (the tournament was won by Mike Gorodinsky). The numbers didn’t improve with a raise in the stakes, either.

The first $ 25,000 event, a No Limit Hold’em affair, brought 44 entries as Stephen Chidwick emerged victorious. Chidwick wasn’t done, however, as he came back in the very next tournament, the $ 25,000 Mixed Game Championship, and won it, too. Still, the 45 entries that came in for that tournament had to be a bit disappointing. The last completed event, Event #5’s $ 10,000 No Limit Hold’em tournament, saw 67 entries and crowned Ben Tollerene as the champion.

So, what has been the problem with the U. S. Poker Open, as it seems as if the same players are just sitting there pitching in their donations? First off, that is what has been happening as several players have taken part in every tournament and taken part in several reentries, such as Daniel Negreanu. What is happening, however is an example of perhaps some bad scheduling on the part of the U. S. Poker Open and Poker Central, which envisioned the tournament schedule.

Poker Central, together with its streaming channel PokerGO, is always in need of programming. There’s only so many times you can run repeats of past events (as Poker Central learned when they were trying to cut it as a cable network) until the viewers start to tune out. In the past, they’ve struck gold; the creation of the Super High Roller Bowl and last year’s Poker Masters series have both been well received by the poker community.

You can only go to the well so many times, however. The U. S. Poker Open seems to be contrived, unnatural, rather than something that organically grows. It was bad enough that there was already an event that was once called the United States Poker Open (I do wonder if Poker Central tried to get the rights to that name), but to put something up with a name that acts like there is so much gravitas to it without any history makes it appear it’s being jammed down people’s throats.

Then there’s the scheduling. The start of a New Year is ALWAYS crowded in the tournament poker world. Beginning with the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure through the Aussie Millions to the Borgata Winter Poker Open to the L. A. Poker Classic, there are a plethora of tournaments with long histories and a boatload of prestige and respect (and this isn’t even counting the mid-major league tournament circuits). If a player has a budget for tournaments, they’re more likely going to look at these established events rather than something that has no history to it.

So when would you schedule a prospective “U. S. Poker Open?” Well, there’s a lull in the last half of December. You want to influence the tournament poker scene? That would be the perfect spot for a 4-6 event series of high dollar buy in tournaments that would have an effect on Player of the Year races and, perhaps, set a player up nicely for the New Year.

Finally, there is that old poker adage of “sharks don’t eat other sharks.” Professional poker players aren’t going to go where they get the “greatest challenge.” They are going to go where the game is soft and the opportunity to make money is rampant. Thus, you’ll see pro players taking part in that 700-800 player tournament in the Bahamas or in Melbourne (and, if they fail, dive into cash games) rather than trying to outdo 40-50 other players who are just as talented as them in several $ 10K buy-in (minimum) tournaments.

Perhaps with time the U. S. Poker Open will become something. But it should be noted by Poker Central that the well is almost dry on this “High Roller” spree they’ve been on and they should consider some other options for programming (here’s one off the top of my head:  Poker House, a “Big Brother” type competition where 12 poker players are watched 24/7 as they live together, work together and…well, let your mind wander…with a tournament each week to knock off a competitor…or will they be knocked off?) When the U. S. Poker Open Main Event concludes on Sunday, will anyone really care?

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Eric Afriat Earns Second WPT Title in Coming from Short Stack to Win WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open

 Eric Afriat Earns Second WPT Title in Coming from Short Stack to Win WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open

Defying the odds by coming off the short stack, Eric Afriat earned his second World Poker Tour championship on Friday by winning the WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open in Atlantic City.

To say (and don’t groan) the deck was stacked against Afriat would be an understatement. He scraped into the final table with a 2.28 million chip stack and needed a telescope to see chip leader Zach Gruneberg and his 17.6 mountain of chips. There were also other obstacles for Afriat, including former World Champion Joseph McKeehen (5.955 million), Justin Zaki (5.565 million), Stephen Song (2.74 million) and local favorite Michael Marder (3.08 million), that he would have to overcome.

Things would get worse for Afriat from the start. After picking up some chips, he turned around and doubled up Marder to make his task more difficult. Afriat would rectify that by taking down Song in sixth place after flopping a boat against Song’s flush draw that didn’t come home. Afriat continued to be active on the felt as his chip stack fluctuated wildly as he tried to work his magic.

It would take more than 40 hands before the next elimination would occur and, when it did happen, the rich would only get richer in a stunner of a hand. After Gruneberg raised from the cutoff, Marder would call from the big blind to see an 8♣ 8♠ 6♣ flop. Marder would check-call another 300K out of the chip leader and, after a 5♠ on the turn, both players checked the straight possibilities. When the 9♣ came on the river, the fireworks would go off.

After checking the action on the previous two streets, Marder would suddenly wake up with a big 425K bet of his own. Gruneberg, however, was undaunted and moved all in over the top of Marder’s bet. Marder took a moment to ponder the situation, chucking a Time Bank chip into the hand, before making the call and showing his K♣ 3♣ for a King-high flush. That wasn’t good enough, however; Gruneberg turned up a 10♣ 7♣ for the stone nuts, the ten-high straight flush, to take down the hand and send Marder to the rail in fifth place.

At this point in the tournament, Gruneberg had nearly a 2:1 lead over McKeehen, more than a 2:1 lead over Afriat and a 2.5:1 lead over Zaki. It was going to be interesting to see who would come from the three pursuers to challenge Gruneberg, with any of the trio with enough experience to pull off a massive comeback. It almost turned out otherwise, however, as Gruneberg’ s “run good” continued.

On Hand 72, Gruneberg raised under the gun to 450K and McKeehen dropped his stack in the center from the button. Once again, Gruneberg wasted no time in making the call, tabling Big Slick to go up against McKeehen’s A-J (approximately a 70/30 edge). The Queen-high board never came close to giving McKeehen any options on winning the hand and, as he departed in fourth place, Gruneberg stacked up an even 20 million chips, more than his other two competitors had together.

That, however, would be the apex of Gruneberg’s final table. Over the next 20 hands, that 20 million in chips became 16 million as Afriat began to climb the standings. Just as quickly, however, Afriat would get knocked back as Zaki began to move up the ladder. On Hand 121, the tournament’s tide changed as Gruneberg’s mojo began to run out.

After raising the pot off the small blind, Afriat saw Gruneberg call his 525K bet and the resulting ragged rainbow 9-5-3 flop. As he had done the entire tournament, Afriat continued his aggressive play in firing another half-million pot bet, which Gruneberg called. On a turn four, another 750K came out of Afriat and, once again, Gruneberg called. The river seven put many straight options on the table, but Afriat continued to fire with a two million chip bet. Gruneberg, after a moment of pause, didn’t believe Afriat and called. He would then muck his cards as Afriat showed pocket sixes for a runner-runner straight as Afriat scooped the 7.6 million chip pot.

A few hands later, it was over for Gruneberg. Whether a slight bit tilted from the Afriat hand or what, Gruneberg pushed all in over a Zaki raised that Zaki wanted to see. Zaki’s pocket tens were ahead of Gruneberg’s A-9 off suit and the Jack-high flop didn’t do anything to improve Gruneberg. After riding high for most of the tournament, in the span of four hands Gruneberg was out in third place as heads up play was set.

After eliminating Gruneberg, Zaki was nearly a 2:1 leader (24.4 million) over Afriat (12.925 million). For almost 100 hands, Zaki maintained his lead but couldn’t lengthen it out. When the penultimate hand – the hand that truly determined the champion – came down, it brought the drama.

 On Hand 224, Afriat made it two million to go and Zaki moved all in. Afriat immediately called and tabled his Big Slick, which dominated Zaki’s K-8 off suit. That domination held through the 7-3-2-9-K board as the 34.8 million chip pot was pushed to Afriat. With only scraps left from that clash – 2.5 million – Zaki would succumb to Afriat on the very next hand, his 10-5 off suit falling to Afriat’s K-2 after Afriat miraculously went runner-runner in rivering trip deuces to beat Zaki’s flopped pair of fives.

1. Eric Afriat, $ 651,928
2. Justin Zaki, $ 434,614
3. Zach Gruneberg, $ 321,533
4. Joe McKeehen, $ 240,251
5. Michael Marder, $ 181,329
6. Stephen Song, $ 138,254

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2018 WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open Main Event Day 2 – A.J. Kelsall Leads on the Bubble

 2018 WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open Main Event Day 2 – A.J. Kelsall Leads on the Bubble

There were probably a whole bunch of players at the World Poker Tour (WPT) Borgata Winter Poker Open that didn’t sleep well last night, as 159 players remain in the Main Event with the payouts going down to 156 places. The short stacks have got to be wondering if they can hang on to at least come up with the $ 6,129 min cash. A.J. Kelsall is the chip leader heading into Day 3 with 768,500 chips, followed very closely by Chun Li with 755,000.

The tournament just missed out on beating last year’s record of 1,312 entries, coming in at 1,244. There were 343 entries on Day 1A, 680 on Day 1B, and another 221 through the first two levels of Day 2. The overall prize pool is just south of $ 4 million with the winner taking home $ 651,928.

The chip leader, A.J. Kelsall, is having a hell of a week. Not only is he leading a WPT Main Event on the money bubble, but he is also a die hard Philadelphia Eagles fan; in just a few days, the Eagles will be playing in the Super Bowl against the New England Patriots. The Eagles are underdogs, but they were underdogs in the NFC Championship game with their backup quarterback, as well, so how knows what can happen?

After Day 2, Kelsall talked Eagles with WPT.com:

I’ll tell you the saying that I have and it’s kind of funny. There’s only two things I want in life. An Eagles Super Bowl and a WSOP bracelet. Then whatever happens after that is fine. Somebody asked me that last week, when I came fifth in the [WPTDeepStacks] event down in Hollywood. And in that one, I said I would probably give up the win for the Super Bowl, but this one is so big. I flew up here and went to the game last Sunday and I have a flight Saturday night to go to the Super Bowl. That should tell you how big of a fan I am. If you sign me up for like sixth right now and an Eagles Super Bowl, I’ll take it. I’ll sign it.

Sixth pays $ 138,254, which would certainly buy a few hot dogs at the game (not that Kelsall will get up to go to the concession stand and risk missing any of the action).

According to TheHendonMob.com, Kelsall has just over a million dollars in live tournament cashes. His best was for $ 124,731 for a first place finish in the $ 1,650 No-Limit Hold’em Championship of the Winter Poker Open in Tampa. Hmm…Winter Poker Open…is that an omen? Hmm?

Kelsall told WPT.com that while he considers himself a good No-Limit Hold’em player, he likes other games better, but he continues to play Hold’em because the money is best in that game. A “jack of all trades” is what he calls himself.

“It’s cliche, but I think it’s true. I consider myself a B or a B+ in pretty much every game. An A in nothing, but I consider myself decent in every game,” he said.

Well, so far, so good with Hold’em. Let’s see if he keeps it going and gives himself an epic weekend.

2018 World Poker Tour Borgata Winter Poker Open Main Event – Day 2 Chip Leaders

1. A.J. Kelsall – 768,500
2. Chun Li – 755,000
3. Dan Colpoys – 590,500
4. Richard Foster – 587,000
5. Chase Bianchi – 568,000
6. Joe McKeehen – 548,000
7. Nick Jivkov – 529,500
8. Sean Remz – 512,000
9. Will Givens – 510,000
10. Stephen Song – 509,000

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