The $3 Million Guaranteed WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open Championship event gets underway this Sunday, January 31st at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City. Seated among a large field of would-be champions, you’ll find New Jersey resident Vinny Pahuja proudly wearing a BorgataPoker.com patch. If Vinny looks familiar to you, it’s not just because you might have dined next to him at Fornelletto, one of Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa’s exceptional restaurants. Most likely, it’s because you’ve seen him stacking his way to victory in countless Borgata Poker Open events for the good part of a decade.
“I’ve been coming to Borgata for live events since 2008,” says Vinny from the tournament floor of Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa. “I don’t think I’ve missed a major tournament in seven or eight years. I’ve always loved the product. I spend so much time here throughout the year that everyone from the floor staff to the dealers are like family. Everyone is so welcoming that there’s a nice comfort level every time I play at Borgata.”
If describing an Atlantic City casino and the people behind the poker room as family sounds a bit bizarre, take a look at Vinny’s tournament success list and his sentiments start to make a whole lot of sense.
Most recently, Vinny, who has won nearly $2 million playing live poker, finished 60th in Borgata Winter Poker Open’s event #1, a $2 Million Guaranteed Deep Stack NLH tournament that saw 5,101 entries compete for a $2,550,500 prize pool. But that’s just one notch on Vinny’s Borgata bedpost.
Vinny’s top tournament win came back in the 2008 Borgata Summer Poker Open when he finished 2nd for $289,000. He also notched a first place victory in September 2014 in the Borgata Poker Open’s $1,500 No Limit Hold’em tournament for $58,491. That win followed his April 2014 first place finishing the Borgata Spring Poker Open’s $1,000 No Limit Hold’em tournament for $43,648.
I’ve been playing poker full-time for a decade now and am truly blessed to make my living doing something I genuinely love to do. When I go more than a few days without playing I often start to crave the action even after all these years. It also gives me a level of freedom that just can’t be found with most jobs, something that I’m constantly reminded of as I watch my fiancée work long hours with little vacation time as a new attorney.
The only thing that was missing for me after I had settled into my career as a professional poker player was a sense that what I was doing was important and that it was serving a real purpose in society. I’m not claiming that I was going to be a Nobel Prize winner had I not chosen poker, but I’d like to fancy myself as someone who’s smart enough that I was going to have some impact on the world.
And so the Charity Series of Poker (CSOP) was born.
When I was Vice President of my collegiate chapter of Habitat for Humanity, I talked a company into donating a television and a few other prizes for the $10 re-buy fundraiser poker tournament we established. We raised almost $1,000 and had a great time doing it. Fast forward several years to today, where we are doing the same thing on the poker tour with the help of some of the biggest names: poker pros, celebrities, and the finest poker venues in the country.
Congratulations to our 32 winners from the BorgataPoker.com Heads Up Invitational Freeroll Tournament on Sunday, January 24, 2016
The answer to that question probably isn’t what you would expect. So what is the first thing a poker player does after winning a million dollars?
You get to take pictures. A LOT of pictures. Pictures of you alone, pictures of you with the trophy, pictures of you with money, pictures of you with the dealers and floor staff, pictures with family, pictures with friends, pictures with WPT sponsors (in this case Monster headphones and Hublot), and pictures with anyone else who wants a picture.
I honestly didn’t think of it nor expect it. It took a bit of the intensity off; and by the time I was done with all the pictures and interviews the initial shock had at least initially worn off. The next thing to do is an obvious one: Celebrate!!!
After blowing off some steam and relaxing for a bit, I headed to the beautiful Bobby Flay Steak at Borgata. About 20-25 of my good friends, family and a few acquaintances gathered together for good food and good times. After that, we headed to a pool party with the gang. Most of us ended up in the pool, and while none of us ended up sober, no one got out of control. In fact, it was one of the best nights of my life – which just so happened to cap off the best day of my life, and I’ll never forget it!!
I am fortunate to play the game that I love at some of the best venues in the world. Poker has also provided me with many incredible opportunities. This year I had the amazing opportunity to help prepare a man for the self-proclaimed “biggest moment” of his entire life (he’s allowed to say that since he doesn’t have children and isn’t married).
Neil Blumenfield, an enthusiastic 62 year-old poker amateur who is known for his signature fedora, had just been let go from his job and was wondering what direction his life would take him when suddenly he found himself third in chips with nine players left playing for $7.7 million at the final table of the WSOP main event. Although it was obviously a dream-come-true for him, he knew that he was going to be up against much more experienced opponents playing for millions of dollars. Blumenfield immediately set out to find the right people to help prepare him for this final table battle.
I didn’t know Neil before he found himself in that position, but two years prior our mutual friend Amir Lehavot was also fortunate enough to find himself in the same position of having a big stack and playing in what is nothing short of a poker player’s Super Bowl. Amir came to me to help organize a live simulation of the final table at my house in Las Vegas, where we replicated the stacks of the players at the final table and did our best to mimic the plays we thought each player we were representing would make. We would show our cards after each hand and have a group discussion about the hand with several of the top poker pros in the game. Amir ended up finishing in third place and winning $3.3 million that year. He said the “live sim” helped him predict some dynamics that would develop, strategize and counter-strategize, and made him feel a lot more at ease when he returned to play that November.
It’s no secret that BorgataPoker.com enters 2016 as the #1 online poker site in New Jersey. Ongoing promotions like The Grind coupled with frequent leaderboard competitions and contests have made choosing BorgataPoker.com over the competition a no-brainer.
But as impressive as Borgata’s online offering is, it’s what’s happening at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City that’s pushing more and more players to shuffle up and deal on their Macs, PCs, smartphones, and tablets.
New Jersey’s top live casino is home to five Borgata Poker Open events each year that have attracted players from all over the world — including big names like Daniel Negreanu, Anthony Zinno, and Jason Mercier.
There’s the Borgata Spring Poker Open (April), Borgata Summer Poker Open (June/July), Borgata Poker Open (September), and the Borgata Fall Poker Open (November). Kicking off each year is the Borgata Winter Poker Open (January 19 – February 5, 2016).
The 18-day live tournament series features millions of dollars in prize money, including the live-streamed $3 Million Guaranteed WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open Championship, live streamed $2 Million Borgata Winter Poker Open Deep Stack kick-off event, a $1 Million Borgata Winter Poker Open Deep Stack event, and more. It’s arguably one of the most anticipated live poker series of the season and BorgataPoker.com has tickets to all three big events.
Starting January 4th, online poker players can snowball a $5 online poker entry into a seat in a live tournament with multi-million dollar prize pools this month. Or perhaps seats — multiple seats — just like Asher Connif, a poker player who won his Borgata Spring Poker Open seats online and conquered not one but two tournaments at Borgata in Atlantic City. More on that in a minute.
First, let’s talk about the future — one that’s going to include a record number of online poker players from BorgataPoker.com seated in several events at this year’s Borgata Winter Poker Open. BorgataPoker.com has put together a daily qualifying schedule to help funnel more players into the live series:
Players earned Tournament Leaderboard Points for participating in qualifying BorgataPoker.com online tournaments during the month of December and earned Tournament Leaderboard Bonus Points based on cash placed finished, buy-in amount and total number of tournament entries. Congratulations! The top 30 place finishers won monthly leaderboard prizes, and the top 500 place finishers for the December 2015 Tournament…
We’ve got a great reason to break out the champagne on New Year’s Eve and it has nothing to do with winning the nightly $10K GTD.
By playing with us between December 23rd and 29th, you could win up to $2,000 Bonus Dollars. Just log in to your BorgataPoker.com account during the promotional period and opt in to the $10,000 Holiday Sweepstakes promo under the Promotions tab.
Opting in gets you your first entry and you can earn more entries by playing real money poker at BorgataPoker.com. For every 20 iRewards Points you collect, you’ll earn another entry into our December 30th drawing. You can earn up to 10 entries per day.
One lucky player will win $2,000 Bonus Dollars, plus we’ve got $8,000 more in Bonus Dollars for another 199 winners. We’ll let you know what you’ve won on December 31st, so you could end up with way more reason to celebrate on New Year’s Eve.
It’s holiday time and this Sunday we’re giving you the gift of bigger prize pools.
On Sunday, December 20th, we’re pumping up our $50K Sunday Major with $50K more. Come play for a piece of $100,000 in our No Limit Hold’em tournament at 5pm. The online poker tourney features one re-entry, so if you bust out you can jump back in with a fresh chip stack.
While the guarantee has changed, the buy-in hasn’t. You can still get in for $200+15 or through a low buy-in satellite, just like every Sunday.
If you need to boost your bankroll for the Sunday $100k, you can take advantage of a 100% bonus up to $300. Use bonus code RELOAD1215 by December 19th to earn the bonus.