Players Turned Away At Borgata’s First Major Live Poker Tournament In Years

The hardest two years in casino business are over and every provider is trying to make up for lost time the best way they can. For the management of Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, New Jersey, the 2022 Presidents Day weekend seemed like the perfect time to launch a come-back. 

Since the casino launched in 2003, it has been the cause for a complete life overhaul for thousands of players. Close to $440 million has been paid out as player winnings through tournaments during this time. After a long absence from the poker space, Borgata re-introduced poker in 2020 but nothing could happen over the pandemic influenced lockdown of the betting sector. 

Over the course of the Presidents Day weekend, it had been planned that a minimum of $200,000 will be paid out to the winner of the no-limit hold’em Presidents Day event that has a buy-in of $400. The event however kicked off with a rocky start when it was discovered that the demand had outstripped the venue space where the tables had already been set up. 

The tournament which had been scheduled for February 20 and 21 went on as planned; the first one started at 10:00 a.m. local time while the second, which was deliberately pushed back to allow latecomer to participate, started at 7:00 p.m. there was a massive line formation for the morning event and the likes of Jamie Giunta of New Jersey posted on Twitter describing the length of the queue. People had lined up all making a circle around the Old Homestead Steak House which stands on the opposite side of the street from the casino. 

With such a massive turnout of players, it did not take long for Borgata casino to announce that they had indeed sold out all the tickets. By late in the afternoon, both starting flights had been declared full and some players had to walk off hoping that they will be luckier the next season. This is a definitely a lesson for the management of the casino. Hopefully, Borgata will find a larger venue and have multiple starting flights to accommodate more players as they are clearly raking in the big casino bucks

As would be expected, players started expressing disappointed while still on the registration line. This is because there was already word spreading that the available tickets would not be enough for everyone. According to media personnel who were on site, players had started lining up to four hours before the bad news came to them. 

Looking at the alternate list of those who had been left out, it appears that a huge proportion of players were locked out. For those who had travelled from far to sign up for the event, it was double tragedy because they were tired, far away from home and with nothing to show for it. One such individual is Twitter user @HomieSenior who posted that he had taken a 3-hour ride just to arrive at the venue. Luckily for him, he weekend long wait paid off because he was able to get a seat but his stack quickly ran out. 

Obviously, even some of the players that made it past the frustration of the queue suffered the fate a severe short stack on the game. This has made some players even more upset because it means that they wasted more time on the line versus their level of fulfillment while playing. Also weighing in on the matter was Joe McKeehen who had clinched the 2015 World Series of Poker main event champion. His suggestion was that the casino should consider creating more space for its players or at least have more starting flights that would accommodate a lot more players. 

For a Massachusetts man who decided to sue the management of Borgata for wasting players’ time, the frustration obviously runs deep. The man makes a point in that the casino had all data available to them but failed to openly communicate this to their players. If for instance, they could have said that they only have slots for the first one hundred players, the rest would have left of stayed on voluntarily. People were eager to get in and Borgata failed them by hiding the true image of the situation. 

It is also a good idea for the casino administration to consider bringing back the WPTs as well as other series which players engaged in within the setup of the main event. Even though some players would still be left out of the main event, many would be consoled by the sea of activity taking place around the core action. Just looking at the number of people who were turned away speaks volumes as to the level of enthusiasm which customers wait for the annual championship. 

Ultimately, the number of players that were registered for the event was 1,000 but it is obvious that this number could have been easily doubled or even tripled had the casino created more room for players. With more tables, it means that the casino will have to hire more people to man them, creating employment in the process. 

Another credible content creator that has added his voice to the high demand versus what Borgata eventually offered is popular poker vlogger and WSOP bracelet holder, Ryan Depaulo. He shared a video that showed the massive length of the line in the early afternoon. 


Time is a valuable investment that many people have not mastered how to manage it to their own benefit. For those who are aware of their rights as consumers, it is saddening to stay in line for hours for a service or other commodity. It is no wonder that someone chose to sue Borgata casino for wasting valuable player time while they could have communicated early about the situation. It is understandable when demand surpasses supply but the seller has a responsibility to the seller to communicate to avoid people holding on to false hope.

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