Sunday, January 26, 2014

Blog Gate 2014

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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Tweet This


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Parx Entourage


A look back at Kevin Dillon helping launch the 
Parx Poker Room in November 2010.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Borgata Summer Poker Open Pix

Favorite shots from the latest Borgata series: 

(l-r) Cathy Dever, Tyler Newhouse & Lisa Pickell 
Enjoying the 7 pm "All In or Fold Tournament"

Melad Marji 
Championship Winner 

Barry Leventhal (standing) Waits for 
John Mitchell to Make the Call

 Bernie Dominiak (right) Contemplates 
James Boyle's All-in Bet

Sean Ketter and a Mountain of Chips

Friday, October 14, 2011

Busy Weekend @ Borgata

As the Borgata Poker Open hangover wears off and junkies wait for the newly minted Fall Poker Open, this weekend is the perfect time to scratch the tournament itch.

The headliner is the $300,000 Guaranteed Deep Stack Double Play (Sun-Wed), but you can get ahead start on the action Saturday.

The next qualifier is 4 pm Saturday ($330 + $50), as 1 in 5 players will win entry into the $1,650 Deep Stack DP.

Also on Saturday is the usual 11 am tournament ($150 + $30), and one player is using the day to raise awareness for two medically incurable illnesses.

Dan Skodol (Denver, CO via New Jersey) is back on the East Coast to help fight Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis as he's pledging 100% of his winnings to the the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA).

"I have a personal connection with these diseases, as my younger sister has had Crohn's disease since a very young age," says Skodol, who's also raising funds as he trains for a half-marathon. "I'm hoping that the voluntary donations raised (Saturday) will help find a cure for these diseases."


On a personal note I have a good friend who suffers from ulcerative colitis and I've seen first hand how painful and debilitating the disease is. According to CCFA, approximately 1.4 million American adults and children have one of the diseases.

A quick internet research shows that many famous people have dealt with a form of these illnesses including Presidents Dwight Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy.

Others who are currently suffering with Crohn's or colitis include actress Shannen Doherty, Pearl Jam lead guitarist Mike McCready, and pro athletes David Garrard (NFL), Shayne Corson (NHL), and Theo Fleury (NHL).

Skodol is doing his part and accepting tax-deductible donations Saturday. You can spot him in the poker room wearing the grey Team Challenge training t-shirt.

Skodol & Sis

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Championship Event Recap

$3300 + $200 WPT Borgata Poker Open Championship NLH

Bobbi Oboodi - $922,441
WPT Borgata Poker Open Champion

A final table that featured two satellite qualifiers, a WSOP bracelet holder, and a trio of Borgata regulars comes down to the J♠ as it's Bobby's World for the WPT Borgata Poker Open Championship.

Bahbak 'Bobby' Oboodi (Morris Plains, NJ) is the last man standing in a record field of 1,313 entries as he takes down the $922,441 first place prize. "I'm just numb, the excitement hasn't hit me yet," said the 24 year old poker pro moments after winning the title.

"I feel like everyone else is more excited than I am, but I'm sure it's going to hit me later tonight when I realize I just won this tournament and nearly a million dollars."

Oboodi beat Jin Hwang (Gambrills, MD), a man who seriously doubted that he would make the final table and checked out of his hotel room on Day 4 before play resumed with 27 players.

"I'm so proud of myself, I think I did my best," said Hwang, who had no major cashes on his tournament resume, but pocketed $554,303 as runner-up. "I'm completely satisfied and happy with my play and ready to go on to the next tournament."

Heads up play began with each player holding at least 40 big blinds, but lasted only 18 hands. The J♠ was the key card that propelled Oboodi to victory on the final two hands.

On the penultimate hand, Oboodi hit a pair of jacks on the turn as his AJ bested Hwang's AQ to win a 10 million chip pot and extended his lead. The final blow comes when the one eyed jack hit the turn again giving Oboodi a flush and Hwang two pairs.

Oboodi had to sweat the river, but when Hwang missed his outs for a full house, the Borgata regular wins the championship with a queen high flush.

"My strategy for heads up was to small ball it. I didn't want to get into any big hands where I'm going to be put in marginal situations," he said while being congratulated from his rowdy rooting section, the Morris County Crew (MCC). "I was fortunate enough to make the flush against top pair on the last hand and it held up and here we are, champion."

Hwang, who didn't have any regrets on how he played the final two hands said, "I didn't think there was anyway he had a flush there," and that he expected Oboodi would have raised Hwang's flop bet with a flush draw. "He played it perfectly."

Hwang, the 56 year old self-employed financial agent, was happy to still be playing for a six figure cash as he was 27th out of 27 returning players on the final three tables with just 12 big blinds. But after surviving multiple all-in pots, he got a huge lift with quad jacks after his pocket hooks were dominated by the pocket queens of Will "The Thrill" Failla.

"That was the biggest turning point," said Hwang, who entered this tournament on a $400 satellite, "and that's when I thought I could do it. I was feeling comfortable and it was like someone was leading me to the final table."

When the final table of six resumed under the glare of the tv lights on Day 5, Hwang was once again the short stack with still only one dozen big blinds. But one by one, he moved up the pay scale.

The first to go was Ricky Hale (Cornwall, England), the other short stack, who turned a $100 satellite into $186,585 for his 6th place finish.

Darren Elias (Montclair, NJ), one of the three New Jersey players at the table, was 5th ($230,610) when his pocket jacks ran into Oboodi's pocket kings. The hand took Oboodi's stack to nearly 19 million and caused problems for Fred Goldberg (Hollywood, FL).

"I was sitting on Fred's left and he was put in a difficult spot being on my right because we were both chip leaders heading into the day," said Oboodi. "You really don't want to play too big of a hand out of position against the second chip leader. He was really unlucky with his seat because if he was on my left I'm sure I would have had just as difficult of a time."

Goldberg, a WSOP bracelet holder and the 10th place finisher in the 2006 Main Event, was frustrated throughout the day and finished 4th ($280,925) when he was out kicked by Oboodi on Goldberg's final hand.

Oboodi had more than half the chips in play while three-handed, as Hwang was second in chips and Daniel Buzgon (Marlton, NJ), the third local player, was third.

Hwang eventually knocked out Buzgon in third place ($335,433), setting up heads-up play, as the final two outlasted a world class field.

The tournament featured big names, bracelet holders and WPT champions. In addition to Failla (11th/$50,315), who was bidding to be the first back-to-back winner on tour and calls Borgata his "home" casino, notables who cashed in the $4,332,900 total buy-in included:

Jeff Madsen (60th/$11,740) 2x bracelet winner
John Racener (35th/$16,352) WSOP 2010 Main Event runner-up
David Williams (31st/16,352) WSOP bracelet
Vanessa Selbst (23rd/$18,868) - WSOP bracelet
"Miami" John Cernuto (14th/$35,640) 3x bracelet winner
Matt Glantz (12th/$50,315) who added to his nearly $4 million in career tournament earnings

In the end, Borgata is Bobby's World and with his new found wealth his goals are to play more poker and to start a business. "Poker is great, but I want to have some steady income that's not related to poker," he said while trying to figure out where he'll display the championship trophy.

Oboodi Celebrates with MCC

2011 WPT Borgata Poker Open Championship
Notable Participants


WSOP Bracelet Winners:

Robert Varkonyi (2002 Main Event Champion)
Allen Cunningham (5 bracelets)
"Miami" John Cernuto* (3 bracelets)
Jeff Madsen* (2 bracelets)
Matt Matros (2 bracelets)
Vanessa Selbst*
David Williams* (and WPT title)
Michael Mizrachi (and WPT title)
Gavin Smith (and WPT title)
Andy Frankenberger (and WPT title)
Fred Goldberg*
Kathy Liebert
Robert Mizrachi
Jason Young
Freddy Rouhani
Brian Lemke
Brock Parker
Ken Aldridge
Allen Bari
Mike "Little Man" Sica
Chris Bell
David Diaz
Hasan Habib

WPT Title Holders

Jonathan Little (two-time champion)
Cornell Cimpan (two-time champion)
Tuan Lee (two-time champion)
Will "The Thrill" Failla*
Yevgeniy Timoshinko*
Victor Ramdin
Lee Markholt

Recent Deep Runs in the WSOP Main Event:

John Racener* (2010 runner-up)
Chino Rheem (2008 Final Table/Inaugural EPL Champion)
Matt Affleck
Josh Brikis
Jerry Payne

* Cashed in this Championship

Final Table Results


Place-Name-Amount

1 Bahbak "Bobby" Oboodi (Morris Plains, NJ) $922,441
2 Jin Hwang (Gambrills, MD) $554,303
3 Daniel Buzgon (Marlton, NJ) $335,433
4 Fred Goldberg (Hollywood, FL) $280,925
5 Darren Elias (Montclair, NJ) $230,610
6 Ricky Hale (Cornwall, England) $186,585

Friday, September 23, 2011

Event 20: Day 3 Recap - Failla Leads

$3300 + $200 WPT Borgata Poker Open Championship

Failla "Thrilling" his Fans

Moving day had lots of drama and even more big pots as Borgata regular Will "The Thrill" Failla has the chip lead with 27 players left in the WPT Borgata Poker Open Championship.

"The sick part about it is, I don't think I knocked out one person all day," said Failla, who bagged nearly 3.3 million chips. "I just played a couple of big pots and don't remember knocking anybody out."

Failla is ahead of three players, Doug Kim, Ricky Hale and Darren Elias, who are all in the 2.5 million range, but some big names are lurking around the 1.5 million chip average (49 BB).

The list includes Matt Glantz, another Borgata regular, who has $3.8 million in career earnings, WSOP bracelet holder Vanessa Selbst and Fred Goldberg, along with three-time WSOP Champion "Miami" John Cernuto.

The list of recognizable pros who are on the rail during Day 3 of the tournament included two-time WSOP bracelet winner Jeff Madsen, who finished in 60th place ($11,740) and David Williams, who was 31st ($16,352).

"It always hurts when you get knocked out of a tournament," said Williams who was the 2004 Borgata Poker Open Champion runner-up to Daniel Negreanu and began Day 2 as the chip leader. "But now I get to go home to my family so that's a good thing."

Williams at one point had his chip stack up to 2.5 million, but he twice lost big pots with pocket aces, including one to Failla. He was also instrumental in breaking the bubble in a huge hand that cost Mark Bramley his final 450k and a spot in the money as he was eliminated in 101st place.

A king on the river gave Bramley a straight, but he was bested by Williams' pocket kings for a full house. You can see the hand details here as Bramley's elimination sent the remaining 100 players into the money for a minimum cash of $8,386.

The chip lead changed hands throughout the night as Dan Colman, who was involved with this controversial hand, and Joe Dittmar both had the lead at different points. But in the end it was Failla, who recently won his first WPT title, with the lead heading into Day 4.

"When you win your first WPT (title) it's a feeling you really can't put words on. I keep using the word surreal," says the New York native, who cut his tournament teeth at Borgata.

"For me to win it in my home casino that would mean more to me than anything else because my family will be here for it," he said. "It will make a big difference to me."

Failla and the other 26 players return 11 am Thursday to continue their pursuit for the Borgata Poker Open Championship and the $922,441 first place prize. The field will play down to the final six before returning Friday for the televised final table.

Number of Entrants: 1,313
Players Remaining: 27
Chips In Play: 39.3 million

Average Stack: 1.46 million (49 BB)
Big Stack: 3.255 million (109 BB)

Blinds: 15k/30k/3k ante (49 minutes left on level)

Total Buy-In: $4,332,900
First Prize: $922,441
Places Paid: 100

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Championship Event Preview

$3,300 +$200 WPT Borgata Poker Open Championship

Defending Champion Dwyte Pilgrim Back at Borgata

On the eve of the WPT Borgata Poker Open Championship Event there's a buzz about not only the $3 million guaranteed prize pool, but the extra $5,000 bonus for the chip leaders at the end of Day 1A and Day 1B.

"I think it's great," says Lee Childs (Alexandria, VA), who's itching to get back to the tables after his 9th place finish ($62,000) in last year's tournament, his deepest WPT run.

"But, it's not something that I'll have shot at," he laughed while figuring out how to approach the re-entry format. "Maybe if they give away $5,000 for a chip stack just below average I'd have a chance."

Players who bust on Day 1A have the chance to play Day 1B which has some of the bigger names thinking with a gunslingers mentality. "I'm using two bullets," says Will "The Thrill" Failla (Commack, NY) who last month won his first WPT title for $758,000.

A guaranteed prize pool, a re-entry structure, and a bonus for the Day 1A chip lead is the perfect storm for lots of action and great value for this $3,500 tournament with 30k in starting chips and 75 minute levels.

"I think you're going to see some wild swings in the intermediate and late stages of 1A," says Gordon Eng (Cliffside Park, NJ), who has a dozen career Borgata cashes, including a 2010 win for $73,000. "The bonus gives guys incentive to be aggressive, especially knowing they can fire two bullets if they need to."

With eleven days of play and nineteen Main Events leading up to the Championship, big names have already been playing at the Event Center gearing up for a title run, including defending champion Dwyte Pilgrim (Brooklyn, NY).

"I'm here to shock the world again," says "The Short Stack Slayer," who took down the biggest win of his career with his $733,802 payday.

Last year's 1,042 players was the biggest in WPT history and with names like Allen Cunningham (5 WSOP bracelets), Gavin Smith (WSOP bracelet) Jeff Madsen (2 WSOP bracelets), Jonathan Little (2 WPT titles), and WPT title holders Victor Ramdin, Roy Winston, Failla and Pilgrim all confirmed for the event, another record setting day is right around the corner.

Pilgrim After Winning the Title and $733,802

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Deal or No Deal

Borgata Poker

 Mary Beth Dealing at Borgata

One suitcase contained $1,000,000, the other $25 when Mary Beth Salmieri got one final offer from the banker on the hit game show Deal or No Deal.

"I truly believed I had the million," says the 28 year-old, "but I had to take it," she says when offered $341,000.

Salmieri knew it didn't matter what was in case #13, because a guaranteed 6-figure payday would be life changing. Her poker sense was to lock in the guarantee instead of rolling the dice and ending up with only $25.

In the end Salmieri's instincts were right, as her lucky number held the $1,000,000 which she sold to the banker for one-third of the amount. "I was heartbroken," she said when they opened the case and it revealed the show's top prize.

Salmieri's, thrill of a lifetime happened in 2008 and money was just part of it.

 Mary Beth & Annie Duke
Photo Courtesy: NBC

During the show's three hour taping, pro player Annie Duke made a guest appearance to help sweeten the pot and experience, "I had no clue," says Salmieri, who listed Duke as one of her poker idols during auditions.  "My mouth dropped when she walked out, it was completely surreal."

Salmieri, who was named Holtzheimer at the time, says she was the only person picked out of 10,000 hopefuls who tried to impress the show's producers in Center City Philadelphia. Her spunky personality and goal of taking the show's winnings to start a poker bankroll were enough to land Salmieri on the show three months later.

Salmieri was picking off cases one-by-one when Duke appeared and tempted the Deptford, New Jersey girl, who now calls Los Angeles home. The banker's offer was a total of $158,000, which included a $25,000 poker package featuring private lessons from Duke.

But Salmieri yelled, "no deal," as she slammed closed the Plexiglas flip-top box. She stayed the course until Salmieri was down to three fateful cases, which you can watch in the clip below.

In the end, Salmieri didn't take home the $1,000,000, but she did become friends with Duke who gave Salmieri lessons and helped launch her poker career.  "She taught me a lot about the math and odds and bet sizes," says Salmieri, who is competing in the Borgata Poker Open.

"I don't regret it," Salmieri says about taking the banker's deal, "but I wouldn't go as far as saying I would make the same decision if I had to do it all over again." Adding that Duke compared it to poker where, "it was the right decision at the wrong time."

Since winning big on the show, Salmieri gave up her job as a retail manager and is now a part time wedding planner and a "professional amateur" when it comes to poker.

Which all sounds like a great deal.



Deal or No Deal 
March, 2008

Friday, June 24, 2011

Borgata Summer Poker Open - Hooked on Borgata

$2500 + $200 Championship NLH

Hook2120 On-line at Borgata

Chalie Hook cut his teeth playing poker at Borgata when the room first opened in 2003, since then he's grown into an elite player.

"I love playing Borgata it's convenient, it's close to home," says Hook, a Philadelphia native, who's playing in the Borgata Summer Poker Open Championship Event. "I started playing $2-$5 no-limit and mixed a lot of live and on-line through college when I was around."

Hook, a Holy Family University grad, eventually moved to Florida and hunkered down to grind high stakes cash games as screen name Hook2120.  But that all changed on April 15th, internet poker's black Friday when the FBI essentially shutdown U.S. players from playing on-line.

"It sucks," says the man originally named Charles, but even his mother drops the "r' and calls him Chalie. "Playing live isn't my first choice, but it's what I have to do."

As he sorts out his future, Hook doesn't mind returning to his roots and playing in the Summer Poker Open.  "I think I have over $100k in earnings, probably more than that, at the Borgata lifetime," says Hook, who in 2009 alone scored $31,000 for winning the Borgata Summer Open Heads Up Championship and another $57,000 for a second place finish in the Borgata Winter Open.

"Borgata's been good to me. Most of my earnings have been at Borgata," he says with $226,000 in live career earnings.  "I love the Borgata, the structure, the people here are great."

While Hook isn't a household name like Phil Ivey, Daniel Negreanu and Phil Hellmuth, he's earned himself a name among the top on-line players. Guys like Olivier Busquet, the 2009 WPT Borgata Poker Open Champion and Hook's good friend Tom Marchese, the 2010 CardPlayer Player of the Year.

"Definitely top players in the world know who I am. I've played with them live and on-line," says Hook, who's been having a tough day and still has his 30k starting stack at the dinner break.

"There are guys like Tony G (Antanas Guoga), he plays here on weekends and is a mid-stakes grinder on-line. I think he's probably one of the best players in the world and not everybody knows who he is. I'd say the same thing about Marchese, two years ago he was one of the best players in the world and nobody knew who he was."

After playing here in the Championship Event, Hook plans on meeting up with Marchese in Vegas to play in the WSOP Main Event.  He'll then decide if he wants to move to Europe where he can fire up the computer and play the game he loves, legally, on-line.

"It'll be a different experience moving away and I'll probably do it."  But wherever Hook plays, he'll always call Borgata home and know this is where his poker career began.