Saturday, January 21, 2012

Inside the Rail

Jen Shahade, a writer, entrepreneur and games player who is providing her insights from the Borgata Winter Poker Open. She is a two-time American Women’s Chess Champion and a contributor to

After my experience at the Borgata Winter Poker Open kickoff event, I don't plan on missing many of these big guarantees in the future.

The excitement in the room during the kickoff is palpable. You see pros who are planning an entire series worth of tournaments to dreamers who took the day off specifically to play for such a sky-high first prize ($165,053 in this case).

Jen Shahade

There was one man at my table, who appeared to be playing his first tournament. His version of a poker face was an ear to ear grin for the entire day. His cheeks must have hurt by the first break!

This particular tournament was a $560 re-entry. I was prepared to fire a second entry if necessary, but I also saw that when the re-entry period closed the starting stack would still be 50 big blinds deep, so I thought there was a very good chance I wouldn't need to.

Speaking of which, it’s better to not let your own intentions on re-entering obvious to the table. A player ready to re-buy will be perceived as bluffier in the early levels. By the same token, it's very valuable to find out if the players at your table are willing to re-enter or not. I have to admit I poked around a bit myself, but tried not to be too direct/obvious about it.

I ended up grinding a short stack for a few hours, picking up small pots, but not enough to keep up with the blinds and antes. I made it through the dinner break and as I detailed here was disappointed that I didn’t get a crack at the $956,500 total buy-in (which was nearly double the $500,000 guarantee!)

Still I had a lot of fun at the tournament and it was great to see so many familiar faces, including the winner of the event, Will "the Thrill" Failla.

If you aren't sure about which event to play in an upcoming Borgata series, I highly recommend starting with one of these kickoff guarantees. Come in the night before, register early, slurp some delicious noodle soup and most importantly, avoid the morning lines :)

As for my own plans, I'm playing the $400 re-entry Saturday and the Ladies $400 deep stack on Sunday. I'm also excited that my dad is coming in to play Monday's Senior's Event. If you see me, come say "hi."

Meanwhile, I'll continue to update my own progress here at @BorgataPoker and on @jenshahade. Wish you all lots of #rungood throughout the Borgata Winter Poker Open.


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