New Yorker Takes Borgata Tournament by Storm - Tuesday 24th of January 2006

ATLANTIC CITY, New Jersey The first event of the inaugural 2006 Borgata Winter Poker Open is finally under wraps. On the first day, 1,319 players came to see action, but in the end, only one survived the carnage that lasted the 20-hour marathon. The $500 buy-in event began Friday at 11:00 AM and went until 2:30 AM, with action starting again on Saturday at 2:00 PM and finally ending at 11:30 PM.

Once the clock struck 2:00 PM, the final 40 players were seated and all business. The short stacks quickly found themselves going all-in to survive the increasing blinds and each hour saw more and more players dropping like flies. The action only intensified as payouts escalated. Thanks to the large player turnout for the event, the prize pool reached $662,000, with the top nine finishers collecting at least $12,000 each.

The action finally closed with New York City's Ravi "Saint Soldier" Anand defeating Billy Hill. For his dominant display of poker skill and endurance, Anand took down the first place prize of $171,944 and the gold diamond-encrusted champion's bracelet. Anand's victory was quite the feat because this was his first live tournament and he has only been playing for five months. Hill made a cool $91,155 for his second-place finish.

Possibly the most interesting story of the event, however, was stellar play by the only woman to make the final table, Lisa Pickell. Outlasting 1,309 players, she epitomized class when her ace-five suited lost to pocket queens and left to warm applause from the crowd. Pickell earned $7,938 for place finish.

In describing her play, Pickell said her aggressive tactics helped throw her competitors off balance and was key to her beating the odds. Despite previously winning a World Series of Poker circuit event in December, even Pickell knew it would be difficult to navigate her way through the large number of players. "To get through a field of 1,300 was amazing. My main goal was to get to the final table and I did, so I'm satisfied," she said.

Event two of the Borgata Winter Poker Open, the $750 buy-in, is also underway and had a better-than-expected turnout of 864 competitors, all with the goal of becoming the second Borgata Winter Poker Open champion. The prize pool for event two is $648,000, with the first-place finisher taking home $176,968.

According to Borgata's director of poker operations, Stan Strickland, the players pouring into Borgata is another sign of just how big the game has become at Atlantic City's premiere poker venue. "We're thrilled that so many players are choosing Borgata as their poker tournament destination and we make sure that their experience exceeds their expectations."

Many players had nothing but positive things to say about first tournament, but Pickell might have summed it up best. "The Borgata always has a lot of action. That's what's great about it. And 1,300 people for the first event is amazing. That's a lot of money for a $500 tournament, not to mention the fact that the staff is great and the ballroom is fabulous."

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