Since I was born and raised in NJ, the majority of my live poker experience has taken place at Borgata Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City, NJ.
Borgata is very much so my home court and probably always will be.
I figured it would be helpful to share 6 things every Borgata visitor should know, including (click to jump to that section):
- Tournament structures and guarantees
- Cash game and satellite tournament options
- Poker room comfort and cleanliness
- What you should eat at Borgata
- The quality of the poker room staff
- Parking, online registration, and other conveniences
There are many reasons why Borgata and BorgataPoker.com are in my opinion, the best place to play poker on the east coast for recreational players, serious amateurs as well as professionals and here are my thoughts why:
1. Tournament Structures and Guarantees
With unlimited re-entries having taken over the live and online poker scene, tournament structures have become very important when choosing where to play poker. Ensuring players get the most out of their tournament buy-in and rake paid is something we work on almost daily.
And because of the understanding that it takes a lot more than huge guarantees to grow and nurture an online poker economy and community, BorgataPoker.com has been the solid leader in this category since online poker regulation took place here in New Jersey late 2013. We take great pride in being the most hands-on online poker network by having the ability to communicate with our players directly and to make changes or additions to something quickly. Bottom line is if the players want it, they generally get it on BorgataPoker.com.
Borgata also hosts several live tournament series throughout the year, with more $1 million+ guaranteed live events than any other casino along the northeast corridor.
The World Poker Tour comes to town twice a year in January and September with their $3500/$3 million guaranteed championship main events. These are the largest live events of the year in this area and with an abundant schedule of big guaranteed prelims including the $600/$2 million guaranteed opening event and the very popular $450/$1 million guaranteed Almighty Stack, these events have become hard to miss as a recreational or professional poker player.
2. Game and Satellite Tournament Options
Borgata offers a great variety of live games in the poker room with good year-round action for all types of players.
Live $1/$2, $2/$5 and $5/$10 NLH games are plentiful throughout the week, with bigger action on the weekends including $300/$600 mix and up. Games notice huge upticks during live tournament series and at times the $2/$5 and $25/$50 PLO and $10/$25 and $25/$25 NLH games seem to take over the poker room as well as all the tables. Borgata also has dedicated high limit poker hosts, so any game that players want to play is a no-brainer.
BorgataPoker.com has cash games and tournaments that run 24/7 and players can fund their online poker account by depositing online or at the main cage in the casino. In addition to traditional $1/$2 and $2/$5 NLH cash games, the micro cash games such as $0.5/$0.10 or $0.25/$0.50 are always running and are good options for building bankrolls and improving.
BorgataPoker.com is a big believer in satellites. They are an important function within the poker economy as they serve as a bankroll builder for many low stakes players and they help propel mid-stakes players into shot-taking situations. Satellites also by nature help create a good foundation of mid-stakes gaming options, which I feel is the most important group of poker players for a site or room.
In addition to an ongoing weekly schedule of good value satellites into the larger buy-in events online, several times per year BorgataPoker.com runs online satellites into larger, land-based events in North America, including:
- WPT Five Diamonds Championship at Bellagio in Las Vegas
- Party Poker MILLIONS
- $10 million guaranteed Championship in Montreal, Canada
- Fall Poker Open at Borgata
Live satellites are also offered in the poker room for all five Borgata Championship events, and at the most recent WPT Final Table this past September, four out of the six players won their seat in a satellite!
3. Borgata Poker Room Comfort and Cleanliness
Most of the tables in the poker room are equipped with USB plugins for charging phones and there are also a few charging stations around the poker room. The tables and chairs are the most comfortable anywhere and after summers in Vegas it’s always nice to get home.
The expansive poker room is its own contained room, away from the sounds of the casino. It does not share space with slot machines or smoking areas (because there’s really nothing worse than playing in smoke) and has its own restrooms located inside the poker room.
4. Best Food Options at Borgata
One of the best parts about the poker room at Borgata is that the newly renovated Marketplace Eatery is directly underneath it. This makes the traditional break time sprint for snacks a casual stroll with time to choose among the several attractive options.
The newest addition to the Eatery is the Grab & Go Market. It’s my and many other poker players’ go-to because of the healthy pre-made options like Chicken Caesar wraps, tuna salad with avocado, veggies, crackers and hummus trays.
There’s also a full coffee bar I like to get an iced latte from on occasion and for the nights I need extra inspiration at the tables, I pick up a cannoli or two. Or three. There are also food runners equipped with menus in the poker room who can bring your order directly to your table.
Other restaurants at Borgata that are popular with poker players include Bobby Flay Steak, Metro, Izakaya, Sunroom, and Angeline.
5. Borgata Poker Room Staff and Player Relations
An annoying experience while playing live poker is encountering incorrect floor decisions or dealers not suited for the game they are dealing. I have found the floor staff at Borgata to be quite good in their dealer selection and floor rulings and if there is ever a question about a ruling, 2nd and 3rd opinions are always welcomed.
The players and fairness in the game is always their priority and the ongoing education of dealers and floor staff is obvious. I have been in situations elsewhere where this has not always been the case, and so being able to rely on Borgata’s veteran staff in this way is great. Additionally, the poker staff at Borgata is extremely approachable and will always try to make a player’s experience better.
Having a staff that understands the need to continually evolve along with its players is clutch. Both the land-based and online staff at Borgata understand that poker players choose where to play, and in my experience, Borgata has been by far the most receptive to change and suggestion than other casinos and online poker sites.
The culture at Borgata is quite different and very player-relation-based. Both online and land-based staff factor in player feedback and discussion in all plans and I have never had an easier time broaching an issue or witnessed an easier fix of something.
An example of this recently on the live side is Borgata leading the way in the trending transition to Big Blind Ante tournament structures, which has proven to be an immediate and highly lauded improvement to the live poker experience for everyone. An example of BorgataPoker.com leading another trending transition is increasing nightly tournament starting stacks from 10k to 50k.
These changes reflect the desire and gumption on Borgata’s part in listening to and doing what’s right for the players. It also shows that Borgata is staying ahead of the curve on aspects in poker that are extremely meaningful and valuable for the players long term – and as a player, this matters to me.
There are a few other conveniences that I personally have found helpful and play a big part in why I think Borgata is such an easy choice for poker players.
- The surface parking lot is right next to the poker room and the covered parking is right next to the convention rooms where the WPT events are held twice a year.
- Online registration is available for the live tournament series typically 3-4 weeks prior to start.
- The newly renovated Beer Garden which is just outside the poker room is an incredible outdoor lounging area that has games and TVs and during nice weather is a great place to relax during dinner breaks.
- The expanding sports book is next to the poker room.
Back in 2009, when I started playing online more frequently, I was also playing the live daily tournaments at Borgata several times a week. I had decent success in these tournaments which is what propelled me to play online even more.
Since then my poker career has taken me to many places including Canada, Las Vegas, London, Mexico, Monaco, and Morocco. Over the years I have become quite selective about where I choose to play. I admit I am a bit spoiled and expect a lot from live poker rooms, however with the trend of increasing rake on live tournaments at casinos all around the country, I feel I am justified in doing so.
And I also admit that I am not a bit, but very spoiled when it comes to online poker because of how involved BorgataPoker.com is on a daily basis with its players. I do feel this should be the norm in regulated online poker and site operators should be doing their very best to acquire new players and retain the regulars in this fashion rather than short-term tactics that currently plague online poker.