The Borgata Winter Poker Open dates to 2006 with winners that helped define the poker boom era. Michael Mizrachi, John Hennigan and Gavin Griffin were the first three BWPO Main Event champions; each with memorable World Poker Tour broadcasts.
Hennigan took down the richest BWPO in 2007 when it was a $10,000 buy-in. The event drew 571 entrants for a prize pool north of $5.5 million. Hennigan earned $1.6 million at a final table that included the late John Gale, Joseph Cappello and John Racener. Hennigan still holds the record for most tournament earnings at the Borgata.
Mizrachi also took down a $10,000 buy-in event that featured John D’Agostino, Erick Lindgren and Amnon Filippi finishing first through fourth respectively. Mizrachi earned $1.1 million from a $3.6 million prize pool.
Griffin’s final table in 2008 included Noah Schwartz, Lee Watkinson and a fresh-faced Justin Bonomo. The now 2nd ranked all-time tournament money winner with $63 million final tabled the event for $135,243 at time when he had less than $1 million in career earnings.
From 2009-2012 the BWPO was independent of the WPT and saw the buy-in drop down to $3,500 from $10,000. Steve Weinstein, Jeff Madsen, Vadim Shlez and Josh Mancuso each took down Main Event titles. Madsen defeated Sirous Jamshidi in 2010, Thomas Marchese finished in third place and Al Grimes finished in sixth.
Then from 2013-2020 the BWPO was back on the WPT Main Tour schedule. Yung Hwang was first to etch his name on the Mike Sexton WPT Champions Cup in 2017, Robert Merulla won $842,379 in 2014 and Aaron Mermelstein beat a stacked final table in 2015 that featured Eugene Todd, Shawn Cunix, Esther Taylor, Justin Liberto and Michael Wang.
Daniel Weinman makes his mark
Christopher Leong took home $816,246 in 2016 and reigning WSOP Main Event champ Daniel Weinman had his first signature win in 2017 for nearly $900,000. Weinman’s table had Tyler Kenney, Jia Liu and Nicholas Immekus at the final table with Blake Bohn, Anthony Ruberto and Anthony Gregg all making deep runs to the final two tables.
Eric Afriat contended for WPT Player of the Year in 2018 when he made two other final tables that season – 5th place at WPT Montreal and 3rd place at WPT Playgroud. Vinicius Lima took down the Main Event in 2019 for $728,430 and Veerab Zakarian was the last winner 2020 where Brian Altman and Bin Weng made the final table.