Chaos at Borgata tournament leaves players furious

Jon Pill
Posted on: February 22, 2022 16:02 PST

The Borgata's return to tournament poker was hit by criticism over insufficient capacity and communication. The $400 buy-in event in the Borgata's President's Day series on Sunday was supposed to be a triumphant resurrection of tournament poker in for one of the gambling world's iconic locations.

The tournament offered a $200,000 guarantee which drew in a large number of players hoping for a weekend of AC poker. But instead of fast-paced low stakes action, players arrived to find four-hour queues and long lists of alternates. Worse still, it turned out there was no guarantee of a seat at the end of it as the venue's capacity was slowly exceeded.

Just a few hours after the 7 PM flight had shuffled up and dealt, the poker room's Twitter account announced that "All flights for today’s Poker Tournament are fully committed. There are no available spots at this time."

The backlash was harsh and immediate. Poker players took to Twitter to complain.

The disappointment levels were high for many player's drove or flew in.

"Most unprepared I’ve ever seen a casino for a poker tournament," Alan Gendelman wrote. "Drove 3 hours to turn around and go back home. What a joke."

Another player wrote: "Many people DID make arrangements, waited in lines for 4+ hours for the morning flight which was locked out and didn’t even get a guaranteed seat in the 7 pm flight which is also now sold out."

What went wrong?

Borgata has not commented on the event as yet. So the exact reasons for the chaos remain unconfirmed.

However, one plausible explanation mooted by some players is that the long waits and the abrupt cut-off were the results of a dealer shortage. If true, this is understandable, the Borgata wouldn't be the only casino to have struggled with dealer shortages as a result of the ongoing pandemic.

The Borgata is one of Atlantic City's main poker hubs. But it has been shut down since 2020. The casino's flagship tournament, the WPT Borgata Poker Open, had its 2019 final table delayed by over a year. Last year, the Borgata Poker Open took place purely online.

Rumors of high turnover among the casino's experienced poker room staff may explain the lack of preparation for Sunday's tournament.

While capacity issues are not uncommon for live events, well-prepared poker rooms are usually upfront about the possibility ahead of time. Here, on the other hand, many players arrived with every expectation of being able to play only to find that this was not an option.

The main problem here, therefore, was not the low capacity for a big tournament, but the fact that the issue was not communicated to players. Hopefully, the confusion here was a case of teething trouble and not tooth rot.

Featured image source: Flickr