The return of a major tournament series at Borgata has been on players’ minds for the better part of four years, and the 2024 Borgata Winter Poker Open was just the fix they needed. We saw more than three weeks of Borgata trophies awarded, millions of dollars in prize money changing hands, and champions being crowned daily.
However, there is undoubtedly one title and trophy at the Winter Poker Open that the players hold in higher regard than any other: The winner of the $5,300 Borgata Winter Poker Open Championship Event.
A total of 689 players took their shot at the title, but when the last card fell, local pro and Borgata regular Alex Queen raised the trophy, earned the title, and took home the life-changing payday of $613,063.
Borgata Winter Poker Open Championship Event results
“It doesn’t feel real”
After his dominating performance, Queen expressed how he felt about winning the Borgata Championship title. “It doesn’t feel real; it’s just awesome. I always love coming here, staying here. Good food, good poker room, Good vibes!”
The moment wasn’t lost on Queen. In fact, the anticipation led to a sleepless night before the final table.
“I couldn’t really sleep last night,” said Queen. “I was just really focused on playing my best and trying to leverage stacks once I won that big hand. I’d give myself a 7 out of 10.”
This is far from Queen’s first success at the Borgata. Three of his four biggest live scores all came right here at Borgata, including his former largest score from taking down the 2010 Borgata Spring Poker Open Championship for $355k. However, Queen says this one tops the list.
“It definitely takes the cake,” he said. “I won an open here when I was 21 for $355,000. That was my biggest cash until now, and I don’t play tournaments often anymore, so I wasn’t sure if I could ever recapture that magic. But, the cards were in my favor today. I tell all my cash friends that there’s nothing better than running deep in a live tournament. The endorphin rush, pure excitement, this is awesome.”
A family man at heart, Queen has some specific plans for his winnings.
“I think I’m going to take my family to Universal and celebrate with my 10-year-old stepson Jackson.”
Final table action
The players came into the final table with an average stack of about 40 big blinds, so there was some real poker yet to be played, and play they did.
The day started with Brian Yoon, who came in as the second shortest stack, getting a pure double through Carlos Chadha when Yoon drilled a gutter on the turn and got all the chips in.
A few hands later, Anthony Zinno would be put in a brutal spot where he was forced to fold jacks following shoves from both Queen and Chadha, who both held ace-king. Zinno would’ve scooped, but instead, play raged on six-handed.
That led to the most pivotal hand of the tournament:
John Pannucci, the chip leader at the time, opened the button before getting three-bet by Alex Queen in the small blind. On Anthony Zinno in the big blind, he thought through his options and then bet a non-all in sizing leaving himself around 12 big blinds. Pannucci wasted little time and moved all in from the button. Queen tanked momentarily and then called the all-in for his tournament life. Zinno went deep into the tank and asked for some counts before making a tough fold, which the stream would later confirm was pocket queens.
Queen had aces, Pannucci had kings, and it seemed that Zinno had made a sharp fold. That is until the dealer ripped off a queen on the turn that would’ve put Zinno firmly in the chip lead. Instead, Queen scooped a massive pot to take an overwhelming chip lead.
Spoiler alert: He would never lose that lead again.
Casey Hatmaker would then fall in 6th place after getting short. He still takes home his biggest live score of all time and will be a name to remember on the tournament scene.
That would be followed by the elimination of Carlos Chadha in 5th when Alex Queen cooled off his kings by drilling a flush on the river to send him to the rail. Anthony Zinno would be eliminated by Brian Yoon just a few hands later when his ace-three could not improve against the ace-jack of Yoon.
The players were then three-handed. Queen still held a massive chip lead, but it was Yoon and Pannucci whose chips did the most moving. Yoon scored a double through Pannucci, but just one hand later, Pannucci doubled through Queen.
There was then a massive hand where Pannucci’s ace-deuce found a pair on the flop against the ace-queen of Yoon. This would leave him short, and he would be eliminated just one hand later when he was forced all in from the big blind and Queen woke up with aces.
Heads-up play began with the two largest stacks from the start of the final table. It was only fitting that two Borgata regulars faced off for the largest prize of the series. There was some back and forth, but ultimately, the almost 10:1 chip lead of Queen would be too much for Pannucci to handle, and he fell in second place after an incredible run.
The only thing left to do then was crown Alex Queen the king of the 2024 Borgata Winter Poker Open Championship Event.
Congratulations to Alex Queen for his impressive victory and winning $630,063, the largest and most coveted prize of the festival!
All photos by Matthew Berglund with 8131 Media/Poker.org