By Sean Chaffin
As Day 3 of the WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open rolled into the afternoon, players were vying for a share of a prize pool of more than $4.5 million. That included a massive turnout of 1,415 entries with the winner taking home a payout of $728,430, but that will ultimately be decided after a trip to Las Vegas a few weeks from now.
This week’s event becomes the second where the six players making the TV final table will be flown to Las Vegas to play at HyperX Esports Arena. The state-of-the-art venue is located in Luxor Hotel and Casino, and will be used by the WPT in partnership with MGM. The tour held a few final tables at the facility last season, and this year marks the first year that final tables will be filmed there exclusively for FOX Sports.
So far, the final six players from the WPT Gardens Poker Championship will be playing to a winner on March 12 at the arena. The final table of the BWPO will be played on March 13. Other currently scheduled events in which players will play to a winner at the arena include the L.A. Poker Classic (March 2-6) and the WPT Choctaw (May 17-20).
The 30,000-square-foot arena features multiple levels with a complete broadcast center and production studio. It’s designed to host every form of competitive gaming, including poker, in a fun, cool high-tech environment. Players will play on a competition stage with a 50-foot LED video wall displaying all the action for those in attendance.
Along with cutting edge production facilities, poker fans have drink and meal options at bars located inside with TVs throughout offering a constant view of the action. Those in attendance can even live like a high roller and cheer on their favorite player in the “Owner’s Box” luxury VIP lounges.
Frank Stepuchin played at Borgata this week, and will be playing in the Esports Arena after ending play at the WPT Gardens as the final table chip leader. He’s got big plans for his upcoming appearance at the venue.
“I think it’s going to be marvelous,” he said. “I live in Vegas and saw that it’s open every day. I’m going to go check it out because I’ll have about 60 people coming to watch me play at the final table.”
The sights and sounds of the arena should make for an interesting first-hand experience. Erkut Yilmaz, who won the Season XVII WPT Borgata Poker Open here in September, thinks the venue would be a unique place to play as well as a trip to Sin City.
“Facility-wise, I think it would be great,” he said, “and I love Las Vegas.”
Day 1b chip leader Joey Couden was still in the hunt on Day 3 at Borgata, and was excited about the prospect playing at a final table at the HyperX Esports Arena.
“That seems like it would be pretty cool,” he said. “I’ve never been there, but it seems like a cool situation.”
The new tradition for the WPT begins in March with tournament action set to air on FOX Sports Regional Networks later in the year.
Sean Chaffin is a freelance writer in Crandall, Texas. His work appears in numerous websites and publications. Follow him on Twitter @PokerTraditions.
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