Mar 13, 2019
By Sean Chaffin
The Borgata has been a big part of Daniel Buzgon’s poker life. The 34-year-old from Marlton, New Jersey, plays the property’s regular live tournaments and is a sponsored pro and ambassador for the poker room and BorgataPoker.com. Winning the property’s first event with a final table here at HyperX Esports Arena in Las Vegas could solidify that relationship even more.
“Winning this would mean a lot,” says Buzgon, who entered the final table of the WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open third in chips with 9.1 million.
“As you get older these chances come by a little more scarcely, especially since I don’t play many anymore. This being a Borgata event and being a Borgata-sponsored pro, it would mean a lot.”
When not playing in Borgata live tournaments, Buzgon grinds it out in cash games at BorgataPoker.com. As one of only three states with legalized for-money online poker, what’s it like grinding it out in New Jersey?
“Coming from a pre-Black Friday background as an online pro, I’m one of the fortunate ones who lives in a state where there’s legal, regulated online gambling,” he says. “Being that it’s eight years since Black Friday, it’s still a little disappointing where the state of where online poker is.
“We have three sites in New Jersey, which is more than they have out here in Vegas, so there’s a little bit of variety of stuff you can play everyday whether tournaments or cash games. But still, overall, it’s pretty disappointing of what you would have thought might have happened across the whole country.”
Along with playing the casino’s online product, Buzgon has many major scores at the property and is hoping to add another in the BWPO. In 2015, he won the $500 Borgata Million event for $194,509 and a $400 Almighty Stack in 2017 for $151,803. He also won two WSOP Circuit events in Atlantic City and won a third in September online for his third championship ring.
“Playing live for me usually involved playing in Atlantic City when Borgata has one of their five tournament series during the year,” he says. “Other than that, I came out to Vegas during the summer and other than that I don’t really travel much. I’ve focused mainly online for the last year.”
That doesn’t mean he keeps a daily schedule but tries to work in cash game play about three days a week then plays some of the major Sunday tournaments online as well.
Playing professionally for 12 years, Buzgon brings a plethora of experience to the tables. A graduate of Arizona State, he has more than $2 million in live tournament winnings. His biggest WPT cash came in Season X at Borgata, taking third for $335,433. He also has a second WPT final table appearance, finishing fourth at bestbet Jacksonville the same season for $94,624. This marks his eighth WPT cash and a rare trip away from New Jersey for poker.
“I used to travel a lot more when I was younger,” he says. “But I don’t enjoy living out of a suitcase in a hotel anymore.”
Prior to this final table, Buzgon didn’t go too deep in researching his opponents. Finding video of them online wasn’t really possible, but that doesn’t mean he’s not prepared.
“I did as much as I could,” he says. “There’s not a ton of stuff out there on all six of us. There’s not a ton of stuff you can watch online. But I played with them all throughout the tournament, and I’ve played with them throughout the past.
“I focused more on my own game rather than strategizing against them because anything could happen in this. There could be a big pot and the chip lead could shift. Their stacks at the table could all change very quickly, so I mainly try to focus on my game and how to prepare against them.”
Golf is a major passion for Buzgon when he’s away from the card room, and he was able to tee off last week with the WPT’s Matt Savage and Gardens Poker Championship finalist Brent Roberts at Boulder City, just a short drive southeast of Nevada. Buzgon came out on top when it came to the scorecard and was hoping that carried over to the final table.
Along with golf, Buzgon is a huge soccer fan – especially Liverpool. His confidence may have received a lift when the club scored a key victory right before the final table got underway. The team took a 3-1 win over Bayern in the Champions League round of 16.
“I’m feeling pretty good,” he says. “My soccer team just won five minutes ago in one of the biggest games of the year. I just finished watching, so I’m pretty excited about that. So I’m not in a bad mood right now and pretty excited to get this thing going.”
Sean Chaffin is a freelance writer in Crandall, Texas. His work appears in numerous websites and publications. Follow him on Twitter @PokerTraditions.