The Borgata Poker Open changed. A long-time stop on the World Poker Tour, the Borgata recognized the impact of the American recession on everything, including poker. In January of 2009, the well-known Atlantic City casino attempted to lower the buy-in in an effort to be more inclusive and affordable for the poker-playing masses. It worked, and when the WPT Borgata Poker Open started on September 19, it did so with the lowest buy-in on the WPT circuit at $3,500 and a $2 million guaranteed prize pool.
Day 1A brought 326 players to the felt, and that group included players like Kenna James, Chino Rheem, Ray Henson, Matt Matros, Jonathan Little, Kathy Liebert, Theo Tran, Eric Baldwin, Dwyte Pilgrim, Alex Bolotin, Soheil Shamseddin, Nancy Todd Tyner, Steve Brecher, and Cornel Andrew Cimpan. When the day ended, the exact chip counts or chip leaders were not known but it was reported that Ray Henson was among the leaders.
Day 1B added another 692 players, making for a total of 1,018 in the tournament and proving to be the largest field ever at a World Poker Tour event. The prize pool came to $3,359,400 with a first prize of just over $925K, but only the top 100 players were to be paid. The second starting day’s action found itself with a number of recognizable faces, like Gavin Smith, Roy Winston, Bill Gazes, Ted Lawson, Chris Bell, Allen Kessler, Bernard Lee, Brian Lemke, Lacey Jones, and John D’Agostino. Again, no exact chip counts for the day were noted.
Day 2 started with 570 players who survived their first days, but only 167 would make it through the second day. Among the survivors were Bill Gazes, Kathy Liebert, Jonathan Little, Michael Binger, and Lee Childs. But atop the leaderboard was Olivier Busquet with 524,600, followed by Tony Moussa and Danny Illingworth.
Day 3 found players moving quickly toward the money bubble, and in only a few hours, it hit when Paul Georges was eliminated in 101st place through unknown action. The last 100 players would leave with a minimum payout of $4,704, and some of the notable cashes included Jason Dewitt in 81st place, Soheil Shamseddin in 71st, Matt Brady in 66th, and Kathy Liebert in 29th. With 27 players remaining, play ended with Yanick Brodeur in the lead with 3,016,000, followed by Frank Calo and Ray Henson.
Day 4 would work the field down to the final table, with Ofir Mor leading the way by busting in 27th place. Other significant eliminations throughout the day were Bobby Suer in 25th place, Chris Reslock in 11th, Steve Brecher in tenth, and Ray Henson in ninth. Ultimately, with seven players left and one to go before the final table was set, it was Michael Brown who pushed all-in with a little over one million chips with pocket eights, and Jeremy Brown was the caller holding . the board came to give Jeremy Brown the straight and leave Michael Brown on the rail with $117,579 for seventh place.
The final table was set for the following day with seating assignments and chip counts:
Seat 1: Yanick Brodeur 5,780,000
Seat 2: Keith Crowder 2,750,000
Seat 3: Jeremy Brown 5,480,000
Seat 4: Olivier Busquet 10,350,000
Seat 5: Kenny Nguyen 600,000
Seat 6: Ivan Mamuzic 5,655,000
The action started off with the extreme short-stacked player ready to move. Nguyen did that on the third hand of the night with pocket eights, but he was up against the pocket kings of Busquet. The board came , and Kenny Nguyen was eliminated in sixth place with $156,212.
Crowder had been losing traction from the start of the table and made his push on the 18th hand of the table. Crowder moved all-in with from the small blind, but Brown woke up with pocket eights in the big blind. The dealer brought hope for Crowder with the flop, but the turn and river ended the tournament for Keith Crowder, who walked away with $188,126 for fifth place.
Play then slowed quite a bit, and no big pots occurred until Brown surged ahead. It was in a 7.7 million-chip pot versus Busquet that Brown won to jump into the lead. Aggressive in the game and verbally, Brown had climbed to the top.
Meanwhile, Brodeur was chipped down and finally raised all-in from the big blind with . Brown came over the top all-in with , and Brodeur called for his tournament life. The innocent flop came , but the on the turn gave the advantage to Brown. A on the river ended Yanick Brodeur’s run in fourth place with $216,681.
Three-handed action saw Ivan Mamuzic as the short stack, and he pushed all-in from the big blind for his last 2.8 million. Brown was the caller with pocket sixes, and they dominated the pocket threes of Mamuzic. The board came , and Brown improved to a full house while Mamuzic took to the rail with $251,955 for third place.
Heads-up action began with the following counts on the 69th hand of the evening:
Jeremy Brown 22,640,000
Olivier Busquet 7,965,000
Brown continued his aggressive style and chipped away at Busquet for more than 20 hands. Finally, the opportunity arose for Busquet to double through Brown with J-7 over Q-9 when a jack came on the turn. Six hands later, Busquet doubled again with pocket queens.
Busquet found his stride and accumulated chips, even doubling again about 20 hands later. Seven hands later, Busquet took a pot worth more than 7 million when he called Brown’s bluff, and the chip advantage was finally on the side of Busquet.
Brown did win a large pot to take back the chip lead once more, but Busquet was clearly not giving up. Busquet took the lead for the last time, then won a monster pot to jump over the 20 million-chip mark and leave Brown with less than 10 million.
Two hands later, it was over. Brown raised preflop and Busquet called to see a flop. Brown pushed all-in with for the straight draw, but Busquet called with for trips. The came on the turn to give Brown the flush draw, but the hit on the river to leave Brown with a second place finish and $453,519.
Olivier Busquet made a comeback that reporters on the scene said must see when it airs on Fox Sports to be believed. It was sheer tenacity and calm that won the tournament for Busquet, who took home a WPT bracelet and $925,514 for the feat.