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Borgata 2019: Vegas Poker Experience in New Jersey?

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The Borgata Casino is not only the highest-revenue establishment in New Jersey for casino table gaming and slots, but it’s also the market leader in poker as well. In September 2019, the Borg’ made $2+ million in poker rake and tourney fees, more than double what the other Atlantic City rooms generated COMBINED.

There’s a clear consensus among the brick-and-mortar poker playing community that the Borgata is hands-down the place to play in Atlantic City. Indeed, quite a few believe it to be the best room not just in New Jersey but anywhere on the entire East Coast of the United States.

We decided to look into why the Borgata has such a stellar reputation and whether it’s deserved or not. Keep reading below for information on the games spread, tournaments, amenities, and other details about poker at the Borgata.

Borgata Live Poker Review

Website: https://www.theborgata.com/casino/poker/overview/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/borgataac/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/borgataac
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BorgataAC/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/TheBorgataAC
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/borgata/
Location: Atlantic City, New Jersey, in the Marina District
Hours: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
Promos:Progressive High Hand Thurs. – Sun., First Hand cash payments Mon. – Wed., Bad Beat Jackpot, mLife comps.
Tables: 85
Rake: 10% up to $4 in lowest stakes, half-hour time charges from $5 to $15 at higher stakes
Miscellaneous: 30+ TVs. Restrooms just outside the poker room.
Food/Beverage: Players can order free drinks and have them delivered to their seats. 17 dining venues within the casino.
Pros: Most active games of any New Jersey live poker room. Usually at least a couple of mixed/“other” games running. Many tournament series.
Cons: Tough games particularly during off-peak hours.

The Borgata Hotel, Casino & Spa is located in Atlantic City in the Marina District, near Harrah’s and the Golden Nugget. It’s a few minutes’ drive away from the Boardwalk casinos, like Caesars, Hard Rock, and Resorts.

The poker room is located on the first floor across from the Moneyline Bar & Book. It’s somewhat far from the casino's main entrance, but the north entrance is nearby.

Borgata Casino Hotel & SpaThe Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa

Cash Games

The most popular type of ring games are $1/$2 No Limit Hold’em tables. No surprise there – this format is de rigueur at most every cardroom in the country. You’ll also find $2/$5 NLHE active at most times, and during busier hours, $5/$10 and higher runs too.

There are typically a couple of small-stakes PLO games as well as a mixed game or two. Limit Hold’em tends to get going on most nights as well.

When we went down to the Borgata on a Thursday evening, we saw the following cash games in progress:

  • 7 x $1/$2 No Limit Hold’em
  • 4 x $2/$5 No Limit Hold’em
  • 3 x $2/$4 Limit Hold’em
  • 1 x $2/$2 Pot Limit Omaha
  • 1 x $200/$400 Mixed (7-Game)

The next night, Friday, there were more than 40 ring games running. Again, $1/$2 accounted for much of this, but NLHE up to $10/$25 was present too. In addition, there were a handful of Limit Hold’em (up to $40/$80), PLO (up to $10/$20), Stud (up to $75/$150), and Mixed Game (up to $300/$600) tables.

One thing you’ll notice about this roster of games is that there’s more high stakes action than at other AC poker rooms. This is generally the case at the Borgata, which seems to be the favorite destination of the high-rolling crowd.

A disadvantage of Borgata being a haven for the serious player is that game quality is sometimes mediocre. This isn’t really true on weekends or other busy periods, but during the mid-afternoon Monday through Friday, most seats are occupied by pros or competent amateurs.

Rake

In the smallest games offered, which are $1/$2 No Limit/Pot Limit and $2/$4 and $3/$6 Fixed Limit, the rake is the standard 10% up to $4: the same as at almost every other Atlantic City gaming parlor. However, at blind levels higher than this, the Borgata levies a time charge every half hour instead of rake.

This time charge increases from $5 per 30 minutes at $2/$5 NL up to $15 per half hour for some of the larger limit games. Pretty much consistently across the range of games offered, this time charge is much more favorable to players than a traditional rake.

For example, the $5 time charge at a $2/$5 NL Hold’em table is just 1bb per 30 minutes or 2bb an hour. Anyone who has seriously calculated the rake they pay in live poker knows that 2bb per hour in small-stakes Hold’em is a lower effective rake percentage than can be found most anywhere.

Tournaments

Every day of the week, the Borgata hosts a multi-table tournament or two. Buyins range from $60 + $15 + $20 for the Sunday Big Stack Turbo Bounty event to $200 + $30 for the Friday Big Stack $10,000 Guaranteed.

Borgata is the site of several prominent annual tourney series, like the Borgata Fall Poker Open, which features a $1 million guaranteed $2,500 + $200 Main Event, and the WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open, the latest instance of which saw 1,415 entrants compete for $4.67 million in the Main Event, smashing its $3 million guaranteed amount. While there’s a big series running, the normal weekly schedule is suspended.

There are nine-man sit-n-gos too, but they don’t tend to see much participation. They’re offered every day at buyins from $30 + $10 to $1,000 + $60. The number of players paid starts at just one for the lowest level, reaches two for the medium buyins, and goes to three in the biggest SNGs.

Promotions

The Borgata has a Bad Beat Jackpot that sometimes reaches higher than half a million dollars. In order to win, you need to have quad Tens or better lose at showdown, and the pot must be $20 or more. The losing hand gets 40% of the jackpot with 20% going to the winner and 40% distributed among the others dealt into the hand.

The Bad Beat Jackpot is a longshot, and you might not hit it no matter how much you play, but there are a couple of other promos that should pay off regularly to grinders who head to the tables every day. In the First Hand promotion, each specific hand from quad deuces up through royal flush has a prize associated with it. For instance, there are separate prizes for quad fours, quad aces, 10-high straight flush, Q-high straight flush, and all other possible hand strengths represented among quads and straight flushes. In all, there are 23 different prizes to win.

Each prize pool starts at $250, and if it’s not hit by the end of the day, another $250 is added. The First Hand is active Mondays through Wednesdays. For the purposes of this promo, the day starts at noon and continues on to 11:59 a.m. the following calendar day.

Then on Thursdays, the Progressive High Hand begins. It’s in play from noon to 10 p.m. on Thursday, noon till midnight on Friday and Saturday, and noon to 8 p.m. on Sunday.

Every half hour, the highest hand that was dealt in the previous 30 minutes wins $250. The qualifying hand must be at least aces full. If no hand qualifies, then the $250 cash rolls over to the next 30-minute period.

As they’re playing, Borgata rewards poker customers with comps through the mLife Rewards program. However, the amount you will get is pretty small, from $1 to $4 per hour depending on the stakes. There are frequent opportunities to score bonus comps by playing a certain number of hours per month.

Ambiance

The Borgata strives for an upscale, luxurious feel, and the poker room is no exception. The high ceilings, impressive classical architecture, and spacious layout give off a majestic vibe.

Borgata Poker Room

Indeed, the very sumptuousness of the poker room sometimes backfires in unusual ways as, for example, when the 30+ televisions mounted near the ceilings appear too far away and small compared to the empty space surrounding them.

The fact that the Borgata poker salon is in its own alcove of the casino keeps it somewhat quieter and more peaceful than the main gaming floor. It also creates a poker-only area where you won’t be distracted by slot reels spinning, cheers and jeers from the craps pit, and the other noises of casino gambling.

Poker Room at the Borgata

Food and Drink

Players can order drinks and have them delivered to the table for free although you should, of course, tip the waitress. Unfortunately, you cannot have food brought to your seat while playing. However, the new Moneyline Bar & Book is just across from the poker room. Here you can get bar food if you need a quick bite to eat, and you can place your sports bets at one of the kiosks or betting windows at the same time. The Marketplace Eatery is just down the stairs, offering casual dining, like burgers, sandwiches, tacos, et cetera.

Moneyline Bar and BookThe Moneyline Bar & Book

If the simple fare offered by Moneyline and the Marketplace just won’t do, then remember that the Borgata is a complete hotel and resort in addition to being a casino, so you’ll find a range of culinary options to satisfy your palate. Bobby Flay Steak, Japanese eatery Izakaya, and a couple of other fine dining restaurants beckon – but be prepared to pay a hefty premium over what you would pay for similar dishes outside a casino resort.

Odds and Ends

There are no restrooms within the poker room itself, but they are just outside, no more than a minute’s walk away.

A somewhat surprising omission at this high-end poker room is that there are no cell phone chargers at the tables. Another minor annoyance is that you can’t buy in with cash at the tables; you must visit the cashier first to exchange your money for chips. When first joining a table, you have to either wait for the big blind to reach you or post a blind from your current position.

Only the under-the-gun position is allowed to straddle and only for exactly two times the size of the big blind.

Borgata Online

The Borgata also has an online poker site. It manages its own branded internet cardroom, but it runs on the same software and network as PartyPoker’s state-licensed virtual poker room. Unlike in the live poker economy, where Borgata is a major force to be reckoned with, the PartyPoker New Jersey online cardroom is fairly small and stands third (out of four) in traffic numbers.

Borgata Online PokerTournament Lobby in the Borgata Online Poker Software

You can read our review of the Party Poker in America internet poker site to gain an understanding of what Borgata online poker has to offer. Be aware that some of the promotional and other minor details are different between Borgata and Party because they are distinct companies in a partnership with each other. All the information we provide about the tables, games, and software is still relevant.

History of the Borgata

The way in which the Borgata has captured dominance of the AC casino market is quite remarkable given that it only opened its doors in 2003. It was a joint venture between MGM and Boyd Gaming although MGM has since bought out its partner and is the sole owner/operator of the property. The idea behind this project was to bring the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas to the often grubby and low-rent atmosphere of Atlantic City.

At first, the Borgata invested in poker with a 34-table room. In 2006, a major casino expansion saw this increased to the current number of 85 tables. In 2011, the Borgata decided to designate a special section of the poker room as “The Boardroom”: a high-roller arena with games featuring a minimum buyin of $10,000.

At present, it appears that the Borgata’s backers have fully realized the goal of providing a superior gaming and entertainment experience than competitors do. It stands at the top of the rankings for both casino and poker revenue within the State of New Jersey.

Conclusion

In Las Vegas, you have your pick of large, professionally run poker destinations to choose from, but in Atlantic City, your list is basically reduced to just one. The Borgata ought to be your first stop as a poker player either visiting or residing in AC. You may find other opportunities elsewhere, depending on the particular promotions running at competing establishments or specific juicy games that you want to get into, but as your New Jersey poker home, the Borgata really stands head-and-shoulders above the rest of the market.

Other Players’ Thoughts

We aren’t the only ones who believe that the Borgata has knocked it out of the park poker-wise especially in comparison with its stagnant Atlantic City competitors. Check out the selection of comments below left by real-life poker players at forums across the internet:

Player Considers Borgata Favorite Casino in the East
Player Had a Good First Experience at Borgata
Commenter Finds Borgata the Best

Add Online Poker Into Your Mix

While the Borgata offers a fine place to play some cards, you might live too far away to make it anything more than a vacation destination. Even if you live nearby, there will undoubtedly be times when you don’t feel like getting dressed and heading out your door.

You can play most of the same games online as you could at the physical Borgata casino. Offshore sites that aren’t licensed by New Jersey or any other state tend to be larger and more robust than the Borgata’s own internet poker room. To find out more about these international rooms for card games online, read our guide to online poker for USA players.