High-stakes championship poker returns to Borgata Casino in Atlantic City with “The Return” presented by Borgata and BetMGM. The tournament started on January 4th and concludes on January 8th with a live streamed final table. The Championship poker tournament features $3 million in guarantees with a $1 million top prize.
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“The Return” January 4th recap
Day 1A entries: 562
Advanced to Day 2: 153
Average Stack: 128,000
Poker News Day 1A Chip Counts
“The Return” January 4th highlights
After 1,400 players opened the new year in Monday’s Mystery Bounty, massive turnouts continued Wednesday when over 560 players entered Day 1A of Borgata’s “The Return.” With Thursday’s session still to come, early numbers project that the prize pool will eclipse the $3 Million mark early on Day 1B.
The only question left is how big will it get?
- Around 150 players advanced through the opening Day 1 session, earning themselves a day off on Thursday in the process. All surviving Day 1A players will join players from Day 1B during Friday’s Day 2 session. That’s when the field will be combined for the first time and begin to play down to the money.
- Adam Adler of South Carolina shot to the top of the leaderboard late on Day 1A. Adler bagged 366,000 chips, just 10,000 more than Borgata regular Dusti Smith. Both will likely be top ten stacks when the field combines on Friday.
- Chip leader: Adam Adler (366,000)
- While Adler bagged the chip lead, some of the game’s best also finished the day with big stacks. Stephen Song, who earlier Thursday was officially announced as 2022 GPI Player of the Year, ended Day 1A with 323,000, while the reigning WSOP Player of the Year Dan Zack also finished over 300,000.
- Top ten stacks: Stephen Song (323,000) 2022 GPI Player of the Year, Dan Zack (305,000) 2022 WSOP Player of the Year, Tom Wheaton (211,000)
- There were other big names that advanced to Day 2 with over 100,000 chips. Cherish Andrews, who was just officially announced as 2022 GPI Female Player of the Year, leads the group, with 3-time WSOP bracelet winners Chance Kornuth and Kristen Foxen also over the century mark.
- Notable players who advanced: Cherish Andrews, GPI Female Player of the Year; Michael Gagliano, BetMGM Ambassador; Ryan Riess, 2013 WSOP Main Event Champion; Chance Kornuth – High Stakes Vegas Pro with MGM.
- Notable players that failed to advance from the first Day 1 session included BetMGM Brand Ambassador Darren Elias, 2015 World Series of Poker Main Event champion Joe McKeehen, high-stakes Las Vegas pro Nick Schulman, and Joey Weisman, winner of the 2022 BetMGM Poker Championship at ARIA.
- After over 1,400 players turned out for the first Mystery Bounty event in Borgata Poker history to start the week, multiple players tried to keep the momentum going in The Return. Ryan Dodd certainly did, bagging chips to advance to Day 2 less than 24 hours after he pulled the $250,000 bounty at the final table.
“The Return” January 5th recap
Day 1B entries: 683
Total Entries: 1,158
Advanced to Day 2: 483 (combined)
Poker News Day 1B Chip Counts
“The Return” January 5th highlights
Borgata’s “The Return” originally boasted a $3 million guaranteed prize pool. Thanks to two huge Day 1 sessions – including nearly 700 players competing on Thursday – more than $5.5 million will be up for grabs once the prize pool and payouts are finalized. Just under 500 players will return to play into the money on Friday, while all will have their eye on Sunday’s final table and the more than $1 million that awaits the eventual champion.
- After 153 players advanced from Day 1A, around 330 players advanced through the second Day 1 flight. All advancing players will be combined for the first-time during Friday’s Day 2 session, where they will begin to play down to the money.
- While no one was able to catch Day 1A leader Adam Adler, another South Carolina native finished Day 1B atop the chip counts. Thomas Carroll led the way during most of the second flight and finished the night with 315,000. He’ll start Day 2 comfortably in the top ten.
- Chip leader: Thomas Carroll (315)
- The rest of the Day 1B leaderboard featured some of the field’s best players. 4-time WPT Champion and BetMGM Brand Ambassador Darren Elias finished over 275,000, while Canadian high stakes pro Mike Leah also finished over 250,000. 2015 WSOP Main Event champion Joe McKeehen also finished over 200,000 to round out the top ten.
- Top ten stacks: Darren Elias (276,000), Mike Leah (265,000), Aubrey Williams (259,000), Joe McKeehen (212,000)
- There were other big names that advanced to Day 2 with over 100,000 chips. High stakes pro Brock Wilson bagged over 160,000 to lead the group, while two-time WSOP bracelet winners David Jackson, Michael Wang, and Nick Schulman also finished around the century mark.
- Notable players who advanced: Brock Wilson (160,000), David Jackson (145,000), Michael Wang (102,000), Nick Schulman (98,000)
- Jennifer Noone also finished over 100,000. The New Jersey nurse was one of more than forty BetMGM Poker Qualifiers who won a seat to “The Return” via an online satellite. Noone headlines more than a dozen qualifiers that have also advanced to Friday’s Day 2 session.
“The Return” January 6th recap
Total Entries: 1,158
Total Prize Pool: $5,538,700
Advanced to Day 3: 53
Poker News Jan. 6 Chip Counts
Day 2 of Borgata’s “The Return” started with nearly 500 players and after 16 hours of play just 53 players are still alive for $1 million first place prize. “Moving Day” saw the field play into the money after dinner, which is also when Day 2 chip leader Bin Weng got moving. When play resumes, Weng will lead the field into Day 3 as one of two players over 2,000,000 chips, but he and the rest of the field still have tons of work to do to make Day 4 and “The Return” final table.
“The Return” January 6th highlights
- The official payouts were finalized before the start of Day 2. Over $1.2 million will go to the eventual champion, but that money won’t be up for grabs until Sunday’s final table. On Friday, the field played into the money and officially popped the bubble when Dan Zack eliminated Tomasz Zakrzewski in 111th place.
- Zack, the reigning WSOP Player of the Year, was among the chip leaders for most of Day 2, but finished the night close to the bottom of the leaderboard with just 135,000 for Day 3.
- Chip leader Bin Weng won a massive pot before the bubble burst to catapult himself up the counts. He finished with 2,395,000, with Lanny Vaysman finishing 2nd in chips with 2,050,000.
- Christopher Ng, Blake Bohn, and Sam Laskowitz, who won the opening Mystery Bounty event earlier this week, round out the top five. All three are near 1,500,000 chips.
- A few big-name players finished just outside of the top ten including 2015 WSOP Main Event champion Joe McKeehen with 950,000. New Jersey native Frank Funaro bagged just below the chip average, while four-time WSOP bracelet winner Anthony Zinno finished just under 500,000.
“The Return” January 7th recap
Total Entries: 1,158
Players Remaining: 8
Chip Average: 4,996,250
Total Prize Pool: $5,538,700
Final Table Chip Counts
Final Table Payouts
“The Return” January 7th highlights
Day 3 of Borgata’s “The Return” started with just over 50 players and after another dozen hours of action, 8 players bagged to advance to Day 4. The Final Table will feature a few big names including chip leader and 2015 WSOP Main Event Champion Joe McKeehen and big money is up for grabs.
- When Joe McKeehen won the 2015 WSOP Main Event, he held a dominating chip lead heading into the final table. He never surrendered that lead en route to claiming poker’s top prize and over $8 million and the Pennsylvania native will be hoping for a similar result today as he goes for another major tournament title.
- Jonathan Borenstein sits second heading into Day 4. While it was McKeehen’s AA vs. KK stole the overnight headlines and the chip lead from Borenstein, the New Jersey native played his fair share of big pots. He scored multiple knockouts throughout the last few levels and will enter the final table looking to record a career-best score.
- Las Vegas pro Justin Saliba rounds out the top three. While he might be in the toughest seat at the table – directly to McKeehen’s left – he has one of the best resumes of the bunch. Saliba won his first WSOP bracelet and made three more WSOP final tables in 2022.
- 2023 is off to a great start for Sam Laskowitz. He opened the week winning the $2,200 Mystery Bounty and now a few days later, the Long Island native is back looking for another Borgata title.
- The remaining final table players will all return under 50 big blinds and four players – Lanny Vaysman, Sundiata Devore, Christopher Ng, and Bin Weng are all looking for career-best scores.
“The Return” January 8th Final Table recap
Total Entries: 1,142
Total Prize Pool: $5,538,700
In The Money: 110
1st Place Prize: $1,000,000
Six Figure Payouts: 9
Complete “The Return” Payouts
“The Return” Final Table Highlights
One thing was certain Sunday, Borgata’s “The Return” was going to crown the first poker millionaire of 2023. Ten hours later, Philadelphia’s Bin Weng defeated Brooklyn’s Sundiata Devore to lift the trophy and claim $1 million as the Borgata “The Return” Champion. The seven-figure score is Weng’s largest ever and moved his career tournament earnings over the $3 million mark.
- 2015 WSOP Main Event Champion Joe McKeehen, who is also from Pennsylvania, finished 3rd for $440,327, while New Jersey poker pro Jonathan Borenstein finished 4th for $368,324.
- Eight players returned for the final day of “The Return” with all eyes on a seven-figure 1st place prize and the first Borgata Poker Championship since 2019. Main Event Champion Joe McKeehen held the overnight chip lead at a final table that featured multiple WSOP bracelet winners and professionals from across the United States.
- Sam Laskowitz, who won the $2,200 Mystery Bounty earlier in the week, was the first player eliminated at the final table. All told, the Long Island native won over $290,000 in the first week of 2023.
- New York’s Christopher Ng and Lanny Vaysman were eliminated in 7th and 6th place respectfully, with the latter earning just under $250,000.
- Poker professionals Justin Saliba and Jonathan Borenstein were eliminated in 5th and 4th place respectfully. Saliba, a Las Vegas pro that won his first career WSOP bracelet in 2022, earned just over $300,000. Borenstein earned $368,000 – a career-best tournament score and his largest since a World Poker Tour win in 2017.
- Joe McKeehen was denied another major tournament title after he was eliminated in 3rd place. The former Main Event winner held the chip lead through the first few levels of final table play, before losing an all-in flip to Bin Weng that shook up the leaderboard. McKeehen was then left short stacked after another all-in encounter against Sundiata Devore before being eliminated. He took home $440,000 for the podium finish.
- After the 3rd place knockout, the remaining two players discussed a change to the prize pool and agreed to a chop. Devore locked up over $926,000 of the remaining prize pool and Weng secured $1 million – emphasizing his desire to a seven-figure score in the process. They left the trophy to play for and after a hard-fought heads-up match that spanned multiple levels Bin Weng was crowned Borgata’s “The Return” Champion.