As promised there were plenty of famous faces among the 516 hopefuls who hit the felt as the World Poker Tour portion of the 2008 Borgata Poker Open commenced Sunday morning.
Among those vying for their piece of the guaranteed $5 million prize pool (including an AyCee record $1.425,000 for the winner) were Ylon Schwartz and Dennis Philips (two of the nine players who will be present and accounted for when the final table of the 2008 World Series of Poker begins in November in Las Vegas).
Also on board Sunday were Mark Seif, Gavin Smith, Joe Sebok, Matt Keikoan, Roy Winston (last year's event champ) and Jamie Gold, whose 2006 WSOP championship earned him $12 million--the largest poker pot in history.
As Frank Seravalli reported in today's DN sports section, another contestant was Flyers' forward Scottie Upshall, whose $10,000 buy-in was covered by Borgata, and who has designated any winnings to two charities.
But what wasn't reported was that Upshall made a new friend yesterday. He and Gold were introduced by Borgata poker boss Ray "Call Him 'Sal'" Stefanelli. The two exchanged cell phone numbers, so Gold can invite Upshall to future charity events staged by Gold.
The final-table event is scheduled to air on Fox Sports Net some time in the late winter or early spring of 2009. Fans are welcome to attend Thursday's final round. Doors open at 3 p.m. with cards in the air at 4. Admission is free.
USPC UNDER WAY: The WPT isn't the only big game in town. Yesterday, the 2008 United States Poker Championship kicked off at the Taj Mahal. It continues through Oct. 8, with the $10,000 buy-in Main Event slated to begin Oct.5.
For a complete scheduled of events, go to http://trumptaj.com/media/docs/tajMahal/USPCPoker.pdf