Daniel Buzgon

On Wednesday, New Jersey’s Daniel Buzgon will be one of six players competing for nearly three-quarters of a million bucks. He’ll do it on the main stage inside Las Vegas’ HyperX Esports Arena, which is where the World Poker Tour will host its Borgata Winter Poker Open final table.

The three-time World Series of Poker Circuit ring winner has played for big money before – he’s amassed just over $2 million playing live tournaments since 2007 – but this is a unique opportunity. He’s guaranteed $154,734 in prize money, which is already the third-largest score of his career. If he finishes third or better, he’ll surpass his career-high score of $335,433 for finishing third in the 2011 WPT Borgata Poker Open. He also finished fourth in the 2012 WPT bestbet Jacksonville for $94,624.

“It’s definitely exciting. I don’t play as many tournaments I used to,” Buzgon told PokerNews. “I kind of just stay local in New Jersey and play whenever Borgata has something. I mainly play online. I’ve switched to mainly online cash games, so these moments don’t come up as often as they could’ve in the past. It’s definitely a good feeling to be back here on this stage.”

Dealing with the Delay

Buzgon not only had to wait to put himself in a position for a big score, but he also had to wait five weeks to play it out. After reaching the final six in February, Buzgon and company went on hiatus. The delay has been met with mixed reactions.

“I’d much rather have it over and done with and not have to think about what will happen in five weeks.”

“I think everyone, as a player, if things are going well you just want to just get it over with,” Buzgon admitted. “You don’t want to give anyone a chance to figure you out or improve themselves. It’s mixed feelings. Obviously, it’s cool to come out here and have your friends and family watch you on stage, but I’d much rather have it over and done with and not have to think about what will happen in five weeks. You kind of lose a little bit of your rhythm. I don’t remember any hands from the tournament at all and that’s a little frustrating, but it is what it is.”

Speaking of friends and family flying out, player contingents have varied in size and enthusiasm. For Buzgon his rail will be comprised small and subdued.

“My dad just had foot surgery on Monday and can’t be on his feet for a few months,” he said. “He and my mom will be watching online, but I’ll have 5-8 friends who will be here, which is plenty enough for me.”

Buzgon has also been taking in the action from the L.A. Poker Classic and Gardens Poker Championship, the two final tables that played out inside the HyperX Esports Arena. Did having his final table scheduled last give him any sort of edge?

“I don’t think it can be a disadvantage,” he said. “You get to see player tendencies. The first two tables you get to see the players go through hands and stuff like that. Maybe they’re playing a little too tight as compared to if they weren’t in this arena. You can make some guesses as to how your table is going to play. I guess it’s an advantage.”

Daniel Buzgon
Daniel Buzgon in WPT action.

Online Ambassadorship

Earlier this year, just prior to making the final table in fact, Buzgon became a Borgata sponsored pro, something that had been in the works since late last year.

“It took a little bit of time to get all the paperwork and stuff like that,” he said of becoming sponsored. “It was in December when it started but wasn’t official until just before the Borgata Winter series. Duties include mainly playing a lot online, promoting the site, and trying to get new players on the site.”

“It’s really annoying, the current state of online poker.”

Given he’s now a figurehead in the New Jersey online poker scene, Buzgon offered his thoughts on the recent Wire Act news that have disrupted the industry.

“I think everyone in the states that have online poker at the moment are concerned. It’s really annoying, the current state of online poker,” he said. “Eight years after Black Friday and only 3-4 states have subpar options as a player. It’s frustrating people making these decisions based on not just online poker but sports betting, lotteries, and other things that are more luck-based than skill-based. It’s very annoying.”

While he’s not exactly thrilled with the state of online poker, Buzgon is optimistic about the WPT’s push to blend poker and Esports.

“I haven’t really watched a lot of Esports events. I hear stories about how many people actually watch, it’s kind of mind-blowing to me. I don’t like to watch poker as a spectator, I’d rather be up there or doing a lot of other things, but getting a crowd like this is exciting and is probably good for poker in the long run getting new people in there.”

Buzgon is excited and focused for his final table appearance, but he’s already looking forward to his next visit to Vegas.

“I haven’t missed a summer in a long time,” he said when asked if he’ll be back for the WSOP. “I always say I’m going to play less, but I’ll be out here. I just booked a house with my friends. I’ll be out here the whole time.”

For more on Buzgon follow him on Twitter @DBuzgon.

WPT Borgata Main Event Final Table

Seat Player Home Country Stack (big blinds)
1 Ian O’Hara USA 5,100,000 (34)
2 Dave Farah USA 18,850,000 (126)
3 Joseph Di Rosa Rojas Venezuela 5,800,000 (39)
4 Brandon Hall USA 14,100,000 (94)
5 Vinicius Lima USA 3,550,000 (24)
6 Daniel Buzgon USA 9,100,000 (61)

The WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open final table will play out at 4 p.m. local time on Wednesday. The winner of that event will take home a $728,430 first-place prize, and of course PokerNews will bring you a recap of all the action.

Images courtesy of WPT/Joe Giron/PokerPhotoArchive.

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