Five Players to Watch in The Return: a Borgata Championship Event

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Today, The Return: a Borgata Championship Event kicks off at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa at Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Running from January 2-8, The Return: A Borgata Championship Event features four action-packed tournaments, including a $3 million guaranteed Main Event that guarantees $1 million to the winner.

The Return is a $5,300 buy-in $3 million guaranteed No-Limit Hold’em event that features a brace of Day 1s. Day 1A shuffles up and deals at 11:00 a.m. on January 4 with Day 1B starting at the same time on January 5. Days 2 and 3 get underway at 11:00 a.m. on January 6 and January 7, respectively, with the final table commencing on January 8; the final table’s starting time depends on when Day 3 concludes.

Before $3 million The Return, there is the Borgata’s first-ever Mystery Bounty event. It costs $2,200 to enter, and guarantees at least $1 million worth of mystery bounties. Rounding off the week-long series are a $2,100 buy-in Bounty Event where you receive $1,000 for every opponent you send to the showers, and a $1,100 Super Survivors tournament where one in ten will walk away with $10,000.

PokerNews‘ live reporting team will be on the ground throughout the series, bringing you all of the action as it happens. Our team is providing updates on the $2,200 Mystery Bounty, the $2,100 Borgata Bounty, and, of course, the $3 million guaranteed The Return Main Event.

Click here to read out live updates from The Return!

Here are five players, in no particular order, to keep an eye on during The Return:

Frank Funaro

Frank Funaro
Frank Funaro

Back in 2016, Frank Funaro notched his first-ever tournament score in a tournament at Borgata. Since then, he’s amassed $2,281,579 in tournament earnings – which currently places him 18th on New Jersey’s all-time money list – including a career-high $1,301,000 for finishing fifth in the WPT World Championship just a few weeks ago.

That career-high score was the cherry on top of a career year in which he amassed $1,556,530 in lifetime earnings according to The Hendon Mob. That was nearly three times more than the $589,946 he earned in 2021. Oh, and he also captured a WSOP Online bracelet back in October when he won Event #29: $1,000 NLH Championship for $94,097.

Funaro cut his chops at Borgata and used that experience to go out into the wider poker world where he’s found success. Now, the time has come for him to return to his home casino and maybe, just maybe, use that experience to win big at The Return.

Cherish Andrews

Cherish Andrews
Cherish Andrews

Cherish Andrews ended her 2022 on a bit of a heater at the WPT World Championship at Wynn Las Vegas, and she’ll be looking to keep that momentum in the New Year.

Back on December 18, she finished runner-up to Dylan Linde in the WPT Wynn $10,500 High Roller for a career-high $259,200. The following day in the $1,100 buy-in, $200K GTD No-Limit Hold’em, which attracted 736 entries and offered up a $721,280 prize pool, Andrews found her way to the winner’s circle claiming the trophy and $131,912 top prize by defeating MSPT Hall of Famer Rob Wazwaz in heads-up play.

It proved a profitable WPT World Championship for Andrews, who in addition to the two big back-to-back scores, also won $78,045 three days prior thanks to a sixth-place finish in the $3,000 NLH tournament. All told, she won $469,157 over the course of five days!

Andrews confirmed with PokerNews that she’ll be at Borgata, so don’t be surprised to see her continue her winning ways!

Dan Silver

Dan silver
Dan silver

Known for his work in the hockey world and a lifelong Philadelphia Flyers fan, Dan Silver is a writer for Philly is Flyer and a contributor for both the O&D Puckcast and Getting’ Bullied Podcast.

Well, he’s taking a break from the ice to focus on the poker felt as he tweeted that he’ll be headed to Atlantic City to compete in The Return.

Jamie Kerstetter

Jamie Kerstetter
Jamie Kerstetter

Jamie Kerstetter is returning home! No, we’re not talking about the LFG Podcast, but rather her home state of New Jersey. The lauded poker commentator, who recently hosted a Ladies Meet-Up Game during the WPT World Championship, will be back in the Garden State to play The Return.

This past summer, Kerstetter and her teammate Corey Paggeot finished in second place in the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Event #55: $1,000 Tag Team for $45,756, a career-high score for Kerstetter.

Her previous best was $44,937 for taking 12th in the 2012 WPT $3,500 Borgata Poker Open, so she’s no stranger to success in Atlantic City. That same year, she placed fourth in the Borgata Winter Open $2,150 NLH Bounty for $20,370, and the following year she took 22nd in the WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open for $14,933.

More recently, Kerstetter finished sixth in the WPT Wynn $1,100 Ladies World Championship for $21,934.

Greg Himmelbrand

Greg Himmelbrand
Greg Himmelbrand

If there’s a quality poker tournament on the East Coast, you can bet that Greg Himmelbrand will be there. The poker pro has $2,250,346 in lifetime tournament earnings according to The Hendon Mob, which includes a career-high $243,630 score from the Borgata back in 2013. It came when he topped a 2,899-entry field to win the Borgata Fall Poker Open $560 NLH Deep Stack Re-Entry.

Himmelbrand is also a two-time Mid-States Poker Tour (MSPT) champ. His first title came back in 2015 when he won the MSPT Maryland Live for $72,910, and then three years later he won the MSPT Potawatomi in Milwaukee, Wisconsin for $125,958.

A three-time WSOP Circuit ring winner, Himmelbrand is always a force in any tournament he plays, which is why he’s worth keeping an eye on in The Return!

The Return: A Borgata Championship Event Schedule

The Return

Date Time Tournament
Mon 2 Jan 11:00 a.m. $2,200 NLHE Mystery Bounty Day 1A
  7:00 p.m. $2,200 NLHE Mystery Bounty Day 1B
Tue 3 Jan 12:00 p.m. NLHE Mystery Bounty Day 2
  4:00 p.m. $600 NLHE Big Stack The Return Qualifier
Wed 4 Jan 11:00 a.m. $5,300 NLHE The Return Day 1A
Thu 5 Jan 11:00 a.m. $5,300 NLHE The Return Day 1B
Fri 6 Jan 11:00 a.m. The Return Day 2
  3:00 p.m. $2,100 NLHE $1,000 Bounty Day 1
Sat 7 Jan 11:00 a.m. The Return Day 3
  1:00 p.m. NLHE $1,000 Bounty Day 2
  2:00 p.m. $1,100 NLHE Super Survivor
Sun 8 Jan TBD The Return Final Table
  12:00 p.m. NLHE Super Survivor Day 2

New Jersey
New Jersey


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Executive Editor U.S.

Executive Editor US, PokerNews Podcast co-host & 2013 WSOP Bracelet Winner.




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