A lucrative tournament series always causes cash game grinders to exit their element, and the Borgata Winter Poker Open is no different.
Coleem Chestnut fits that bill, as he has five years of poker under his belt but only a couple of years of tournament experience. He laughs as he recalls the first time he tried his hand at tournament poker, which resulted in a final table.
"I busted in 9th," he said, replaying the exact action of a lost ace-king-against-jacks flip. "I was heartbroken. I couldn't get out of bed for two days."
The proud Brooklyn native estimated he spends 80 percent of his poker hours playing cash games, mainly 2-5 with some 5-10 mixed in. When the 35-year-old does dip his toes into tournament waters, Borgata is his favorite destination. The atmosphere, in particular, stands out, he said.
"The crowd is great," he said. "You've got a mix of celebrity players and regular players."
Chestnut has logged time at the tables with actor James Woods and Miles Austin of the Dallas Cowboys. His best celebrity experience, though, was playing against Jahri Evans, offensive tackle for the New Orleans Saints.
"I stacked him several times in a cash game," Chestnut said. "He was throwing money around, it was awesome."
The session turned out to be his biggest cash win, as he turned his $500 buy in into $9,700.
As for the rest of the tournament series, Chestnut said he's eyeing six or seven more events, including contemplating a shot at the main event.
"I haven't made a decision yet," he said.