Albert Lea native wins $750K in high-stakes poker tournament in Vegas

Published 4:11 pm Wednesday, July 13, 2022

The movie “Rounders,” which starred Matt Damon and Edward Norton, was about two friends trying to pay off an old debt, essentially Matt Damon’s character trying to recreate the game of high-stakes poker. During the movie McDermott talks about short stacks and long odds.

Short stacks and long odds could also apply to Quincy Borland, a native of Albert Lea and poker player who recently won a $1,000 Million Dollar Bounty event, otherwise known as tournament 68, in Sin City last week, with the first day held at Bally’s Convention Center. The second and third days were held at Paris Las Vegas Hotel and Casino, with the final at the TV stage at Bally’s. 

And while he did not win the biggest bounty, he netted over $750,000 and won a bracelet. 

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To compete, Borland had to pay $1,000 to buy into the game, which started with four Day 1 flights scattered across July Fourth weekend that drew 14,112 players. Borland opened July 2 and played from noon to roughly 2:30 a.m.

The top players from those days advanced to day two. Borland described it as a “lot smaller field.”

He admitted he was surprised he won, and said winning hadn’t set in yet.

“Going into day two I had a decent shot,” he said over a phone interview. “So I had a decent stack, I felt comfortable. But then I didn’t just get any hands, I just kind of sat there most of the day.”

Day two was also the start of the bounties.

“The bounties were mystery bounties,” Borland said. “Each time you knocked somebody out … you hit the random thing on the iPad and it would give you a random bonus. If you get a chest, which you’d have to go up on stage, you’d pick out an envelope and it could be $1 million or it could be, the smallest prizes were $1,000 up to $5,000 I think it was.”

According to Borland, after a player was knocked out of the tournament, the person who eliminated them would take the eliminated person’s card.

“Then you would go up to these little stations set up around the tournament, and you would hand them your player’s card, your driver’s license and the card of the player you knocked out, and then you get a mystery bonus,” he said.

The problem, at least according to Borland, was that by leaving the table a player could miss blinds and hands during an on-going game.

He continued his sit-and-wait approach on the third day.

“When the players kept on getting knocked out, I’m like, ‘Oh, I think I might make the final table,’” he said. “I’ve been playing poker for a long time, and to make the final table is pretty big.”

And then he made it to the final table, though he said he came into it with the “shortest stack.”

“I was just trying to survive,” he said.

During that time, he admitted to blocking out outside noise, just focusing on the game and the bracelet.

And when it was down to two people, he said his opponent initially had a significant chip lead, and said a lot of that final game was “a blur.”

“There’s so much adrenaline pumping through you, so much excitement,” he said.

He also said there were a lot of people standing around the table cheering for him, an experience he called “awesome.”    

“A buddy of mine [from Albert Lea] … ended up showing up,” he said. “He was going to try to make it to watch the final table and he ended up getting there like 10 minutes after the final table was over.”

He described winning as a dream come true.

His next step will be a tournament of champions where he will play against all the World Series of Poker winners at Bally’s and Paris. In earning a bracelet, Borland thought he was the first person from the Albert Lea area to win one, and said getting one was the most coveted thing in the world of poker. According to Borland, the bracelets are made in Owatonna.

“It’s the very last tournament, so then they can have all the other bracelet winners play against each other,” he said.

“There’s no buy-in, and the prize is supposed to be $1 million,” he said.

Borland himself said by the end of the tournament he only took four bounties, including his own.

Borland started playing poker as a way to have fun with friends.

“Back in the early 2000s we’d hang out after work, play some poker back when it was on TV, ESPN,” he said. “It was the thing to do and people still enjoy it quite a bit.

“I’d play for a lot of money later. Ten dollar buy-in with friends and just have a good time. Not go out.”

Borland, who lives in Nevada, described the game as “enjoyable” and said poker was a good way to incorporate math into a game.

“I instantly do math in my head …,” he said. “Say I have a 30% chance to win the pot and the player’s betting 20% of the pot or 30% of the pot, then I know my odds and then I can come in.”

He described poker as a lot of math and reading the opponent.