The PokerStars Festival New Jersey $1,100 Main Event concluded with Jason Acosta topping a field of 208 players in Atlantic City. He entered an online satellite at PokerStars NJ for about $50 and turned that into a $38,220 payday.

“I usually don’t get to play live tournaments too much,” he said. “Obviously, when you can get into an $1,100 event for a couple of StarsCoin, it’s going to make it worth the trip.

“I don’t know if I would normally drive down here to play an $1,100 event that would take me from Tuesday to Friday. But, since it’s basically a freeroll, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.”

The road to victory

Acosta described himself as being “good at winning flips” and proved that on Day 3, when he returned as one of 23 players. He had stiff competition from the likes of World Poker Tour champion Darren Elias and Team PokerStars Online Pro Randy “nanonoko” Lew.

However, Acosta beat them all to the final table largely by being good at winning flips. He doubled up with ace-king versus a pair of jacks before winning another key hand with ace-five against a pair of nines on the final table bubble.

The final table

Acosta was one of the shortest stacks at the beginning of the final table, with Matt Affleck holding the chip lead. Acosta outlasted several players to make the final five before winning with tens against ace-king to double through Affleck in another flip.

He then managed to double up again with ace-king against ace-queen to take a commanding position with four players remaining. However, by the time he began heads-up play against Michael Gagliano, he was on the wrong end of a 7-to-1 chip disparity.

Overcoming a heads-up deficit

Gagliano is an online poker veteran with a WSOP bracelet, and he held a huge chip lead over an amateur Acosta. However, the fairy tale was not over for him.

First he held with sixes to double against ace-nine before finding the right end of a straight-over-straight cooler to take the lead. Aptly, he won the final hand with another race; his ace-king overcame sixes when the board counterfeited Gagliano’s hand.

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PokerStars Festival New Jersey final table results

  1. Jason Acosta – $38,220
  2. Michael Galiano – $28,116
  3. Eli Kim – $20,83
  4. David Johnston – $15,215
  5. Matt Affleck – $11,193
  6. Sridhar Sangannagari – $8,234
  7. Rocco Dicondina – $6,057
  8. Peter Smyth – $4,455
Matt Perry

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A former editor of the Full Tilt blog, Matt Perry has been involved in the regulated online gambling industry for a decade. He has worn many hats including copywriter, content manager and reporter in the poker and casino worlds.