Amateur poker player Jason Acosta has been crowned the winner of the inaugural PokerStars New Jersey Festival Main Event while Twitch gaming celebrity Jason Somerville won the annual charity event at the Chad Brown Memorial Poker Tournament which was held in New Jersey last week.

With about 208 entrants, the $1,100 Main Event did not attract a great deal of players though some heavyweights were present. Acosta grabbed the first place winning $38,220 and tripling his total live tournament winnings in the process.

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Acosta prevailed over New Jersey online poker star Michael Gagliano in a heads up game to clinch first place. Gagliano took second place which netted him $28,116. This was Gagliano’s second win of the festival, the first having been the $2,000 Six-Max event. Acosta had qualified for the tournament through a 5,000 StarsCoin satellite held via the PokerStars’s New Jersey website, reinforcing the influence of online channels. He decided to take a week off from work to try his luck.

In a statement, Acosta said “I usually don’t get to play live tournaments too much. Obviously, when you can get into a $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 a $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 headline tournament for the festival was held in Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City. On Day 3, with 23 players the event was already in the money. Several top poker stars like WSOP bracelet winners Jack Duong and Chris Dombrowski, two-time World Poker Tour winner Darren Elias and PokerStars Team Online Pro Randy Lew were in the running.

Although Eli Kim grabbed an early lead, over time Acosta quickly pulled ahead by virtue of leveraging his strong suit which is winning flips. Acosta acknowledged that going up against an accomplished player such as Gagliano had put him at a disadvantage but he said that he waited to get the right hands to take the lead and ultimately win.

Hosted by Daniel Negreanu, the 3rd Annual Chad Brown Memorial Poker Tournament was held to raise funds for the T.J.Martell Foundation for Leukaemia, Cancer and AIDS Research. The event saw a total of 87 players register and fifty percent of the total prize pool was donated to the foundation.

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