The World Poker Tour (WPT) wrapped up its tournament in Montreal earlier this week, which was considered the grand return of professional poker in Canada. The tournament had the highest number of participants in the history of Canadian poker, which was one of the signs of the tournament’s great success. High profile players and professional athletes such as Daniel Negreanu and Michael Phelps were largely responsible for the excitement that surrounded the Playground Poker Club, which hosted the WPT tournament. However, fans were hopeful that a Canadian player would win the jackpot on home turf, and on the night of November 27, that hope paid off when Jonathan Roy of Boucherville, Quebec knocked off the competition to become Canada’s poker champion.
The Montreal tournament hosted a Canadian record 1,173 players with a buy-in of $3,300 a player. The tournament offered two ‘Day 1s’ to allow players to re-buy a seat at the table if they were eliminated in the opening round, which was regarded as one of the reasons for such a high turnout. However, the excitement regarding Michael Phelps and his participation in the games was also an important reason for the tournament’s success because Phelps is highly revered by fans and fellow poker players alike for his successful Olympic career.
However, while the admiration of Phelps was felt throughout Montreal, fans remained hopeful that a Canadian would win the whole tournament. The final table was eventually won by Jonathon Roy, a suburbanite of the Montreal Metropolitan Area who claimed the first place prize of $755,601. Roy is a relative newcomer to the poker community, but at 25 years old is quickly establishing himself as a player not to be taken lightly. In Montreal, he had to outplay several poker veterans including Gavin Smith, Jeff Gross, and Pascal Lefrancois who all have been regular participants in some of the world’s biggest poker tournaments. However, Roy admits the most intimidating player was Michael Phelps.
“It was unbelievable to have Michael Phelps on the rail. I got to win the title and shake him by the hand.”
His victory in Montreal also won Roy a seat at the final table of the WPT next May inside the Bellagio Casino in Las Vegas. Montreal was a good test of his skill but poker’s most dangerous players participate in the Vegas tournaments, and Roy will need to keep his wits about him to keep up with the kingpins of the game.