Home Casino Diary of a Professional Poker Player: Prologue of WPT Montreal

Diary of a Professional Poker Player: Prologue of WPT Montreal

by Paul Hewson
0 comment
WTP Montreal

Poker is the greatest game ever invented – there’s no argument about that. But who has the best poker room in the world? Aside from our online poker rooms, you can’t do much better than the Playground Poker Club in Kahnawake, Quebec, just across the St. Lawrence River from beautiful downtown Montreal.

If you’ve been there, or even if you’ve seen it on TV, you know what I’m talking about. The Playground has 42 poker tables (as per the latest Poker Atlas count) up and running on a regular day, but when they host a big event – like WPT Montreal, for example – that number climbs well over 100.

They’ll need every table they can get their hands on this month. Thousands of people will flock to the Playground starting May 9 for the latest visit by the WPT – that’s the World Poker Tour, the organization that fueled the poker boom of the early Aughts.

I will be there with bells on. This is my first major poker tournament since the COVID-19 pandemic; the fine people at Joe Wager have asked me to give you an inside look at WPT Montreal, what makes it so special and what strategies I use to maximize my chances of winning.

Day 1 of this prestigious event is just around the corner, so without further ado, let’s peel back the curtain and show you what this particular poker pro does to get fully prepared for battle.

Why Play Tournament Poker?

It’s always good to have a sense of purpose before you take on any adventure. Not every poker pro will play tournaments; if you’re doing this to make a living, the travel and accommodation costs will put a big dent in your profits, so you’ll have to compensate by doing one or more of the following:

  1. Play the tournaments with the biggest entry fees (preferably $10K or more).
  2. Play cash games on the side.
  3. Do something poker-adjacent.

As it happens, the biggest buy-in for WPT Montreal is CAN$10,500 for the High Roller. I’m not a sponsored pro, and I don’t sell action, so that’s too rich for my blood. There’s no satellite for that event, either – but there is one for the $3,500 Main Event, so I’ll be firing one or more $400 bullets at that, along with several other tournaments on the schedule.

Options 2 and 3 will help defray my costs. The cash games at the Playground are already delicious enough – literally, since you get free food if you play $2/$5 or higher. However, they’re even better when the big tournaments are in town.

I also have a side gig as your humble embedded poker journalist. If you don’t happen to be in the media, the Playground isn’t a full-on casino, so I doubt there will be any opportunities for advantage play, although they did add a room for “Electronic Table Games” fairly recently. Might be worth a look.

Is the Food Any Good?

Yes – and this is very important. If you’re going to play the tournaments, pay the nominal fee for access to the daily buffet (it was $20 the last time I played). You can’t predict when you’re going to get knocked out of the tournament you’re playing, so unless you go full-on nerd and pack some protein bars in your bag, the buffet is easily the best way to get the nutrition you need.

You could also just head over to one of their dedicated restaurant spaces, the main one being the Rail Coal Fire Bistro. This will give you access to some higher-end food, but in my experience, you won’t be able to hear the announcements coming over the PA from the poker room. This makes it impractical if you’re playing either tournament or cash poker.

Personally, I was very happy with what was available at the buffet during my previous stops at the Playground. And the price was certainly right. Unless you have dietary issues, don’t mug yourself or the Playground by bringing your own food – and by the way, I highly recommend only bringing one of those very small backpacks with you, just enough to fit an extra T-shirt or two and whatever sundries you need to get through the day.

Speaking of prices, for a major world city, you can’t do much better than Montreal; thanks to a combination of rent control and the “Anglo flight” of the 1970s, which saw waves of English-speakers leave Quebec, it’s easy and affordable to book a quality room for an extended stay.

Montreal also has a major subway and pretty good public transit overall, so that can also help keep your costs down if you want to avoid renting a car. All of this makes events like WPT Montreal ideal if you’re thinking about dipping your toes in tournament poker. Maybe I’ll even see you there at the tables later this week.

author avatar
Paul Hewson
Paul Hewson (not that one) is a poker player/writer from the Pacific Northwest, appearing on the World Poker Tour, MILLIONS Tour and the WSOP Circuit series. Hewson is the senior writer for the Bodog Poker family; Texas Hold’em is his specialty, with side hustles in 8-Game and Badugi. He’s an Abe Limon Guy.

You may also like

JoeWager is your leading source for trending topics relevant to offshore gamblers, including betting resources, sports & casino guides, entertainment topics, politics and more.

Editors' Picks

Latest Articles

Copyright 2023 – All Right Reserved.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More