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Diary of a Professional Poker Player: Three Bounties and the Truth

by Paul Hewson
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Playground Poker

It’s already been a rollercoaster ride for Paul Hewson at the WPT Montreal.  Let’s take a look at the latest word from the Playground Poker Club before heading to our top-rated online poker rooms.


Thursday, May 9

I arrive in Montreal, a bit later in the day than I’d originally planned. There are three “big” trophies up for grabs at WPT Montreal:

  • WPT500 Montreal Championship ($590 buy-in)
  • WPT Prime Montreal Championship ($1,150)
  • WPT Montreal Championship ($3,500)

Flights for “Day 1” of WPT500 take up the first three days of the schedule. It’s just over an hour for me to get from here to the Playground Poker Club in Kahnawake; I could enter Day 1B of the WPT500 Montreal Championship, which starts at 5 PM ET, but I’ll be there until the wee hours of the morning if I do well. I’ll take my beauty rest instead.

Friday, May 10

Day 1C starts at 11 AM. I arrive an hour early, get my Playground ID card updated and sign the WPT media waiver, which specifically says I’m not allowed to divulge any specific results until they do. I’ll tell you what I can, though, starting with this: the buffet no longer exists. Stupid COVID. I did get a hot tip from one of the dealers, though: the chicken teriyaki at the Drunken Dragon is the best thing on-site.

If only I had lasted all the way to the dinner break. It was somewhere unspecific near the end of Level 5 (40-minute levels), and I was down to about 40 bigs after some ups and downs. I opened in the middle position with KQo, the big blind called, it was a King-high flop on a relatively safe board. I fired the flop – he called. I fired the turn – he called.

The river was another “safe” card. I thought about betting tiny to induce a bluff; I even thought about checking back. Would he call three streets with KJ? KT? Any King? I was short enough at this point to go ahead and jam. He called and flipped over AA. Well played. Respect.

I would say the field was tougher than what I remember from five years ago. There were some “spots” at the beginning, but they punted their stacks to other players before I could get any of their chips. Oh well; if I perhaps modestly assume I’m an average player, I expect to bust out 85% of the time. If I play five tournaments, it’s a coin flip whether I’ll win a prize – and it’ll probably be a min-cash, which is what happened last time I was here.

Saturday, May 11

I could go to the Playground today and play some cash games, but I’ve got work to do, so I’ll just tell you more about those “Electronic Table Games” I mentioned in the prologue.

There are a lot of them. I don’t think you’ll find any advantage play opportunities; their Jacks or Better video poker only pays out 8-6 (8 for a Full House, 6 for a Flush) instead of the 9-6 that the “full pay” machines give you, so I didn’t even bother checking out the other games to see if they might pay out more than 100% Return to Player (RTP).

Nor did I see any big progressive jackpots attached to the slots. They’ve taken over the floor space where the poker tables used to be; those are now upstairs on the third floor of the Playground’s swanky new building. At least that’s where the main poker room is. For the WPT, they still have some tables on the ground floor, and they still have the infamous festival tent, which is where I played yesterday – exactly 100 tables in all, a bit fewer than I expected.

Sunday, May 12

I was a grumpy Gus when I woke up this morning. I realized I could (and probably should) have re-entered for Day 1E of the WPT500 event – I want one of those trophies, dang it. Also, most of the tournies on the schedule start at 4 PM or later. Not ideal when you’re relying on public transit.

A couple of hours at the $1/$3 cash tables cheered me up. Turns out you don’t have to play $2/$5 or higher to get free food anymore; the menus are somewhat limited at the lower stakes, but I still enjoyed my Western omelette and coffee. And I made $80 with hardly any effort.

Then it was on to Event No. 3: the $400 Bounty. I crashed out very close to the bubble, Top 40 in a field of 230 or so. Still, I did collect three $100 bounties, including two on the same hand where I raised and correctly called with AKo, beating a smaller Ace and a pocket pair. Bounties: the quicker picker-upper. Does this portend well for Week 2 of WPT Montreal? Stay tuned.

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.

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