While the EPT Barcelona rolls on and the WPT Legends of Poker gets set to kick off, another, smaller tournament series is going on here in Montreal, or rather just outside of Montreal at the Playground Poker Club in Kahnawake. Montreal, with its low rent, excellent nightlife and legal online poker, is home to a lot of young pros and aspiring pros, so the Montreal Poker Expo is doing well despite competing with these other, higher-profile series. Event #1, for instance, was a multi-day charity event with a $165 buy-in, which beat its $100,000 guarantee by a whopping 55%; it was hosted by hockey legends Larry Robinson and the “three Guys” Lafleur, Lapointe and Carbonneau, plus poker celebrity and One Drop winner Antonio Esfandiari.
The Montreal Poker Expo replaces the annual summer “Festival” which has been held at around this time in previous years; along with the Winter Festival, it is one of two week-long series which Playground runs independently. This is in addition to numerous larger series that the card room has run in affiliation with the World Poker Tour (WPT) and/or PartyPoker.
There are a total of 14 events in the series, eight of which are already in the bag. Buy-ins range from $60 up to the $1100 Main Event, which kicks off tomorrow. Four of the events are multi-day affairs, including the main and a $550 Freezout postlim.
Playground is known for putting a lot of polish and added value into its events, and the Poker Expo is no exception, with nice-looking trophies being given out even for the smallest events and some of the best in-house reporting I’ve seen for an event this size. Although the final tables aren’t being covered hand-for-hand like you would see at the World Series of Poker, you get well-written blog-style updates on eliminations throughout even the lowest buy-in tournaments. They even cover the deal-making, which is often surprising and a little bit funny: Event #8, for instance, a single-day $220 Bounty event was chopped eleven ways; I didn’t even know it was possible to negotiate a deal before getting down to a final table!
The Main Event has a $500,000 guarantee and capacity for potentially up to 1000 players total, or $1,000,000 in the prize pool. It will run over 4 days, with three starting flights and next-day re-entry. Play begins 300 BB deep, there are 45-minute levels on the first day, and one-hour thereafter.
I’ll be entering the Sunday flight for the main and reporting on the experience day by day, including both some hands which I’ll analyze and simply how I find the experience, seeing as it’s my first time playing a four-figure buy-in. Regardless, I promise that I will not chop it eleven ways. Three, tops.
Alex Weldon (@benefactumgames) is a freelance writer, game designer and semipro poker player from Montreal, Quebec, Canada.