The Full Tilt Poker Montreal Main Event kicked off on Friday at Playground Poker Club, and through three levels of play, 486 players have already registered on Day 1a. The tournament will need to field 1,000 players in order to reach the C$1,000,000 guarantee, and with three starting days, the event is a favorite to do so.
Playground Poker Club, roughly 20 minutes south of downtown Montreal in the Mohawk Territory of Kahnawake, opened in 2010, and hosted a World Poker Tour event in November of 2012. Canadian Jonathan Roy won the event, earning $784,101 and a championship belt. The property offers 20 tables for cash games, featuring no-limit hold’em cash games from $1/$2 to $10/$25 and pot-limit Omaha games from $1/2 to $5/$10.
The tournament room is massive, holding 70 tables and a main stage for a feature table. The room is all black with black tables, and the walls are filled with Full Tilt Poker insignia and photos of Playground Poker ambassadors like Antonio Esfandiari, Phil Laak, Chanracy Khun, Gavin Smith, Bruce Buffer, and the aforementioned Roy.
Under the largest Full Tilt sign in the room are three big, bold French words: “Bienvenue Aux Jouers.” Welcome players.
Beyond the hometown Québécois like Yann Dion, Jonathan Duhamel, and Sam Chartier, there are players from all over the world making themselves feel welcome in this chic venue. Full Tilt Ambassadors Dermot Blain (Ireland), Martins Adeniya (United Kingdom), and Ben Jenkins (United Kingdom), Team PokerStars Pros Victor Ramdin (USA), David Williams (USA), and Vanessa Rousso (France) are in attendance.
Some of the Americans playing, like New Jersey native Vinny Pahuja, were already in Canada to play the World Championship of Online Poker and opted to head down to play in this highly-anticipated event.
“Almost 500 players already,” Pahuja said on the first break. “That’s awesome.”
Full Tilt Poker Professional Gus Hansen is also scheduled to play, but he hasn’t turned up yet on Day 1a.
The new Full Tilt, led by PokerStars’ parent company the Rational Group, is looking to establish themselves with a live poker tour, and the Playground Poker Club would fit in as a yearly stop. Unlike Galway, where there was recently an overlay, Montreal, the eighth-largest city in North America according to census data, has a very large international airport just 20 minutes outside of the downtown area. The downtown itself is also stunning and busy, making this an ideal stop for poker players because there are several fun things to do off of the felt.
Likewise, if the North American Poker Tour returns as online gaming becomes legalized in the U.S., the Rational Group could use this for both the NAPT and the FTP tours.
For now, the Playground Poker Club will continue to steamroll forward. According to Canada Poker, Event #1, a C$135+15 reentry event during this festival, attracted 1,605 entries. Alim Perales took it down, earning $28,842 after a three-handed deal. Eric Richer and Nazmul Huda earned $23,842 and $20,291 for finishing second and third, respectively.
Be on the lookout for more features and interviews straight from the Playground Poker Club here on PokerNews throughout the Full Tilt Poker Montreal Main Event.
Photo courtesy of the Full Tilt Poker blog.