The record-setting attendance at the first ever WPT Montreal showed that poker is alive and well in Canada. So it seems only appropriate that two pros who each live less than 30 minutes from the second-largest city in the country should face off for the title.
Pascal Lefrancois came in with several big cashes and a World Series of Poker bracelet to his credit, but Jonathan Roy would take his turn as champion in Montreal. Roy’s first major title netted him $799,710, far eclipsing his previous best for an EPT side event victory at the Grand Final back in April. Lefrancois was one of several major hurdles for Roy on his way to the title Tuesday, including another pro in Gavin Smith who has a WPT title and WSOP bracelet of his own, and Jeff Gross, an accomplished player whose superstar rail included both Antonio Esfandiari and Olympian Michael Phelps.
Peter Kaemmerlen entered as one of the two short stacks at the final table, but found a great spot on the first hand to try to double into contention. Kaemmerlen opened to 300,000, Gross three-bet to 1.26 million and Kammerlen four-bet all-in for about 2.4 million. Gross eventually called with A T but Kammerlen’s J J was ahead. They stayed that way on the 7 5 4 flop and 9 turn, but a cruel A on the river ended Kaemmerlen’s tournament in a flash, sending him away in sixth.
Sylvain Siebert opened the final table with the chiplead, but an early misstep cut his stack down dramatically. Siebert opened to 320,000 on the button and Lefrancois called, bringing an 8 7 3 flop. Lefrancois check-called a 440,000 bet from Siebert and the turn was the 9. Lefrancois took the lead, betting 820,000, and Siebert raised all-in. Lefrancois called with Q J and was ahead with a flush against Siebert’s A 7, and the J on the river forced Siebert to ship most of his stack to Lefrancois.
Siebert’s stack continued to shrink, and though he managed a double-up through Roy with an ace-high flush it would be a short celebration. On the very next hand Siebert open-shoved with 6 5 and Roy woke up with Q Q in the big blind. After the K K 4 A 7 runout provided no help to Siebert’s hand his tournament came to an end in fifth place.
Gavin Smith came into this tournament with the most experience of the six. This was his fifth career WPT final table, with more than $5 million in lifetime tournament earnings to his name as well. Smith started with just 13 big blinds at the final table but he managed to stick around for some time, even finding a double-up in the process. His luck ran out four-handed, though, as Smith’s all-in from the small blind with A 5 was called by Gross in the big blind with K 7. The 8 8 2 flop looked good but the 7 on the turn gave Gross the lead. The river was the 3 and Smith was eliminated in fourth place.
When three-handed play began each of the three remaining players had plenty of chips to play with. Each took their turn at the top of the counts and it took more than 100 hands to finally get down to heads-up. Exactly 100 hands after Smith went out in fourth, Gross seemed poised to take out Lefrancois and take his shot at Roy heads-up, until a cruel runout changed all that. Lefrancois open-shoved from the button and Gross called from the small blind, setting up a coinflip between Lefrancois’ K T and Gross’ 4 4. The J 8 4 was an excellent one for Gross, giving him a set, but the Q was the worst card in the deck, giving Lefrancois outs to both the straight and flush. The A completed Lefrancois’ flush and after the chips were counted down Gross was left with almost nothing.
Gross made a run at a comeback, tripling up and taking the blinds a couple of times before facing another all-in. Gross shoved from the button with K Q but ran into Roy’s A Q in the big blind. The A 6 6 was a big one for Roy, and the 2 made it official. The meaningless river was the K as Gross made his exit in third. Roy started his heads-up match with Lefrancois with a small lead but quickly extended it by taking a lot of the small pots.
Lefrancois rattled off seven straight pots to close the gap and actually overtake Roy for a brief moment, until the biggest pot of the tournament all but determined the winner. Lefrancois opened with a minraise to 1 million, Roy three-bet to 2.4 million and Lefrancois four-bet all-in. Roy called, and it was a coinflip for everything as Roy’s K Q took on Lefrancois’s 6 6. The K 7 7 flop put Roy solidly ahead and the Q left Lefrancois with just two outs. The river was the J and Lefrancois was left with just one big blind.
It went in on the next hand, as his 8 3 faced Roy’s K J with the board running out K J 4 Q 9 to bring the tournament to an end.
Here are the final table payouts for WPT Montreal:
- Jonathan Roy – $779,710
- Pascal Lefrancois – $470,920
- Jeff Gross – $317,450
- Gavin Smith – $211,745
- Sylvain Siebert – $146,360
- Peter Kaemmerlen – $113,155