The Playground Poker Club put themselves in the conversation for best tournament venue in Canada over the last couple of years. They partnered with the World Poker Tour in 2012 and in nine branded, main events they generated 6,713 entrants for $16.9 million in prize pools. The hotspot has been kind to Canadian players but Americans have won the event four years in a row.
The poker room attracts American players in droves. According to Tony Dunst, “Playground does everything right for a poker room.”
Mike Sexton echoed Dunst’s opinion, “They do poker right,” he said. “It’s strictly a poker casino and they get it. They have specialized areas for tournaments, cash games and high stakes games.”
“They have really good food and the cleanest bathrooms on tour,” Sexton added. “It’s professional and first class all the way – and the championship belt is the coolest trophy on tour.”
Pascal Lefrancois benefitted the most out of the WPT partnership with $892,769 won in cashes at Playground. Rounding out the top five winners from Playground are Jonathan Roy, Jeff Gross, Amir Babakhani and Mukul Pahuja.
The first WPT Main Event in 2012 was the largest with a $3.4 million prize pool and 1,173 entries. Roy, Lefrancois and Gross finished first through third, Gavin Smith finished in fourth and would be the last time Canadian won the title.
Local Canadian pro Harley Stoffmaker said, “Since they’ve opened they’ve gotten bigger and better. They have pretty solid customer service and always listen to players and willing to make changes based on what they hear.”
Derrick Rosenbarger won the title in 2013 after he defeated fellow American Mukul Pahuja heads-up. Jonathan Jaffe made it back-to-back wins for American players in 2014 at final table featuring Pahuja (again), Kevin MacPhee, Samuel Chartier and Phillip Hui.
Jared Mahoney won the 2015 title and the field dipped below 700 entrants for the first time. 2016 Super High Roller Bowl Champion Ranier Kempe finished in third place as multiple Americans final tabled with Darryll Fish, Brian Altman Alexander Gambino and Mike Dentale.
Benny Chan came close to keeping the title in Canada but Mike Sexton broke through and won his first WPT title in 2016.