The PartyPoker World Poker Tour Montreal — the first Main Event in Canada since 2008 — recently concluded at the Playground Poker Club after Quebec’s Jonathan Roy conquered a 1,173-player field to win $755,601, a seat in the $25,000 WPT World Championship and a shiny WPT championship belt.
The event proved an overwhelming success, shattering expectations and drawing players from around the world. The final table — which included Peter Kaemmerlen, Sylvain Siebert, Gavin Smith, Jeff Gross and Pascal Lefrancois — was not only stacked, it made headlines for attracting the most decorated Olympian in history, Michael Phelps, who made a last-minute appearance to support Gross, his best friend .
The two Québécois at the final table, Lefrancois and Roy, eventually made it to heads-up play with the former holding a slight chip lead. Lefrancois managed to take over the lead in a back-and-forth affair, but then Roy won a massive, 34-million-chip race. It happened with the blinds at 250,000/500,000/50,000 when Lefrancois opened to 1 million on the button. Roy three-bet to 2.4 million, Lefrancois moved all in, and Roy called.
The board ran out , and Lefrancois was left with less than a big blind. Lefrancois was eliminated the next hand and left with a $473,572 consolation prize.
PokerNews spoke to the 25-year-old Roy the day after his win to talk about his big win, poker in Canada, and his plans for the score.
First, what was it like winning one of the WPT’s largest tournament and the first Main Event in Canada since 2008, on your home turf?
It was pretty great. All my friends were there, so it was a lot of fun. To win it in Montreal, and I knew it was a big event, poker is just arriving in Montreal, so it was great.
How did you come to play the WPT Montreal? Did you satellite in? Buy-in?
I just bought in.
Did you re-enter?
No, I did not. I wasn’t planning on reentering neither. I had friends at my house all weekend long, so I wasn’t going to reenter. I was short on Day 1, but I doubled up at the end of play.
Toward the end of the tournament the stacks became fairly shallow. Did you feel you had a good chance of making it to the final table on the second-to-last day?
On Day 3 I had a good stack so I took advantage of it, but when they redrew to two tables, one was way tougher than the other one, so my table was the really tough one. There were so many good players on it, so it was pretty hard. The stacks were a bit shallow, but I really liked it.
Speaking of the final table, you had some stiff competition. Can tell us your impressions heading into the final table?
I entered the final table third in chips, and I think I had the worst seat. I had Pascal Lefrancois on my left and Jeff Gross to his left, too, so both of them are pretty good. I didn’t like the fact that they were both on my left, so I had to wait until three-handed play before I started opening more. With the ICM and stuff I thought it was the better way to do it, so three-handed I started to open up my game a little more and it went really well.
You squared off with Pascal Lefrancois, who also hails from Quebec, in heads-up play? Were you two friends? What was it like doing battle with Pascal?
I’ve known him for four years now. It was fun playing against him, actually. Being heads-up with another Quebecer, all the rail was going nuts; however, playing against Pascal heads-up was not my first choice, obviously, because I think he was the best player at the final table. But I think in the heads-up game I knew what he thought of my game, so I changed a little bit and I think I played really well.
Everyone heard about Michael Phelps coming to rail Jeff Gross, but who did you have on hand supporting you?
A bunch of friends, poker friends and nonpoker-related friends too. My parents couldn’t be there, but all my friends were there, so it was good.
You hail from Quebec, which boasts some pretty good players like Marc-Andre Ladouceur, Jonathan Duhamel, and Sam Chartier, just to name a few. Are you friends with these players?
Yeah, actually we just went to Europe a month and a half ago. I was with them in Cannes. I traveled for a month with Jonathan Duhamel because we were actually living like 30 seconds away from each other and we went to the same high school. So, yeah, I know them a lot.
You have results from across the world including in Malta, Monte Carlo, London, and Prague. You must have done a lost of traveling over the last year?
This was my first year trying to play a little bit more live. In the past I didn’t play live at all pretty much, so this year I tried it and I liked it a lot. It gave me the opportunity to travel, and it was a lot of fun. I won a Turbo in Monaco, so that gave me a boost.
You won €58,000 for winning the €2,000 NLHE 8-Max Turbo Bounty tournament at the European Poker Tour Grand Final back in April. Aside from the money, how did the latest win compare to that one?
Obviously the win in Montreal is huge for me right now. I’m not sure I realize it enough right now, but the win in Monaco was really great. I’m not a tournament player like most of my friends — I rarely play tournaments online — so I only play a couple of tournaments a year. So I was pretty happy about Monaco because it was just great to win something live, but I’ve started to play a lot more tournaments now because I think it’s fun. Winning Montreal was just awesome.
You actually have decent results in WPT Main Events, finishing 46th in the 2011 LAPC, 48th in the 2011 WPT Prague, and ninth in the WPT Malta back in September. Do you feel you do better on WPTs than in other events?
I don’t know. I just feel really comfortable in WPTs. My first cash ever was at the LAPC, and the structure there was amazing. I feel really good playing WPTs. I’ve played the EPT and WSOP, but I don’t have too great of results, but I always seem to do good on the WPT.
What can you tell us about your online career?
I don’t play a lot online anymore since Black Friday. I didn’t play at all this year. I had a bunch of money on Full Tilt Poker, and when Black Friday happened I just got scared about online poker. I got unmotivated to play, so after that I started to travel a lot. When I got back, I just didn’t feel like playing online. Since March I haven’t played at all online.
I really happy PokerStars took over Full Tilt because like I said I had some money on Full Tilt. I think it’s just good for the poker community too that PokerStars took that over. It was pretty bad before that. I had money on UB too, which I think is lost.
Do you have any plans for the $755,601?
I’m not sure yet. I haven’t thought about it yet. I have no clue, really.
What are your thoughts on the WPT belt and did you get to keep it?
The Playground Poker Club made belts for a poker series this summer, one for the Main Event winner and one for the High Roller, which were won by the same guy. They decided to give another one for the WPT Main Event, so yeah, I can keep it and have it at home right now.
What’s next for you as far as poker is concerned?
I don’t have any plans yet for 2013, but I’m actually going to Prague next week for the EPT. When the tournament started, I had two friends going to Prague, and I said only if I win will I go with you guys. I won, so I have to go.
*Lead picture courtesy of the WPT Blog.