A couple of recognizable faces in the Canadian poker world in Scott Montgomery and Gavin Smith finally got a bracelet in 2010 and they were able to continue quite the successful year for Canadians at the WSOP.
Ottawa’s Scott Montgomery, who first made a name for himself by finishing 5th in the 2008 WSOP main event, claimed his first bracelet in Event # 36, a $1,000 No-Limit Hold’em event. While that huge cash for over 3 million in 2008 allowed Montgomery to travel and play poker full time in bigger games, he was still hungry for a WSOP victory. “I was pretty nervous going into that final table (in 2008). It was pretty intense” Montgomery said, and with a couple of deep runs in 2010 events, he was glad to finally get over the hump. All that changed with this event as Montgomery was able to conquer the field of 3,102 other poker players to collect his 1st place prize of $481,760. After eight previous cashes in WSOP events it was great to see Montgomery get over the hump and claim a victory, and all his cashes put his official WSOP career earnings at $3,670,228, good enough for 25th all-time on the earnings list.
Montgomery was not the only Canadian at the final table in this event as Sebastien Roy from Cap Rouge, Quebec finished 5th in this event for $111,783, so the Maple Leaf was well represented at this event; proof positive that the level of skill in Canada’s poker scene is increasing dramatically.
Montgomery was lucky to even reach the final table in this event because with 10 players left, he stood in 10th place and pushed all-in on four separate occasions but was never called. He took down those pots and kept his momentum growing at the final table. After, experiencing a scare with K-Q vs. A-K all-in pre-flop, Montgomery was able to hit four suited cards on the board in order to make a flush and take a massive chip lead. He would never relinquish that lead, and a final hand of Ad 7h held up against Ks 2s to win with ace-high. The bracelet was Montgomery’s and he has now solidified his standing in the poker world and proved that his run in 2008 was no fluke. With nine cashes in the WSOP, Montgomery is a Canadian poker star here to stay, and we should expect more great things from him in the future.
Montgomery wasn’t the only recognizable Canadian poker pro to finally get over the hump and obtain a WSOP bracelet. Gavin Smith, widely regarded as one of the best poker players in the world without a WSOP bracelet shed that title and was more than elated to get rid of it. “What this (victory) mean(s) is that I’m part of that club that I always wanted to be a part of,” Smith says, “I’ve been in this game a long, long, long, long time.”
Gavin took down Event # 44, the $2,500 Mixed Hold’em event (Limit Hold’em and No Limit Hold’em) and discovered that the key to his success in this event was how he approached the Limit Hold’em aspect of it. As he commented during a post-tournament interview, Smith says “Where you could really pick up a lot of chips was in the Limit Hold’em rounds by playing aggressively and not spewing pots by just trying to win every hand, everyone was splashing around too much.”
Smith held the chip lead once play was down to four-handed and was never caught. His final hand of Ah Qh made two pair, aces and jacks on a board of Ad Kh 2c Jd Js, and the snake-bit Smith finally had gotten his WSOP victory. He was notably emotional after the tournament and needed to take a few moments before addressing the adoring crowd with his post-game comments.
Like the event Montgomery won, Smith also had a fellow Canadian at the final table in Dan Idema from Vancouver. Idema finished in 7th place for $35,601 and was there to support Gavin after his tournament had finished. Furthermore, this is the second straight year that a Canadian poker player has won this Mixed Hold’em event as Bahador Ahmadi, also from Vancouver was the defending champion, but chose not to enter this year’s event.
Gavin Smith’s win was probably the most satisfying for the crowd at this year’s WSOP as Gavin’s good guy personality is well respected in the professional poker world. It is great for Canadian poker to see one of its most recognizable players finally able to be recognized as a WSOP champion, and we can only hope that this only breeds more success for Smith and other Canadians in poker.
With two more bracelets (putting the total for Canada at 5 in the 2010 WSOP), it seems that all is healthy and well in the Canadian poker scene.