As another year comes to an end, CanadaPoker is counting down the top five Canadian poker moments of 2016. The nation’s poker players have made a mark in the world over the past 12 months. From Vegas, to the Caribbean, and right back here on home soil, Canada’s poker community has a lot to be proud of as the book on 2016 closes.
#5: Troy Quenneville Dominates Punta Cana
Less than two days after Troy Quenneville finished runner-up to Niall Farrell in the World Poker Tour (WPT) Caribbean Main Event, the Windsor, Ontario native capped off an amazing run in the Dominican Republic with a win in the 2016 partypoker Million for USD $400,000.
At a final table that included fellow Canadians Erik Cajelais and Ari Engel, along with pros David Yan and Martin Kozlov, Quenneville entered as the chip leader and ran over his competition. Quenneville eliminated all but two of his opponent’s before getting heads up with Cajelais.
What makes Quenneville’s achievement even more spectacular is his run in the WPT Caribbean two days earlier. Quenneville sat among the leaders for most of the event, leading after Day 2 and coming into the final day second in chips. Ultimately Quenneville fell short of a WPT title. The Scottish poker pro, Farrell, had built a big lead by the time heads-up play was reached and Quenneville was out-chipped by a 5-1 margin. Quenneville was awarded USD $220,000.
Astonishingly enough, prior to Quenneville’s Punta Cana vacation, his live-recorded tournament earnings was just USD $559. He now sits at over USD $620,000.
#4: David Ormsby Reclaims WPT Fallsview Title
The first stop for the World Poker Tour (WPT) in Canada during 2016 landed them in Niagara Falls, Ontario for the Fallsview Poker Classic. Having lost the title in 2015 to American, Anthony Zinno, the pressure was on the Canadian players to reclaim the title.
There were some up for the task though as the final table featured an all-Canadian lineup consisting of Thomas Archer, Soren Turkewitsch, Mike Bui, Derek Verrian, Robert Forbes, and the eventual champion David Ormsby.
Ormsby scored a top prize of CAD $383,407 bringing his total live-recorded tournament earnings to USD $417,816. During an interview after the win, Ormsby stated that he had been playing for about five years and could normally be found grinding 10/20 or 20/40 at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.
Unfortunately, Canada was unable to claim the following two WPT stops in Canada. Americans Seth Davies and Mike Sexton, yes, that Mike Sexton, stole both events held at Playground Poker Club in the spring and the fall. Defeating Canadians heads-up in each as well.
#3: Kristen Bicknell Wins WSOP Gold
It was a rather disappointing year for Canadians at the 2016 World Series of Poker (WSOP) in Las Vegas. The American dollar was up, Canadian attendance was down, and two-thirds of the way through, we had yet to find gold. Enter Kristen Bicknell.
Bicknell already had a shiny gold bracelet courtesy of a win in the 2013 Ladies No-Limit Hold’em Championship. At this year’s WSOP, she fixed her sights on Event #46: $1,500 BOUNTY No-Limit Hold’em, and etched her name in the history books.
Hailing from Nepean, Ontario, Bicknell had $219,564 career live-recorded earnings entering the event. After navigating a field of 2,158, she would add another $290,768, capturing her second bracelet, and Canada’s only of the series.
Bicknell also became the first Canadian female to win an open event and joins the likes of Loni Harwood, Susie Isaacs, Starla Brodie, and Jen Harman as the only females to ever win two bracelets. Only three ladies have ever won three bracelets; Barbara Enright, Vanessa Selbst, and Nani Dollison.
Since then, Bicknell has picked up eight cashes around the world including a third place finish at the DeepStacks Poker Tour Championship held at the Grey Eagle Resort & Casino in Calgary, picking up CAD $128,425.
#2: SirWatts Wins PCA Main Event
In 2006, Waterloo, Ontario’s Steve Paul-Ambrose took down the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA) Main Event for USD $1,388,600. Mike “SirWatts” Watson was attending the University of Waterloo at the time and began to study and play the game with Paul-Ambrose. Fast forward 10 years and it was Watson’s turn to feel the rush of taming one of the most prestigious events in poker.
Watson not only weaved his stack through a star-studded field of 926 of the best poker players in the world but also closed out one of the toughest final tables ever assembled in the PCA.
In the end, it came down to a battle between Watson, Vladimir Troyanovskiy, Randy Kritzer, Phillip McAllister, Toby Lewis, and three-time PCA final tablist Tony Gregg. Fittingly so, Watson and Gregg watched the others fall until it was just them, a pile of money, a trophy, and all the glory.
As soon as heads-up play was set, Watson and Gregg quickly agreed to a chop. Watson had a significant chip lead at the time but both players had respect for each other’s game and a deal was made. Watson locked up $695,325 and Gregg $612,175. Leaving $33,000 to play for.
The two delivered a great battle over the next couple of hours but eventually Watson was able to finally slay the ‘End Boss’.
#1: Griffin Benger Makes the November Nine
There is no doubt that the WSOP Main Event is the most prestigious tournament in the poker world. Even making the final table pays out more than winning almost any other major event throughout the year. Jonathan Duhamel gave Canadians a taste of what it takes to rule the poker world in 2010, six years later Griffin Benger was poised to put Canada back on the map.
Benger was no stranger to the world championship level, as the former professional gamer is a Counter-Strike world champion under the screen name ‘shaguar’ and a former number-one ranked online poker player. This was Benger’s second time going deep in the WSOP Main Event. His best finish coming in 2014 where he finished 90th.
With $1,000,000 already locked up and paid out in July when the final table of nine was set, Benger and his tablemates met again at the end of October under the bright lights of the Penn & Teller Theatre in the Rio to decide their fate.
Unfortunately, Benger never really had a chance to do any damage around the table. Hand after hand, Benger was forced to fold looking down at garbage holdings and bad positions for the better part of three hours.
Benger was able to climb a couple rungs on the ladder though as two of his opponents were dismissed before he fell in seventh place. Benger received an additional $250,190 for his efforts, making it the biggest cash of his career.