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Hitting the High-Impact Jackpot

The growing popularity and acceptance of soccer in Montreal can also be seen in the city’s thriving poker scene.

Jeff Bottari

The prominence of poker and soccer in Montreal



Back in the pioneering days of the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, poker was once a U.S.-centric card game dominated by crafty rounders – sly and cunning men who traveled to different towns and cities looking to play high-stakes games with fellow professionals. Nowadays, poker is widely regarded as a legitimate spectator sport enjoyed by millions of people from all over the world, including Canada and most countries in Europe and Asia. The pinnacle of the sport is a glitzy and glamorous affair set in the casino wonderland of Las Vegas, where the World Series of Poker (WSOP) is held every year to hundreds of audience members and thousands more from extensive television broadcasts. By the same token, Major League Soccer (MLS) has grown as a veritable force to be reckoned with in the realm of North American soccer; the league now has national television contracts, including those with NBC Sports Group, ESPN, and the TSN family of networks. Currently boasting 19 teams – 16 in the U.S. and three in Canada – the MLS plans to expand to 24 teams in 2020. Additionally, MLS club owners have built soccer-specific stadiums, which in turn boast of an average attendance exceeding those of the NBA and NHL.

In the case of the Montreal Impact, their home games are usually held at the Saputo Stadium, a 20,341-seat venue located in the Olympic Park which is a stone’s throw (or a goal kick) away from the Olympic Stadium. While the Saputo Stadium currently rivals the Montreal Canadiens’ Bell Centre in terms of viewer capacity, the neighboring Olympic Stadium will still be used for special events that deserve a larger audience. The growing popularity and acceptance of soccer in Montreal can also be seen in the city’s thriving poker scene.

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via upload.wikimedia.org

Indeed, Montreal is a highly regarded destination for the prestigious World Poker Tour (WPT) circuit. The Playground Poker Club is a state-of-the-art Montreal card room that has hosted the 2012 and 2013 partypoker WPT Montreal events, in addition to hosting the upcoming WPT National Canadian Spring Championships. As a matter of fact, the 2012 event not only marked the first time Montreal hosted a WPT, it was also significant for accommodating the third-highest amount of players in WPT history – 1,173 people, to be exact. Canadian poker standouts Jonathan Roy, Tim Silman, Eric Lussier, Serge Cantin, Sylvain Siebert, Pascal Lefrancois, and Alexandre Lavigne are just some of the players who have won tournaments and/or finished on the money at both iterations of WPT Montreal.

The question is : which Impact player is the greatest poker player ? Maybe Marco Di Vaio who has been featured as the "Poker Face" by Impact Media a while ago (source : Marco Di Vaio : Un buteur né / Goalscoring machine)