Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Montreal Playground Poker Club trip report: just when I think I’ve seen it all, I realize that I haven’t seen anything

My wife and I took the kids up to Montreal, Canada for an extended weekend so that my wife could see her Canadian cousins. It had been a while since we’d been up there, so I took a few days off of work and we all drove the 10 hours from our house. It was nice; we got to see all of my wife’s family, and met the newest member of our family, a 3 month old baby boy. The weather was nice for the most part, so we were able to spend time outside, walking around and checking out Montreal’s sites. My kids have never experienced poutine, so we definitely had a serving to share. We broke up the trip on the trek home, making a stopover in New Jersey to visit my cousins. My cousin’s kids are close in age to my kids, so it was a welcomed relief from the all-too-long car ride.

To cut to the poker content, throughout the 15 years my wife and I have been married, I can’t recall a single time where I’ve been able to get away and check out the Montreal poker scene. For years, I knew about the Casino de Montréal, but I don’t think I’ve ever actually played poker there – I’ve read the games are bad, the poker room is tiny, and it’s generally expensive. However, I googled Montreal poker and found a place I’ve been reading about over the past few years, the Playground Poker Club. The poker club is a strictly poker room located on the Native American [Indian] Mohawk reservation. Saturday night, I was able to get away for a few hours and check it out. It happened to be around 25 minutes driving from the place we were staying.

My initial impression of the poker room was that it was imposingly big. 78 tables big. Seemingly just a warehouse of poker tables surrounded by TVs. Getting on a table was fairly easy; I needed to first get a Playground card to get on the waitlist. After doing that, I had a short 5 minute wait to get on a table. The place maybe had 30-40 tables running at 10:00 on a Saturday night. I went and got chips; using U.S. dollars, they changed my $200 into $256 CAD. The $1/2 tables were $200 max, so I pocketed my extra $56 and put the $200 on the table when I got called.

Some observations:
  •  The room is very strict and rule-oriented; non-players are not allowed to congregate around the table; they must stay behind the rail at all times.
  • Rake is 10% up to $8 + $1 for the bad beat drop!  Ouch.
  • You don’t have to post when entering the game though you can buy the button if you’d like.
  • The chairs and table are very comfortable.  They have 9 player tables, so there’s lots of room as well.
  • All food and drinks are free.  They have an extensive menu of food selections and it appears that they have a fully stocked bar.  The food looked very good; order as much as you’d like and your only cost is the tip for the server.
  • The food and drink service seemed very quick.  There’s seemingly always a server around.
  • The Montreal players seem to like to bet their draws.
  • The play was very poor.

A real quick inconsequential hand history relating to the title of the post:

I’m sitting for maybe an hour – there’s a lady across from me who I’ve pegged as absolutely atrocious. She’s hitting hands right & left; only bets when she has top pair or better (top pair - she’s never folding regardless the action). Anyway, I’ve seen her runner a boat, straight, two pair, etc. Usually, she has no idea that she has the winner, but somehow gets there. Anyway, I’m in the BB in seat 8; she’s in the 2 seat across from me as the second to act. As she’s lifting her cards, she accidentally flashes me the Deuce of diamonds, but also accidentally flips over the Ten of clubs for the entire table to see. She looks at the dealer and asks for a replacement card, but he relents; it’s her fault for flipping the Ten. The whole conversation is taking place in French; I don’t think she speaks any English. Therefore, I’m embellishing a little bit; she may have said to the dealer, “Beautiful weather in Montreal this weekend; what are you doing on Sunday?” while he replied, “Very fine weather – I’m planning a nice Easter brunch,” but what do I know? Body language -wise, it looked like she wanted a new card and was trying to blame the dealer for her folly. Anyway, despite showing the table 50% of her hand and me the other 50%, she decides to limp her powerhouse, throwing in the $2.

So, it’s not unexpected that she limped T2o (I've seen her play 93o to a raise; she's calling nearly every hand she sees), but I don’t get continuing to play your hand when you’ve played half of it face up! This is not a hand that should be too hard to fold! WTF? Have you ever seen that before?  Unfortunately, I looked down from the BB to see T3o, so I had her dominated, but we both totally missed the flop and one of the other 4 or 5 limps took it down :-(.


  1. Did the cards have French designations (R = King; D = Queen; V = Jack)? When I played in Montreal that really through me off.

    1. No; I remember that from when I played at Charlevoix Casino near Quebec City. The cards they used were standard A K Q J cards.

  2. PM:

    Do they call indigenous people "Native Americans" in Canada? I've heard that "First People" is the preferred phrase from our Northern neighbors. Did they have a "French Only" rule at the table?


    1. I really don't know whether they have an English or French only rule. I'd imagine it's either/or because the dealers were conversing both in English and French. I should have asked, but definitely both languages were accepted.

    2. We are all "Americans," - Canadians, Mexicans, Argentinians, etc. I think "Native American" is correct whether we're talking about the Mohawk tribe, the Incans, or any other indigenous people to the North or South American continents. I really don't know what the politically correct / preferred term for indigenous peoples are in Canada though :-(.

    3. Thanks, PM. It's an interesting thought. I do know some of our southern neighbors get frustrated with USA claiming the sole title to "American", so you're certainly right on that point. I've never lived in Canada, but have visited multiple times, so perhaps one of your Canadian readers might comment with more authority - just did a quick google and wikipedia says the most common terms in Canada are "Aboriginal Peoples", "First Nations" and, "First Peoples."

      Not greatly important to the story, but I thought it was interesting ;-)


    4. Fitting - although not a Native American Indian, but this whole conversation made me think of Apu getting his citizenship:

    5. To confirm, yes Native American is the preferred term. Indigenous works as well it's just not used as often. As long as you don't use the term "indian" which is looked down upon but all the ones you name where good :D

  3. Never seen that before. Any interesting spots? They say English only at the tables, was French official in this case?


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