Canada may be the second largest country in the world but with just 38 million people it languishes in 37th in terms of population.
To put that into perspective, there are more people living in Iraq than in Canada and there are almost nine times more people living in America than in its neighbour.
Consequently, there is also a lot less poker played in Canada. The World Series of Poker is staged in Nevada, USA, and the largest number of World Poker Tour events – which produce million-dollar winners throughout the calendar year – are played in the United States, not Canada.
Put simply, Canadians have had to take to the road to cut their teeth in the poker world. But gritty determination has seen Canada produce some of the best poker players that we have today.
To recognise this, let’s acquaint ourselves with some of the most talented and memorable poker players that Canada has given us over the years.
Firstly, no discussion of Canadian poker players could take place without first mentioning Daniel Negreanu who has had a simply outstanding career on the felt.
Arguably the most famous poker player of all time, Negreanu has earned over $42,000,000 in live poker earnings as well as his place in the poker hall of fame which he was inducted into in 2014.
The star of his own Netflix documentary, Negreanu’s chirpy character has always made for great television, and he has become a fan-favourite over the years thanks to an outgoing personality at the poker table.
With six World Series of Poker bracelets and two World Poker Tour championship titles to his name, he is comfortably the most successful poker player Canada has ever produced. In July 2021 he even won the inaugural PokerGo Cup, showing that three decades into his career, his poker game is still as good as ever.
Of course, 2010 World Series of Poker champion Jonathan Duhamel must also be listed as one of Canada’s best poker players.
The first ever Canadian winner of the Main Event, his near $9 million score catapulted him into the homes of poker fans across the world as the Canadian captured the most coveted prize in poker.
His contribution of $100,000 following his win to the Montreal Canadians Children’s foundation was a really nice touch and stands as the single largest donation ever received by the charity which helps underprivileged youths in the city.
Since then, Duhamel has travelled the world on the back of his Main Event success, promoting the game wherever he goes with both style and class. He has also gone on to win two more bracelets as well as a European Poker Tour high roller event proving his 2010 success was no fluke.
Another recognisable Canadian poker face is that of TV personality, journalist and former Irish Open runner-up Kara Scott.
Born in northern Alberta, Scott has been a regular reporter from some of poker’s biggest stages such as ESPN’s coverage of the World Series of Poker main event. She has also fronted the hugely popular television show High Stakes Poker.
Scott is a formidable player herself having participated as a player in many other popular poker TV shows such as The Shark Cage, NBC heads-up and Poker After Dark.
Her stand-out performance came when she almost won the Irish Open in 2009 only to fall at the last hurdle and come second. A glowing personality on and off the felt, it’s no surprise 888 has chosen to sponsor her. With infectious enthusiasm for poker, her place as one of Canada’s best ambassadors for the game is unquestionable.
One of three professional poker playing brothers, former stock trader Sam Greenwood has quietly become one of the most successful poker players Canada has ever produced.
With over $22,000,000 in live earnings, Greenwood has had a remarkable career on the felt. Having started out online he is now a force to be reckoned with both live and in online poker. Greenwood can always be found at most of the world’s most prestigious poker festivals.
But, despite having competed strongly in some of the most expensive poker tournaments there are, it’s refreshing to see him give something back to the grassroots of the game. Greenwood regularly coaches aspiring poker players and offers them advice on the training site Run it Once. His pursuits don’t end with poker either – this Toronto native also runs a popular blog producing movie reviews!
Sadly, in 2019, we lost one of the most successful Canadian poker players of all time, Gavin Smith.
One of the most popular players on tour, Smith burst on to the poker scene by winning the 2005 Mirage Poker Showdown and over $1,000,000 in prize money as well as a much sought-after World Poker Tour title.
He also went on to win a World Series of Poker bracelet in 2010 in a mixed hold’em event. Who would have thought that less than ten years later the opening event of the World Series of Poker would be getting named in his honour as a tribute to his life, the Gavin Smith Memorial Tournament.
Smith will be fondly remembered not just by his peers but anyone who ever met him thanks to his larger-than-life charisma. He was one of the best poker personalities Canada has ever given us and is sorely missed.
First published on: Gambling.com