Canada Poker

History of Poker in Canada

As the United States’ neighbor to the north, Canada has always had a thriving poker population, but up until recently the poker games were mostly limited to illegal card clubs and the backrooms of bars and restaurants. While there are numerous casinos across the vast Canadian tundra, the different provincial governments legislate and regulate these businesses differently from locale to locale, so the amount or accessibility to poker games can vary depending on where you are in Canada.

The main hotbeds of poker in Canada continues to be in Vancouver and Toronto, but even Prince Edward Island can now lay claim to a casino with a poker room thanks to the increased interest in the game after the 2003 poker boom.

Poker has been known to Canadians almost as long as it has been to Americans, having first arrived in Canada at about the same time it was travelling up the Mississippi River in the United States, and with a healthy French population poker in Canada may have even started to develop on its own from the French game of Poque, independent of the game that was being developed in the French district of Louisiana.

Famous Canadian Poker Players

Just like Hollywood and the music industry, when it comes to poker players hailing from Canada they are often confused with, or lumped in with, US players. Poker enthusiasts may be shocked to learn that some of the biggest names in the game come from Canada: Daniel Negreanu, 2010 WSOP Champion Jonathan Duhamel, Sorel Mizzi, Isabelle Mercier, Mike McDonald, Evelyn Ng, Kara Scott, Gavin Smith, and Nenad Medic, as well as a slew of recent WSOP Main Event final table members Scott Montgomery, Matt Jarvis, and Darus Suharto.

Here is a look at some of the most well known poker players from Canada and their career accomplishments:

negreanu poker Daniel Negreanu

  • $14.6 million in career tournament earnings
  • 2-time WPT Champion
  • 4 WSOP bracelets
  • Former WSOP Player of the Year
  • Frontman for Team PokerStars Pro


mizzi sorel Sorel Mizzi

  • $3.7 million  in career tournament earnings
  • 2010 BLUFF Magazine POY
  • Online poker legend
  • 17 cashes of the 45 events at the FTOPS XX
  • 2 FTOPS titles


timex mcdonaldMike “Timex” McDonald

  • $2.8 million in career tournament earnings
  • Only 22 years-old!
  • EPT German Open winner
  • 2nd place at 2008 Aussie Millions
  • Three EPT Final Tables and one WPT Final Table


Jon DuhamelJonathan Duhamel

  • 2010 World Series of Poker Main Event Champion
  • Team PokerStars Pro
  • First Canadian to win WSOP main event bracelet
  • Ove $9.5 million in live winnings


Gavin Smith bioGavin Smith

  • Has finished 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th in WPT events
  • Won WSOP bracelet in 2011
  • WPT Player of the Year for season 4
  • $5.6 million in career tournament earnings


Online Poker in Canada

Online poker in Canada has followed a similar path to that of the United States, with online poker in Canada not expressly forbidden, but unlike the situation in the US the Canadian government has passed legislation to open the door to legalization; instead of shutting it as the US has done.

Currently there are several Canadian provinces that have legalized online poker, and even attempted to setup their own online poker sites through their provincial lottery commissions. While the state-run online poker rooms have failed to gain any traction, offshore operators have continued to thrive.

Here is a look at the Top 3 online poker sites in Canada:

pokerstars site PokerStars

  • Over 50,000 players online at any given time
  • Team PokerStars Canada: Daniel Negreanu, Jonathan Duhamel, Pat Pezzin, and Greg Debora
  • Fast payouts

titan poker site Titan Poker

  • 10,000 players online at any given time
  • Sam Trickett and Marvin Reitenmaier recently replaced Canadian Sorel Mizzi on Team Titan
  • Part of the iPoker Network
  • Massive 200% up to $2,000 deposit bonus available


Where to play poker in Canada

Each Canadian province has their own laws governing live poker and cardrooms, but you will find live poker games in virtually every province in Canada, and with a total of 42 casinos offering poker tables throughout Canada you’re likely to find a cardroom near every major city, including Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Nova Scotia, and Vancouver.

Canada also has a rich tradition for underground card-rooms –similar to the poker scene in New York City—with Toronto being the hub for these underground, quasi-legal, games.

Poker laws in Canada

All card-rooms in Canada must be licensed and regulated by the local gaming authority, and as mentioned above offshore online poker sites operate in a gray area throughout Canada.

As far as hosting home poker games in Canada; as long as the host does not take a cut of the money the games are perfectly legal. Games hosted by bars and clubs are in a very gray area, and while the Canadian authorities do not place a high priority on “busting” poker leagues run from the backrooms of bars and restaurants, you should understand there is an inherent risk involved in participating in these games.

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