When it comes to playing poker, there are a number of measures of success. Firstly, the obvious comes from winning tournaments and rising through the ranks of playing. Over the years, players have done this from both physical and online tournaments to gradually make a name for themselves with big wins. But, in this heavily connected world that thrives on cross-platform promotion and the power of the influencer, being sponsored by a poker company can also deem a player a great success – after all, a player wouldn’t be chosen unless they were at the top of their game. In Canada, poker players are thriving – so here are four who are tearing up the poker scene this year.

Mike Leah poses with his controversial WPT trophy. 

Source: @cardschat via Twitter

Mike Leah

Mike Leah kicked off 2018 with a roaring success when he was named the champion at the WPT (World Poker Tournament) Fallsview Poker Classic. Leah was already a strong name on the poker circuit. He had already won a tournament during the same series three times in the past four years with several side events totalling hundreds of dollars. Controversy shrouded the tournament win though, as Leah had tweeted beforehand the statistics of his Fallsview history and pondered why he wasn’t on the nominated list for the best players. During the tournament, Leah went into it with a bigger stack and cemented his advantage fairly early on. Fellow Canadian poker player Ryan Yu was storming ahead, taking the lead 72 hands in, and eliminating much of his competition. But, following an unscheduled break – which players use to discuss possible deals – Yu raise-folded and Leah swept to victory. The deal ended up being fairly lucrative for both parties – with each taking money, but with Leah claiming the first place title and trophy. Many poker fans were abashed that this had unfolded but, while controversial, it is a playable part of the game. Leah’s next move is to win the WSOP (World Series of Poker) Player of the Year, another huge accolade in the Canadian native’s impressive poker run.

Daniel Negreanu with his other passion, hockey. 

Source: @russohockey via Twitter

Daniel Negreanu

Poker in 2018 has also been favourable to Canadian poker star Daniel Negreanu. He is fresh from his 3rd place, $264,000 victory at the US Poker Open Main Event. Though not snatching the top spot, Negreanu can fall back on the fact that he already has six WSOP bracelets and two WPT championship titles. Plus, in 2014, he was named the best poker player of the decade by the independent officiating body GPI (Global Poker Index). Negreanu boasts a book on poker strategy, Power Hold’Em Strategy, focusing on Texas Hold’Em, and a video game – Stacked with Daniel Negreanu – in which he shares his wisdom as such a prolific player. That’s not to mention the countless articles he has written for poker aficionado style magazines, and even the celebrity tuition he has given to Tobey Maguire and Shannon Elizabeth (herself now a major name on the poker scene). But why wasn’t Negreanu successful in taking first place? He even bet $50,000 on the fact that he would be named the winner. He managed to best the others for the first seven games of the eight-game tournament but was himself defeated at the Main Event. While the second runner-up placing may not have been the victory Negreanu wanted, given his prolific career and his strong poker skills, he is bound to hit back with some big wins. After all, you don’t become PETA’s poker spokesperson and land a cameo in X-Men Origins: Wolverine if you’re just a small-time poker star. Negreanu has already succeeded in creating a strong personal brand, imperative for business success. The 3rd place victory still accrued a tremendous amount of money and will no doubt have fired Negreanu up to come storming out of the gate to win the next one.

TonkaaaaP in his new role as 888Poker ambassador. 

Source: @superpoker via Twitter

Parker TonkaaaaP Talbot

Parker Talbot, or TonkaaaaP to his friends, is another name to watch out for as far Canadian poker players go – and 2018 looks set to be his year in the sun. Unlike the physical poker playing of Negreanu, TonkaaaaP has made a name for himself in a different way – through Twitch live streaming of his poker games. As a result of his success playing, and the potential he has for the future, TonkaaaP has been snapped up as one of 888poker’s ambassadors. The role will involve playing on the site five days a week and live streaming his games to provide not only a spectacle in poker playing but also to share tips and his skills with those interested. TonkaaaaP will also attend 888Poker live events and join David Tuchman in the commentator booth to share his wisdom. TonkaaaaP plays in the average buy-in games, which, unlike some of the bigger buy-ins, is more like what players at home will be opting for, and provides more of a realistic look at what playing poker might be. He remains fiercely proud of his illustrious poker career so far, with no one moment being the crowning glory, and instead citing his entire time as a poker pro as the highlight. TonkaaaaP is excited to add commentator to his roster, something which he has been doing informally on his streaming channel for years. He claims that his in-your-face banter matches with that of commentator David Tuchman and we already know that he is a pro on camera when talking about his love of poker. 2018 looks very promising for TonkaaaaP, who shows that there are many avenues to get to where you want to be in life and that harnessing the growing technology can be just as fruitful as traditional means.     

Sam Greenwood’s showcasing his poker face. 

Source: @pokerstarsblog via Twitter

Sam Greenwood

Sam Greenwood is another Canadian who looks set to have a shining poker career ahead of him. Greenwood kicked off 2018 with a win on the Aussie Millions ANTON Jewellery Challenge, gaining $50,000. The tournament lasted less than six hours, and Greenwood stormed to victory with a heads-up deal with runner-up Jan Schwippert. The game was fast and decisive – after a few hands of feeling each other out, the players – only four of them – began three-betting and four-betting to knock one another out. The game showcased the skills needed to be a poker player, in dealing with aggressive competitors and making fast decisions under intense pressure. If nothing else, Greenwood cemented himself as one such player and will have the rest of the poker community regarding him with wariness for the future of his tournaments. To be seen as a formidable player is as satisfying for a poker star as earning millions in Texas Hold ‘Em or accruing a huge following. By mid-March 2018, Greenwood already had seven big money tournaments under his belt, and the momentum will likely continue to rise with each victory.   

Canada produces some pretty stellar poker players, who are set to reach even brighter futures in 2018. Whether aiming for titles, trophies, and jackpots to advance their ranking on the GPI – or utilising other means to get their name out there as a Texas Hold’Em or Omaha Hi-Lo star. The futures for all four Canadian players highlighted here will likely be ones to follow and should TonkaaaaP, Greenwood, and Leah follow the business mindset of Daniel Negreanu – with books, articles, and appearances across the board – they will likely succeed in the poker business long after they have turned over their final cards.


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