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MILLIONS North America Returns to Playground in May

Popular Montreal, Canada Poker Club Will Feature 11 Tournaments With $8 Million In Guarantees

by Card Player News Team |  Published: Apr 24, 2019

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For the third year running, partypoker LIVE and Playground are teaming up to present MILLIONS North America, the second event in the 2019 MILLIONS Tour. This year’s series will be held from May 13 – 26 at Playground, which is located in Kahnawake, just outside of Montreal, Canada.

This edition of MILLIONS North America features 11 tournaments with a more than $8 million in total guaranteed prize pools. The main event — a tournament that has become a key date on the global poker calendar following the success of the first two editions in 2017 and 2018 — has a $5 million guarantee.

There are two other events on the schedule with million dollar guarantees: the Montreal Open ($1,100 buy-in) and the High Roller ($10,300 buy-in). In addition, a Super High Roller tournament has been added to the schedule with a $25,300 buy-in. These marquee tourneys are complemented by seven other side events and a comprehensive satellite schedule designed to get as many players as possible around the tables no matter what bankroll they bring to the tables.

The Event: MILLIONS North America

The MILLIONS North America itself is a $10,000 + $300 no-limit hold’em tournament featuring a huge $5 million guarantee and, by popular request, a player-friendly new format. The new format has raised eyebrows throughout the poker world as it represents a major change in the MILLIONS Tour.  John Duthie, president of partypoker LIVE, explains:

“Our MILLIONS Season 2 tour [was] very successful, however we pride ourselves on listening to player feedback and continually improving our offering to ensure we provide the best live tour in the world.”

Poker players — pros and recreational players alike — have long been concerned with “re-entry creep” — the tendency of events to allow more and more entries in order to hit seemingly impossible guarantees. “Listening to player feedback” in the case of the MILLIONS tour meant moving in the opposite direction. MILLIONS North America and other MILLIONS Main Events around the world now feature a $10,000 buy-in (in local currency) and just two Day 1s, with a single entry permitted per flight.

Duthie continued, “We want the MILLIONS brand to be synonymous with being one of the most prestigious live competitions in the world. We hope these changes will allow us to improve and build our MILLIONS tour to make it the best LIVE experience for our players.”

The More Qualifiers the Better

Along with limiting the number of entries and increasing the buy-in has come a renewed commitment to ensuring that as wide a range of players as possible are able to play in the event. Between Live and Online satellites, by the time the MILLIONS North America rolls around there will be at least 200 qualifiers in the field. Players of all backgrounds — and bankrolls — will hit the felts and join the action this year.

One route players have been taking to qualify for MILLIONS — starting at just $90 — is via the three-tiered STEPS Satellites that have been running since December. Players start with a $90 STEP 1 satellite, which awards seats in a $440 STEP 2 Satellite — which in turn awards seats in a $1,650 STEP 3 Satellite. Almost half of the live qualifiers so far have won their seat for MILLIONS North America by using only that initial $90 buy-in!

Players can also jump in directly to STEP 2 or 3 — one of the best elements of STEPS is its flexibility for people with any level of experience or size of bankroll. As MILLIONS draws nearer, there will also be a series of more traditional direct satellites as well — there are 70 seats guaranteed via the Direct route!

There are also Online Satellites on partypoker culminating with a weekly MILLIONS North America Final Phase that guarantees at least 5 seats into the event, every Sunday. The catch? Players must play their way into this Final Phase via one of the 20 Phase 1 tournaments held every day of the week. If the $200 + $15 buy-in is beyond a player’s budget, he or she can qualify for Phase 1s via $11, $22, or $44 satellites instead — there’s literally a way into the MILLIONS for players with any size of bankroll.

Looking Back

The North American event in the MILLIONS Tour — now in Year 3 — has already established a storied history. The two events have paid out a total of $15,409,750 — a remarkable figure for just 2 individual tournaments — and prize money like that attracts players like nothing else can.

The 2017 event, which was a $5,300 tournament, attracted 1,186 entries and included an amazing field of local, national and international players including all-stars like Sam Trickett, Jason Koon, Carlos Mortensen, Upeshka De Silva, Jake Schwartz, Marc Andre Ladouceur, and many more.

When the dust settled and the 2017 final table was established, it included a local online legend (Philippe “takechip” D’Auteuil), two international stars (Matthew Waxman and Niall Farrell) and a Canadian superstar — Ari Engel — facing a who’s who of Quebec-based up-and-coming talent, including Rayan Chamas, Louis Boutin, and Jean-Pascal Savard.

Savard was the player that made his breakthrough in this event, taking the win for just under $1M in prize money.

The 2018 MILLIONS North America was an even bigger affair. There were 1,954 total entries including a very healthy dose of international poker talent: Marvin Rettenmaier, Antonio Esfandiari, Daniel Strelitz, Jeff Gross, Shannon Shorr, Joseph Cheong, Michael Watson, Tony Dunst, and many more. The final table saw Tommy Nguyen hit his best result prior to winning the WSOP Monster Stack bracelet exactly two months later, and Charles La Boissoniere also served notice that he was ready for the big time with his 5th place finish, which he built on by coming 3rd in the MILLIONS World event later last year. Heads up action was between Darryll Fish and the eventual winner Taylor Black.

Marquee Side Events

In addition to MILLIONS North America, the series will include two other events with $1,000,000 guarantees. The first of these is the Montreal Open, which features a buy-in of just $1,000 + $100 and gets underway on May 17. Players can also increase their potential ROI by qualifying via satellite — there are nine satellites (a total of 85 seats guaranteed) being held in the days leading up to the event.

The Montreal Open features 7 Day 1s and it’s an unlimited re-entry event — so players will have plenty of opportunities available to play their way into Day 2 and — eventually — into the money. In addition to the “normal” prize pool in the Montreal Open, there will also be 15 Main Event seats up for grabs in the tournament — so the players that go the deepest in the event will also play their way into the MILLIONS North America! The old cliché about bagging two birds with one stone comes to mind…

The second event boasting a Million Dollar guarantee is the $10,300 High Roller tournament, a three-day event beginning on May 23. Although the High Roller buy-in is the same as the Main Event, it definitely counts as a proper High Roller due to the unlimited re-entries that are permitted. If history is a guide, this will be a star-studded tourney with stars of the international poker scene throughout the field.

There has been a late addition to the schedule, a $25,000 + $300 Super High Roller event. This will be the second year running for this tournament, which saw Christopher Kruk take the win after Anthony Zinno’s pocket pair was counterfeit as two larger pairs came out among the community cards. The two-day, eight-handed event gets underway at 3:00 pm on May 25.

Other Side Events

Seven additional events round out the 2019 MILLIONS North America schedule, beginning with the event that kicks off the entire series, the Playground 200. This is big-event poker for a small buy-in. One of the trademarks of the Playground Poker experience is that they run every event, whether the buy-in is $220 or $25,300 — with the same care for detail, the same skilled dealers, and fully modern tournament structures. The Playground 200 is no exception. Other side events include a $550 six-max, a $660 “Big Bounty” (bounties are $500 each), and closing the series will be a $330 PLO Bounty event.

MILLIONS North America runs from May 13 – 26. Visit https://www.playground.ca for more information. ♠