Darryll Fish Found a Second Home at Playground in Montreal

Darryll Fish, the winningest tournament poker player in the history of Playground Poker Club, has a deep appreciation for Montreal but doesn’t believe there’s any extra-special magic when it comes to playing here.

Tim Fiorvanti
May 16, 2024
Darryll Fish has cashed in 5 WPT Main Tour events in Montreal and has over $1.1 million in lifetime earnings at Playground Poker Club.

When it comes to Darryll Fish and Playground Poker Club in Montreal, the 38-year-old pro from Florida has enjoyed more live tournament success than any other player.

Fish has cashed in five different WPT Main Tour stops at Playground, but the bulk of Fish’s $1,193,877 in lifetime earnings at the venue come down to two results – second in the 2015 edition of WPT Montreal, and another runner-up in the 2018 partypoker Millions North America, with the latter netting him $937,221.

So is there something in the water when it comes to being in Montreal?

Matt Salsberg jokes about something called ‘geographical run-good theory’ – which I don’t believe is true – that we’re just destined to run better in a certain place,” said Fish. “But that’s all just variance and randomness as far as I’m concerned. I mean, being the winningest player in Montreal is the result of one lucky tournament result here, so I don’t really put a whole lot of stock in that. However, other people will, so that provides me with sort of an extra advantage at the table.

“People will read an article like the one you’ll write, and they will then react based on the fact that I have that accolade, even though it’s literally just one lucky tournament. Well, two, but anyway… I think that it makes me feel better knowing that, and I am able to take advantage of that dynamic being aware of how people perceive me, which is one of the most important things in poker.”

That doesn’t mean that Playground or Montreal in general is on level ground with other cities or venues, though, as Fish has fond memories on many fruitful trips north of the border.

“I love this city and I love this poker room,” said Fish. “Obviously I’m biased, I’ve had a lot of success here. But even putting that aside, this is a really, really well-run establishment as anyone here would attest to. Montreal, in all my travels and all the years of traveling for poker, it’s one of the top three cities I love the most.”

When the world shut down in 2020, it cut Canada off from Fish and the rest of the international poker community. Venues were slow to reopen, and it took the World Poker Tour five years to return. Likewise, Fish didn’t find a good opportunity to return to Quebec in the interim.

“Before COVID I was coming here at least once or twice a year, for the poker as well as for the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival they used to have which, rest in peace,” Fish said of the now defunct annual showcase. “I haven’t been here now in like five, six years, and I was desperately waiting for the next tournament here.”

Just over a month ago, Fish wasn’t even aware that WPT Montreal had returned for this season of the World Poker Tour until a chance encounter with WPT Executive Tour Director Matt Savage sent him on a path to familiar ground.

“I was on the WPT [Voyage] and Savage was at my table, talking about Montreal,” said Fish. “I said, ‘Wait, what? It’s back?’”

Thus far, Fish has once again enjoyed mixing it up with the best Montreal has to offer. Before sitting down for Day 1A of WPT Montreal, Fish built up a stack in several preliminary events in the festival, including the WPT Prime Montreal Championship.

With a little more luck, Fish hopes WPT Montreal is exactly what he needs to kick off the busiest window on the poker calendar.

“I cashed the first two tournaments I played, and I’m looking forward to going deep in the main championship, hopefully,” said Fish. “I’m gonna go to Vegas for most of the summer grind, a pretty full schedule. Last year, I only went for the [WSOP] Main, so I’m really excited to play a lot of tournaments this summer and see how I can do.”

With eyes focused squarely on the present, though, Fish did take a moment to appreciate just how special the time he’s spent at Playground has been. Four of his five best career results have either come in Montreal or in his backyard at Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood, and so when he’s away from Florida it’s almost like it’s another taste of home cooking.

“I do feel that there are certain places that you feel more or less comfortable, or more or less confident against the players in the player pool,” said Fish. “It makes sense that I would do better at Hard Rock [Hollywood], for example, and apparently, this is my other home.”