Eliot Hudon and Frederic Normand Enjoy Homecoming as WPT Champions

Since the last time Eliot Hudon and Frederic Normand played at Playground Poker Club, the two friends from Quebec have each enjoyed tremendous success and joined the WPT Champions Club.

Tim Fiorvanti
May 18, 2024
WPT Champions Club members Eliot Hudon (left) and Frederic Normand (right).

It’s been a wild couple of years for Eliot Hudon and Frederic Normand. As friends from Quebec, they built themselves up as poker players playing live and online events close to home in Canada before each branched out and found their greatest poker successes by heading south of the border.

Hudon was first to strike, and he did so on one of the biggest stages poker has to offer by winning the inaugural edition of the WPT World Championship at Wynn Las Vegas for $4.136 million in 2022. He set a high bar for his friend Fred, but the last 12 months have shown Normand is also capable of tremendous things in poker.

Within a year Normand had also joined the WPT Champions Club, winning the WPT bestbet Scramble in November for $351,650. He then set a new career-best live score a month later by winning a massive $1,600 side event during the 2023 edition of the WPT World Championship at Wynn Las Vegas for $417,828 and final tabled WPT Prime Aix-en Provence in February.

This week, both men returned to Montreal, the site of their earliest days in poker, as conquering heroes and WPT Champions. Both are in the WPT Montreal field trying to add to their growing lists of accomplishments, and thinking back to a time not too long ago when they were still trying to make it.

“I met Eliot playing at a Montreal casino,” said Normand. “I noticed right away, he was very, very good. Back then, he was playing smaller stuff and I approached him to help him out and stuff. Then we became friends ever since then. Now he’s one of the best in the world, probably, so it’s pretty cool. It’s been a couple of years, probably for four or five.”

“He’s one of my first-ever friends in poker, so to see him and a couple of others also succeeding at the same time is pretty cool, obviously,” said Hudon.

Both Hudon and Normand have spent the last couple of years playing frequently in WPT Main Tour events, but WPT Montreal is the first time both of them have been back and interacting with the community in which their poker skills were sharpened. For Normand in particular, whose first career live cash came at Playground almost 10 years ago, it’s been especially surreal.

Coming back home and getting recognition from those players has been a different kind of experience thus far in the trip.

After winning WPT titles over the last two years, Frederic Normand and Eliot Hudon have returned home to Quebec to try to add to their growing poker resumes.

“Some people they tried to point at me, some are cool about it and some may joke about it,” said Normand. “But it’s a little different. Lots of respect I would say. And people are usually pretty proud, so it’s cool. I hadn’t been to Playground since winning, so it’s cool to come back here where I played forever.”

“It’s been very nice to play at home, finally,” said Hudon. “It feels like it took a while for Montreal to start having some bigger events again.”

As the week at Playground has played out, there’s been a major reminder of the impact Hudon’s made in poker. The TVs in the main poker room have been showing the broadcast of Hudon’s WPT World Championship run for the first time on traditional airwaves. Hudon hasn’t seen any of those episodes as of yet, but still feels it’s a bit surreal that he’s on TV.

“I watched it a bit on YouTube, but I haven’t seen on the TV yet,” Hudon said of his 2022 WPT World Championship win. “But if I see it, yeah, it’ll be a little funny to see myself, I guess.”

The successes that players from Quebec have enjoyed in Montreal are easy to understand, because of how much of the field they tend to represent in events like WPT Montreal. But players from this area in Canada have had an outsized list of results in events worldwide. Whether it be WPT titles like Hudon, Normand, and Eric Afriat, the WSOP Main Event and a long list of other bracelet events or the European Poker Tour, French Canadians seem to get it done in major events, often with at least a few Montreal Canadiens sweaters on the players or their rails.

If Hudon or Normand holds the secret as to why players from Quebec have enjoyed so much success, they’re not sharing it. But as each continues to grow their poker legacies, they have a healthy appreciation for the forge in which their careers were made.

“We’re a small but strong community,” said Hudon.

“Over the years we just get to know each other a lot,” said Normand. “Some of us play online, so we exchange messages and stuff, and when we go overseas or across the border, we see each other there. The level of players is very, very good here, and I think we have some of the best in the world.”