Eric Afriat Returns to WPT Montreal With Records Within Reach

With a spot at the final table of WPT Choctaw already locked up for later this month, Eric Afriat is back on home soil for WPT Montreal looking to add to his list of successes at Playground.

Tim Fiorvanti
May 18, 2024
Eric Afriat has a chance to make history later this month as he chases a record-tying fourth WPT title at WPT Choctaw.

By the time the month of May comes to a close, Eric Afriat may well have a share of one of the most coveted records in World Poker Tour history – the most WPT Main Tour titles.

A few weeks ago, the three-time WPT champion locked up a spot at the final table of WPT Choctaw. A Win at the HyperX Arena in Las Vegas. When that final table resumes, Afriat will have a chance to win his fourth WPT title, which would tie him atop the all-time list with Darren Elias.

There’s only one way the scenario could get any better for Afriat heading into the WPT Choctaw final table, and that’s if he’s going for sole possession of the record outright.

That’s a major leap to make with registration still open at WPT Montreal until the start of Day 2 on Sunday. But there are two factors working in his favor to this point: bagging one of the biggest stacks on Day 1B of the tournament, and his history on both the WPT and at Playground Poker Club in particular.

Afriat has tasted considerable success throughout his career at Playground, a poker room in his hometown of Montreal. In 2017, Afriat made two separate WPT final tables in Montreal; that February, Afriat finished third at WPT Playground, and then returned in November to finish fifth at WPT Montreal. He now sits at 8 career WPT final tables overall, tied for third-best all-time with Scotty Nguyen.

The first of those two Montreal final tables, WPT Playground, still sits with Afriat among the close calls that could already have had him at that four WPT title final table mark.

“I had three-quarters of the chips in play the year I lost against Ema [Zajmovic], and that still stings seven years later,” said Afriat. “Because to win in my hometown, and to win a WPT in my hometown… and that big, beautiful belt? Yeah, it’d be even nicer than a trophy.”

Another factor working in Afriat’s favor is the run of form he’s been on. Beyond making the WPT Choctaw final table earlier this month, thus far in 2024 Afriat’s also won his first title in the PokerGO Studio in Las Vegas and made his first career European Poker Tour final table, in Paris.

Afriat was hesitant to heap praise upon himself in the moments after bagging up another big stack following Day 1B at WPT Montreal, but he is appreciative of another uptick in a career that’s had quite a few of them.

“What’s incredible is you feel that you’re playing the best poker, but I’m the same player playing the same way for the last 10 years,” said Afriat. “When the guy upstairs decides that the cards are gonna come your way, they’re gonna come your way.

“I can brag about it, but 2023 I had the worst year. I couldn’t travel,” said Afriat. “So now, 2024 is my year. I just feel very optimistic, and I feel like I’m really playing well.”

This is a particularly happy moment for Afriat, to see the WPT return to Playground, to Montreal, and to Canada in general. Afriat won his third career WPT title at WPT Fallsview in February 2020, the most recent Main Tour stop on Canadian soil before this edition of WPT Montreal.

“WPT hasn’t come back to Montreal since 2019,” said Afriat. “Playground had two WPTs a year, and it was the greatest event, they were all coming from all over the world. You can tell that the Americans haven’t crossed the border as much lately.

“It doesn’t get better than the Playground with the dealers, the organization,” said Afriat. “I keep on like I’m the biggest ambassador for them, but I’m not getting paid or anything. I’m just proud of his place.”

As for what he planned to do with his extra off day on Saturday, Afriat carries one final advantage here at WPT Montreal – an intimate knowledge of the area, and family and friends in the area to spend it with. He’ll be looking to make another run once cards are back in the air on Day 2 Sunday, but for 24 hours poker will be the furthest thing from his mind.

“To have a nice stack going into Day 2, having a day off on a Saturday and spending time with the family is wonderful. “Maybe enjoying a nice round of golf for the first time this season because the weather’s nice. I’m looking forward to my day off.”