By Sean Chaffin
He was seeing it but still couldn’t quite believe it. After playing a few hours, it appeared Pierre Corbeil (pictured) had bested a field of more than 1,800 players at ClubWPT. Despite his win, the fact he’d won a $12,500 package to play in the WPT L.A. Poker Classic just hadn’t sunk in. It seemed too unreal to believe.
“I wanted to be sure,” he remembers. “I didn’t believe it.”
Corbeil had his wife Chantal read the screen to make sure he wasn’t wrong. The difference between first and second was stark – a trip to play one of the most prestigious events in poker versus $150.
“I was in the kitchen and I heard him saying, ‘Oh my god, we’re going to Los Angeles,” Chantal remembers.
The trip was indeed a reality and was certainly a nice result after playing on the site for only about six months. This was the first tournament he’s won on the site and Corbeil saved that win for a big one.
The Corbeils are from Montreal, Quebec, have been married 31 years, and have two grown sons. This is now his first poker trip to the U.S. A retired pharmacist, Corbeil began playing poker during the height of Internet poker in the 2000s.
“I began playing just for fun and then began playing for money after that,” he says. “I love playing poker.”
The 62-year-old normally prefers playing online, but also has a home game he plays in with friends. He was among those in the Day 1 field and was trying to overcome some nerves after seeing so many familiar players in the field.
“It’s been great, it’s very impressive,” he said of the experience. “But I’m a little stressed because there are some big players here.”
Here at the Commerce, Corbeil is hoping to bring some more of that ClubWPT magic to the table. Along with the opportunity to win some big West Coast cash, he becomes the latest qualifier with another shot at a bonus $1 million. In 2020, the WPT is offering an extra million dollar bonus to any ClubWPT VIP qualifier who goes on to win the event in which he or she qualified.
The trip to Los Angeles has also worked as a nice vacation for the Corbeils. On Friday, they hit the golf course. A deep run could make that California trip even more special.
“It’s been a good experience,” he says. “I’ll do my best.”
Sean Chaffin is a freelance writer in Crandall, Texas, and his work appears in numerous websites and publications. Follow him on Twitter @PokerTraditions.