PCA 2014: From bar league to the Bahamas, Raymond Siu

Imagine Raymond Siu. He's an unassuming translator in a Toronto office who spends his Wednesday nights playing pub poker with the Toronto Poker League (TPL). It's a cold winter there. It's not been too long ago that weather shut down the city.

"Most of us didn't have power for four days," said Michael LeFrank, Tournament Director for the TPL.

For the past few days, the Canadian winter has been little more than a bad memory as 16 members of the Toronto Poker League walked under the Caribbean sun. Now, when they head back home, at least a couple of them can stuff their parkas with cash.

Siu and a fellow TPL member, Oksana Jancevic, both made the final table of a $1,000 side event here this week. Jancevic took sixth place for $14,000. Siu got heads up and chopped for $45,000. It took him 25 hours of poker over two days, but it's ended with a story he'll never forget.

"It was just constant tension," Siu said. "I felt like my heart rate was just constantly elevated."

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Raymond Siu

Siu was the winner of a 16-week series of events in Toronto, including free live tourneys and online at PokerStars. Before it was all said and done, Siu had beaten more than 700 people to make it here.

"This is my first major live event," he said.

The TPL's path here started back in 2010 when some of its members were here with former Team PokerStars Pro Darus Suharto. They fell in love with the place.

"We just had a great time," LeFrank said. "This became our favorite live event."

It's a totally different world for the Canadians. Back home, the bar poker is fun, but it only exists because they created it. They train their own dealers and floor staff. It's a big operation for a city with no big card room.

"There is no casino in Toronto," LeFrank said. "There is no opportunity for people to play to hone their skills."

Apparently the TPL is doing a fine job of that on their own. If anything, the training worked pretty darned well for Raymond Siu. He's got $45,000 to prove it--even if he has no idea what he's going to do with with the money.

"I don't even know yet," he said. "I'm still trying to digest it."

Brad Willis is the PokerStars Head of Blogging