Sunday, 5th February 2023 03:46
Home / PokerStars Ontario: Get to know our community

The poker community in Ontario is vibrant and robust, and tens of thousands of players have now migrated to the new PokerStars Ontario client. Let’s meet some of them.

Poker in Ontario has become more local. Players in the province may no longer be able to access global online poker products, but that doesn’t mean the game has dried up. Far from it.

The PokerStars Ontario client has seen tens of thousands of players migrate over from, and they can now compete against fellow Ontarians in tournaments, cash games, Spin & Go’s and more.

Players can even get involved in big tournament series. Kicking this off in October, the inaugural Ontario Championship of Online Poker (ONCOOP) will be the biggest online poker series that the province has seen to date.

Worried the fields and prize pools will be too small? You’re not alone. Even PokerStars Team Pro Arlie Shaban–an Ontario resident–was worried when the change first happened. But he’s been crushing it since Day 1 on PokerStars Ontario.

“I figured with something this big and different, it would be worth sticking around and seeing what it’s like,” he told us. “Then the change happened, and it went way better than I thought. I’m way more excited to play poker every day now.

“Every game I play is new. There are new buy-ins, new structures, and new players I’m playing against. Plus, I have to tag everyone differently, so I’m trying to figure out the best way to adapt to this client at the same time everyone else is. It’s a lot of fun trying to do that.”

But who could you and Shaban be playing against on PokerStars Ontario?

In a new series of advertisements, PokerStars has introduced your local competition. Let’s get to know them a bit better.


36 years old
Alliston, ON

Andrew Malloch

Andrew is a casual poker player with three loves: fashion, basketball, and his dog, Buddy Gamble.

“I’ve been playing poker since around 2003. My grandma, who taught me how to play cards originally, had passed away and when we arrived at her house to meet the rest of the family, everyone was buzzing around, not really watching the TV. But I noticed a man named Moneymaker was on it winning a lot of money by just playing cards.

“Over the course of the weekend, I watched the entire 2003 World Series of Poker. That led to me learning for a few years and eventually playing for a living in my early 20s in live games. These days though, I am not a huge fan of the casino atmosphere as I don’t like straight gambling, so I find myself playing online more and more. Especially because I enjoy tournaments and there really isn’t anyone else offering tournaments daily here.

“The player pool is smaller here, so you get to know the regular tournament players a lot faster. The odds of actually winning an event seem to be better for us in Ontario, too.

“My dog Buddy often comes to check in on me when I’m playing on PokerStars. I’m starting to stream my play on Twitch too, so he makes regular appearances on camera. When I have a winning session he gets a choice of chew treat, and when I have a big win he gets a new squeak toy, although they only last for around 10 minutes!”

What would you say to anyone in Ontario who hasn’t switched to the new client yet?

“PokerStars is doing some pretty awesome things for us here in Ontario.

“While we’ve lost access to global events, many Ontario players have been having more success in this localised player pool. It’s also fun getting to know the players. The chat is very active, and poker is more fun when you have a history with your opponents.”

If you live in Ontario, check out: PokerStars Ontario: All you need to know


33 years old
Kitchener, ON

Clarissa Diokno

Clarissa is an aspiring singer/songwriter building her fanbase in Kitchener.

“I remember going to a friend’s house and seeing all the guys playing poker for chump change. I didn’t know how to play and was very intrigued and wanted to
learn. They taught me the basic rules of Texas Hold’em and the poker hand rankings, and I’ve loved it ever since.

“I only play a few times per week, but I’ve come in first place in a lot of Sit & Go’s over the years and have placed highly in some bigger tournaments – I’ve yet to win a big one though! Fingers crossed!

“I’m really enjoying using the PokerStars mobile app. Whether I’m sitting at home, or I have some time to kill when I’m out, I’ll open up the app and play a Spin & Go for a few minutes. It’s so easy! I love that you can play in either portrait or landscape mode, and it’s very user-friendly. I also love that you can unlock Chests to win rewards when you collect enough points from playing real money games.

“I also think it’s cool that we’re playing against other Ontarians as it feels more like a close community.”

What would you say to anyone in Ontario who hasn’t switched to the new client yet?

“What are you waiting for?! It’s easy to switch to PokerStars Ontario. Let’s build up the Ontario poker community!”


55 years old
Vaughn, ON

Lisa Powell

Lisa loves to have fun while playing poker and often gets her nails painted in poker themes.

“My name is Lisa and I’ve been playing under the screen name “Blondegurly” on PokerStars since 2015. I’m a Registered Nurse here in Toronto with 30 years of experience.

“I’ve always been competitive as a downhill skier and played on a travelling girls softball team. I’m now older and unable to participate competitively, however, I feel poker has fuelled my competitive edge and desire again.

“I also wanted to learn poker to maintain my mental sharpness (online poker allowed me to de-stress and mentally recharge nightly during the pandemic) and to meet new people both locally and internationally, which has been a huge blessing as I have many new friendships.

“I’m a member of the WPA (Women’s Poker Association), PLON (Poker League of Nations) and FLIP (Fantastic Ladies in Poker) and travel to play poker internationally several times a year. You’ll find me weekly at my local club: Toronto Poker Place. However, I play online daily.

“My favourite games online are the quick three-handed Spin and Go’s. I won the grand prize of $3,000 in a $1 spin in 2015! I also enjoy Sit & Go’s and bounty tournaments.

“I love the layout of PokerStars and the ability to have fun and interact with the flaming heart and fishy Throwables you can fire over to your opponents. This often spurs hand conversations and allows for continued learning.”

What would you say to anyone in Ontario who hasn’t switched to the new client yet?

“The best thing about the switchover is the new daily tournament schedule, especially the Midnight Hyper which I won two weeks ago! I’m enjoying the smaller playing fields and overlays.”


52 years old
Sunderland, ON

Ron Houston

Ron is an outdoorsman who loves fishing as much as playing poker in Home Games with friends.

“I believe I played for the first time when I went to a friend’s cottage in northern Ontario, and we played late into the Saturday night. I didn’t do very well that night, but I had a lot of fun!

“Being a fairly competitive person, I started doing some research, watching poker on TV and reading books to learn more about the game. That led to more home games, live poker at a local bar and the start of my online poker journey. Today I play Home Games on PokerStars with my friends a couple of times a month and micro stakes ($5NL).

“I think it’s fun to play against people that are in the same province and obviously my home game experience is with local players. I’ve noticed that the strategy and style of play has changed pretty significantly since I switched from the global pool to the Ontario pool. That made me think about my own strategy, study different situations and adapt my play which has improved my play even more.

“I like to fish and play golf and those both require practice and study just like poker does. When I get focussed on a hobby I tend to go all in and spend a lot of time trying to get better. I also like the competition factor in fishing, golf and poker. From a certain perspective, you’re competing against yourself but you’re also competing against the fish or the other players. I’m always looking to hook the fish in the pond whether that’s at the lake or at the tables on PokerStars!

“Zoom is one of my favorite styles of play on PokerStars. Sometimes you go card dead, and you won’t play a hand for several minutes on a regular table but in a Zoom session, you can fold that hand and immediately move to another hand without having to wait for the previous hand to play out. This also helps me stay focused and practice the techniques I’ve been studying much quicker. More hands in a session, more interesting situations and hopefully more winnings!”

What would you say to anyone in Ontario who hasn’t switched to the new client yet?

“PokerStars definitely has the best player pool and community in Ontario by far. The number of people in that pool has continued to increase over the last couple of months which means the number of tables and tournaments available is getting better every day. Not to mention the home games, the free challenges and competing against your fellow Ontarians. All of this has made the transition to the Ontario version of PokerStars a positive one for me.”


28 years old
Brampton, ON

Bretten is a content creator who loves poker and video gaming.

Bretten Roisl

“My poker Journey so far has been a long and interesting one. I started out playing micro stakes on PokerStars around 10 years ago. I wasn’t very good, but I enjoyed the game and the competition. I hungered to learn more, so I started reading all sorts of poker books. Super System by Doyle Brunson, The Theory of Poker, the Mental Game of Poker, and many more. This helped me improve my game, but I still had a ton to learn.

“After university, I didn’t play that much until I moved to Australia in 2016. I noticed they had live events in bars, and you could play the local games. I joined a $20 Cash & Satellite tournament with 40 people and won it that week, so I came back the next week, and won it again!

“I was starting to really find a groove. I qualified for a free ticket to the WSOP Playoffs in Sydney, Australia so I played that a few weeks later, with 400+ entries. Ten hours later, I found myself sitting at the final table. I finished fourth.

“Now I play casually as I work full time, and I have played at all the local spots and casinos in Toronto. You’ll see me around these days still playing live, but mostly online. I stream occasionally on Twitch as well, while I continue to grow my poker skills and video skills.

“The fields on PokerStars Ontario seem very soft, it’s like the poker boom is back like it was in the early 2000s. I’m winning a lot more and more consistently, now that we get to see the same players more often. I feel like I’m becoming a more known player now, and I find myself wanting to stream my final tables a few times a week.”

What would you say to anyone in Ontario who hasn’t switched to the new client yet?

“Why not? The fields are smaller, which means more final tables, and the fields seem easier than the global pool. Plus, on the cash game tables, you will see more familiar faces, and you’ll get to battle it out with them more often. Get in on the action, and if you see me at the table, let me know in the chat box!”

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