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Golden Knights star gets poker lesson on opening day of WSOP

Jonathan Marchessault would prefer to be playing hockey, not cards.

But with the Golden Knights eliminated from the NHL playoffs in the opening round, Marchessault had some unwanted time on his hands Tuesday.

The All-Star forward was at Paris Las Vegas for the opening of the 55th World Series of Poker. Marchessault performed the ceremonial “shuffle up and deal” announcement to kick off the event before he sat down in the $5,000 buy-in Champions Reunion No-Limit Hold’em Freezeout tournament.

“I’m in Vegas, and one of my good friends is part of the (WSOP) organization and thought of me,” Marchessault said. “I was pretty happy to be invited here.”

The WSOP runs through July 17 at Paris and Horseshoe Las Vegas with 99 live events. That includes the $10,000 buy-in Main Event No-limit Hold’em World Championship starting July 3.

Marchessault was one of the featured players in the first-ever Champions Reunion tournament, the opening event on the schedule this summer. The unique format gives players who knock out a former Main Event champion an automatic entry into this year’s Main Event as a bounty. All living Main Event champions were given a free entry.

“I told my buddy I don’t want to be the first one out, and I would like to get somebody out. So we’ll how long I last,” Marchessault said.

The Knights often play cards on their team plane during road trips, but Marchessault revealed it’s usually a game called “13 up, 13 down.” He said poker is reserved for when the team makes the postseason, along with the occasional game during the year.

“With the chips on the plane, sometimes it gets a little rocky,” Marchessault said. “But we play every year in the playoffs, and we play during the season maybe once or twice. For a while, guys put in some good amount of money. Not necessarily like this, but it’s still fun.”

This was the first time Marchessault entered a WSOP event, and he received a lesson from six-time WSOP event winner Daniel Negreanu before the start of the Champions Reunion tournament in a brief heads-up match.

Negreanu is a Knights season-ticket holder, but this was the first time they met in person. The fellow Canadians shared some laughs at the table, and Negreanu passed along a few tips before taking all of Marchessault’s chips in less than 10 hands.

“It was just practice, so I didn’t care. It’s not my real money, but that’s his thing,” Marchessault said. “He’s such an easy guy to speak with. Great personality.”

The Knights were eliminated by Dallas in the opening round, and the Stars hold a 2-1 series lead over Edmonton in the Western Conference Final. Marchessault said he believes the Stars, led by former Knights coach Pete DeBoer, will win go on to win the Stanley Cup.

“I still think that us and Dallas was the two best teams in the West and the winner of that series was going to make it to the finals,” Marchessault said. “They’re a really good team. I definitely would love to see Pete … get a Cup.”

Contact David Schoen at dschoen@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203. Follow @DavidSchoenLVRJ on X.

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