Jonathan Duhamel – First Class Canadian Poker ChampTweet Share
The journey began three years ago when Jonathan Duhamel deposited $100 into an online poker account and ended with him becoming a World Poker Champion and the hero to a nation. The 23-year-old former strawberry picker and college dropout will no longer have to worry about cash, having become $8.9 million richer for acing out Floridian John Racener in the WSOP Main Event.
The resident of Boucherville, Quebec is now Canadian poker champ, the first ever in the forty-year history of the event. He came into the second night of November Nine play with a 6-1 chip lead over Racener, and picked up the gold bracelet in less than 50 hands.
CEO of Harrah’s Interactive, the company that owns the World Series of Poker, Mitch Garber said Duhamel’s win will make him the most sought-after commodity in the poker world. “He becomes a legend in poker by winning the main event. He’s going to be a huge draw. Plus he seems to be a likable guy, so I think he’s going to carry that bracelet well.”
After partying all night in Vegas post-win, “I really haven’t had time to think about it at all,” Duhamel said Tuesday afternoon, a little dazed and slightly sleep-deprived. “I don’t think I realize what I just did.”
It may still be a little surreal, but his march to poker glory was measured and calculated. He unexpectedly bumped out pro Matt Affleck in 15th place in one of the more notable hands in the play leading up to the final table.
Then it was show time and when the Main Event resumed, Duhamel steadily bleeding chips proceeded to give up a big hand to Racener, then was up against Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi all-in with pocket threes. Holding ace-nine he called, even though that could have ended his final table, got lucky and caught two nines, sending “The Grinder” packing in fifth place.
Then he battled Joseph Cheong, knocking him out in third. After that he threw a change-up head to head with Racener, switching from constant aggression to a tighter style of play, and relied on his substantial chip lead.
He was graceful in winning, pointing out he had been lucky, and crediting his schooling and work ethic. He dropped out after spending two years studying finance at Universite du Quebec a Montreal, spent some time picking strawberries, working in a grocery store and in a factory before taking up poker full time.
“I was kind of getting tired of all those small jobs,” he said. “So when I thought maybe I had a chance in the world of poker, I just took it 100 per cent and did my best with it.”
Crediting his parents for supporting him when times were bad, it was important for him to have his father Luc, mother Johane and sister Karine in Vegas to witness his big win.
He also will be donating $100,000 from his winnings to the Montreal Canadiens Children’s Foundation. “When I came back from Las Vegas this summer, I thought about it and realized how lucky I am to be in this position,” he said. “I’m really blessed, and there are so many kids who aren’t as lucky, so I wanted to help them.”
During his reign as champ, he will travel the world playing tournaments as a representative of his sponsor, PokerStars.
As if winning the WSOP Main Event to finish 2010 wasn’t enough, Duhamel has gotten off the a red-hot start in 2011 as well. The PokerStars Pro grabbed the title in Event 30, No Limit Hold’em High Roller event at the 2011 EPT Deauville tournament in January, and earned $272,209. He followed that victory up with a 4th place finish and $125,000 at the 2011 NBC National Heads Up Poker Championship.
These tournaments have brought Duhamel’s totals to 2 titles, 10 cashes and nearly $9.5 million in career live earnings.