Surprising advice from new WSOP world champion

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Posted on Nov 12th 2010  -  Subject: Surprising advice from new WSOP world champion

Imagine a 23 year old Quebec, Canada based poker pro winning the biggest prize in poker, the World Series of Poker Main Event and its $8.9 million dollar first prize. He has a throng of Montreal Canadiens hockey shirt wearing friends and supporters cheering him on at the final table, many of whom were established young poker players from the Montreal area who flew in to support him. After the historic win, they party hard in Las Vegas before flying home a few days later. At his first major press conference back home in Canada, Jonathan Duhamel's advice to those that might follow in his footsteps? "Don't."

“I see myself as an exception - this isn’t for everyone,” he said during a news conference in Montreal on Thursday.

"I don't want to glorify anything with that win," Duhamel said. "I'm just one lucky guy who got far in that tournament. I don't recommend anybody should quit school or stuff like that. I'm kind of an exception out there. ... I don't recommend anybody playing high stakes or stuff like that."

The hockey-loving kid from Boucherville, Quebec, dropped out of university, where he was studying for a finance degree, to pursue poker full time. Passionate for the game, he put in 40 hours a week honing his game for years before playing in the World Series of Poker. In fact, he sold off 45% of his action to lessen his investment and risk in the $10,000 World Series of Poker Main Event.

Duhamel puts it down mostly to luck to be able to best a field of 7,300 competitors. He is an online cash games player by trade. He hasn't even focused on his tournament game that much.

“Even the best player won’t win without luck,” he maintained. "I played well, but I was super lucky as well," he said. "That I know."

It is an interesting response by the new face of poker. He was sponsored by the largest online poker site, PokerStars, and he is destined to be a heavily marketed featured pro on their site for years to come. And yet he suggested players stick to low stakes and play for pleasure, not cash.

“There’s no reason to play with big amounts of money,” he said. “You can continue playing just for the fun of it and that’s OK.”

Duhamel does admit that the bracelet means a lot. "This means you're the world champion," he added. "It's amazing. The bracelet is more important than the money...and I could look at it for hours and hours."

Duhamel has already indicated his desire to give back with his new riches. He has already committed to donating $100,000 to the Montreal Canadiens childrens foundation. Overall he is taking a cautious approach. "I'll be careful with the money," he said. "I'm not the kind of guy who'll spend it all over the place. I'll take a bit of money to play but I won't go crazy. I'm a pretty quiet guy."

For a nation of 36 million with a passion for competition and sports, Canada seems poised for a poker boom of the likes that the US experienced after Chris Moneymaker initiated the US based poker boom in 2003 by coming out of nowhere to beat the established pros. It is a proven formula that charismatic compelling televised poker tournaments and the glorification of stars such as Duhamel can encourage casual players to jump in and risk losing money by feeling "this could be me."

“A college students who happens to be good at probabilities may do well against friends, they may even do well on poker sites. But that doesn’t mean they will be able to turn professional. Somebody is a shark one day and a fish the next.” As for Duhamel, he admitted he’ll be the big fish his rivals on the poker tournament circuit will try to hook.

“Everyone knows me now and will try to take me down,” he said. But Duhamel insisted, "I'll give my best every time....I'm sure they'll be gunning for me, hoping to beat the world champion."

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