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World Series of Poker Main Event Champ Argues Poker Is Game Of Chance To Avoid Tax Payment

2010 Champion Jonathan Duhamel Is Arguing Against Conventional Poker Wisdom To Avoid A Seven-Figure Tax From The Canadian Government

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Jonathan Duhamel racked up $18.2 million in live tournament earnings over the course of his poker career thanks to his exceptional poker skill. He just can’t say that to the Canadian government.

A report from The Canadian states that tax authorities are pursuing $1.2 million in back taxes from the Quebec native, who won the World Series of Poker main event in 2010 for $8.9 million. Most Canadian poker players have the luxury of keeping the entirety of their winnings because according to Canadian tax laws, earnings from games of chance are not taxable.

While poker is generally classified as a game of chance, the Canada Revenue Agency claims Duhamel owes the government on money won from poker tournaments between 2010-2012 because Duhamel was operating as a business. If the CRA wins the case, it could be doubly painful for the three-time WSOP bracelet winner as Revenu Quebec could then pursue a case and force Duhamel to cough up another $2.4 million.

The CRA cited Duhamel’s former sponsorship with PokerStars, which was worth $1 million consisting of $480,000 in cash and $520,000 in tournament buy-ins, the fact he has had an agent since 2010, his “hedging operation” more commonly referred to in the poker world as “swapping action” with other poker players, and the fact that poker was his sole source of income aside from his investments, as to why he should be considered a business.

The CRA also used a few less-than-stellar arguments to make the case. The agency pointed to the fact that he “behaves like a serious businessman” when he is at the table, that he “considers himself” a professional poker player, and that he is “constantly on the lookout for new strategies.”

To combat those charges, Duhamel must downplay his own skill advantage and claim it was all thanks to Lady Luck.

According to the report, Duhamel is arguing that his “substantial” $8.9 million score “is only the result of chance.” Sure, his skill level may have been above the average player in the field, but the cards still needed to fall his way to win that specific event. In other words, without a little good fortune, he wouldn’t have won the money.

He also claims that he never received any formal poker training, he never used a specific system that would tilt the odds in his favor, and that his PokerStars sponsorship only came as a result of his main event victory, another circumstance of chance.

The case is scheduled to be heard in court in March of 2021.

 
 
 
 

Comments

rkmunro
26 days ago

We all saw him crack AA with JJ. That takes a lot skill! :)

 
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Tim12345
26 days ago

I am primarily of the "taxation is theft" camp, but based on Canadian tax law, he is definitely operating as a business. Of course there is chance is poker, but their is reason that best players usually win. I think government "revenuers" are pretty much the scum of the earth but I am torn as to whether I think his hypocrisy is any more noble.

 
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Haley
26 days ago

Even in normal business - like real professions other than poker - CHANCE is part of your success. You may or may not connect with potential customers - it takes skill and some measure of good luck to win projects and win work or win a sale... Not everything is pure skill... It is chance if you are starting your business in a good economic cycle or in a BAD economic cycle... You may have prepared for five years to launch your restaurant in April 2020 - and it was BAD LUCK if you did.... Just because chance factors into everything (the randomness of the universe) fortune favors the well prepared - which is where SKILL comes in... We all know that there are people who are professional poker players... They play for a living... if you do that - you are a pro and you should be taxed. The proof would be - well - what else are you doing when you are NOT playing poker? Do you have a job that supports you? That is probably the simplest test for me...

 
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oliveras19
26 days ago

IF POKER IS A GAME OF CHANCE THEN WHY ARE THERE DOZENS OF ONLINE POKER COACHING SITES. ARE THOSE SITES SCAMS? WHAT WOULD BERKEY, LITTLE, ETC. SAY ABOUT WHY THEY ARE TEACHING POKER STRATEGY TO THEIR STUDENTS?

 
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AceMason99
25 days ago

It would be great if Canada starts issuing taxes for poker, then I can write off my losses. The Canadian government should realize that most people don't win millions of dollars in the game and end up spending lots in entry fees.

 
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