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WSOP -- Duhamel Confident About His Chances Heading Into November

Chip Leader Hoping to Beat The Grinder Heads Up


Jonathan DuhamelJonathan Duhamel can already envision it — a heads-up battle with The Grinder wherein the young Canadian emerges victorious and takes home nearly $9 million and poker’s most prestigious title.

At 22, Duhamel is the youngest player at this year’s final table. With nearly 66 million in chips, he is also the far-and-away chip leader, with about 43 percent more than John Dolan, currently in second place, and nearly three times the amount of chips as third place, Joseph Cheong.

He is unabashed when it comes to talking about his chances in November.

“I’m going to win, 100 percent. I’m the best,” said Duhamel. “I’m going to play the best poker game I’ve ever played and win that thing.”

He has almost Hellmuthian-like confidence, somewhat fitting as he tries to become what would now be the third player to inch past the former champ’s outdated youngest-age mark. Phil Hellmuth was 24 when he won the 1989 WSOP. Peter Eastgate broke that record in 2008 by winning at the age of 22, with Joe Cada outdoing them both when he won last year at 21.

Despite his relative inexperience — he has cashed in a few previous premiere events, but his live winnings are lower than most of his final-table competitors — Duhamel has embraced the role of favorite due to his massive chip stack.

“I like that pressure [of being the chip leader]. I live on pressure,” said Duhamel.

Jonathan DuhamelAfter growing up and going to school in Montreal, Duhamel became so enraptured by the game that he dropped out of college after one year to pursue poker as a career. The former finance student admits his parents weren’t exactly thrilled by the decision.

“It was tough to start with. They were not happy about it, but they understand. I explained it to them and now it’s fine,” said Duhamel, who considers himself primarily a cash-game player.

Despite his self-identification as a cash-game player, the young pro certainly showed his tournament prowess by taking advantage of the November Nine bubble situation. With a decent pay jump between 10th place and ninth ($635,011 to $811,823) and an even more significant financial jump when you consider lost sponsorship opportunities for the one player who did not make the final table, play tightened up considerably when it got down to 10-handed.

Multiple November Niners likened it to feeling almost like a satellite where there were nine winners and one loser. Nearly everyone tightened up to try to squeak into the final table, and Duhamel punished them for it.

In the six hours it took to eliminate 10th-place finisher Brandon Steven, Duhamel chipped up from the mid-40 millions to nearly 66 million in chips — without ever reaching a showdown. Along with Dolan, Duhamel applied constant and consistent aggression.

When interviewed after the fact, the young pro almost seemed more annoyed than anything else that no one would gamble it up with him.

“It was the most boring play ever,” Duhamel complained. “Everybody was so tight, so because I was the chip leader, I had to abuse that and raise a lot of pots, so that’s what I did.”

Besides just opening with virtually any two cards, he also said that he was re-raising very light to gain even more chips from his opponents. Cheong, who tried to ratchet up the aggression when it got to 10-handed, went from around 41 million to 23 million during 10-handed play because he kept opening a lot of pots, only to watch as Duhamel or Dolan raised him out of the hand.

Although Duhamel showed his abilities throughout the tournament, he was also the beneficiary of one of the most talked about hands in the final few levels. Matt Affleck, making his second consecutive deep run in the main event, pushed his remaining chips into the pot on a board of 10Diamond Suit 9Club Suit 7Heart Suit QDiamond Suit. After going into the tank, Duhamel wound up making the wrong decision. He called with pocket jacks, only to watch somberly as Affleck turned over pocket aces.

The pot had a monstrous 42 million in chips. The winner would be guaranteed a spot in the final nine. Affleck needed to avoid 10 outs to book his ticket to the Penn & Teller Theater. Unfortunately for him, an 8Diamond Suit came out on the river to complete Duhamel’s straight and transform the top of the leader board.

Duhamel admitted he was a little shell-shocked and even tilted after the hand, saying he was mad at himself for making what he called a bad play. But as everyone knows, to beat a field of thousands, you need to get lucky every now and then.

During the final few breaks of the last day of play, Duhamel would prance around just away from the table and do some shadowboxing to stay focused. The energetic young pro told Card Player that he will be more than up for the fight come this November.



12 years ago

I’m going to win, 100 percent. I’m the best,” Yet another very humble very modest twenty something. I hope you finish in 9th place. Why is it that arrogant rude, thoughtless idiots always end up in this position just like that little pig Obrestad. It's one thing to be good but it's another thing to be good at what you do and know how to handle it. Once again i hope you finish 9th. Go John Racener. John is a likeable guy with alot of talent for the game. I hope this kid not only finishes 9th but i hope he dislocates a shoulder when he is shadow boxing or breaks a stick when he is running around celebrating! Someday son i hope you learm humility and modesty, just look at Darvin Moon last year, wasnt the best player but was thankful for the position he was in.


12 years ago

@ hitking1 Well said, very well said !!

Unfortunately it has now become standard for any player to go rushing to the rail after winning one hand, whooping away. No thought given to the loser at that moment at all.

Why? Is it really that necessary, important or constructive to be high-fiving your 'support group' after winning one pot?

You never saw gentlemen like Doyle or Harrington screaming and flapping their arms about in celebration!?!?

**scratches and shakes head**


12 years ago

very well said hitking1 !
i hope this idiot finish 9th in November, cuz seems like
he made a terrible call with almost all his chips and sucked out ...... plus this guy looks cocky..... so i hope he dont win
this year's Main Event.


12 years ago

Hopefully Duhamel will rethink this loser image problem before the big day. Prancing around after you suck out on someone is deplorable.

What is it about Canadian poker players. Not all, but many are very sad pathetic little people. Get the chip off your shoulders, and get over the little man syndrom. The condom companies make smaller condoms for India, not Canada.

I think the problem is that the role models the Canadian poker players look up to are inadequate. The most famous of all is simply a fake.

Where did this begin? Do they teach this in their schools. Do they learn this from their leaders. It is so accepted by their peers that it is hard to think it is not a learned behavior.

I would like to see a real man come out of Canada and be succesful in the poker world.


12 years ago

Very well said @ iambobby - although I go further and say it is deplorable to be prancing around when you win a pot irrespective if it is a suck out or your best hand holding up.

It is not just Canadians, it is all of you North Americans. You yanks just love to whoop and hollar about, high fiving and chanting 'USA, USA' - it's VERY tiresome and VERY common.


12 years ago

The running around high fiving thing, I would say, is not segregated to North America as a whole ... In my opinion, it's simply the young poker playing generation ... It's the young players sitting back on a Sunday watching the NFL player beat his chest and flex after sacking the QB, despite the fact that his team is loosing 7 - 42 ... or the soccer player who feels the need to soar like an airplane and slide into the corner after scoring the insignificant 5th goal in a 5 - 0 game in the 89th min ... unfortunately it's a result of these kids growing up with athletic icons that would rather look good than win the game ... sad sad sad ....


12 years ago

.... shows a lack of sportsmanship and respect for the others you are competeing against ... save the jumping around and high-fiving for when you actually WIN the tourny ...


12 years ago

“I’m going to win, 100 percent. I’m the best,” said Duhamel.

This isn't about arrogant. It's about ignorances. Being extremely lucky instead of being good is what he really is. He made huge mistakes against his opponents and hit his draws to win and yet he keep thinking he's good. What a fool.

And if somehow he managed to make it into HSP game. I would love so see how the real pro beat up that self proclaimed "the best" since he claim to really be a cash game player.