World Champion Jonathan Duhamel

December cover

30 November 2010

Best thing so far? I’ve been washing the bracelet every day; it’s a beautiful bracelet. No plans to sell it on eBay.

It's fair to say that things have gone a bit mental for Jonathan Duhamel since his November Nine win. Bluff Europe caught up with the Canadian to talks bracelets, cash and of course that life changing hand with Joseph Cheong. Meet poker's newest World Champion.

Who was Jonathan Duhamel before all this?

I was playing mostly 6-max cash. It’s a lot easier to go from cash games to tournaments than vice-versa. I tried to adjust as much as I can but I think I did a good job. I’ll still be playing cash games online, but slightly less so because I’ll have tournaments and stuff to work on.

Has your life gone mental?

The first week has been crazy but the best thing ever. I’ve been doing all sorts of interviews. Now it’s calming down a bit so I can breathe a little bit. I knew it would be crazy; the first press conference in Montreal had so many people there. The second one, in Toronto, still had lots of people too and it was pretty crazy. I enjoy it, though, it’s kind of fun.

What’s the best thing so far about winning?

Best thing so far? I’ve been washing the bracelet every day; it’s a beautiful bracelet. No plans to sell it on eBay.

Are you comfortable being a ‘poker ambassador’?

For anyone playing poker, winning the Main Event is the dream. Of everybody! So now I’ve done it I’m going to take the responsibility that comes with it and give 100% to being the best poker ambassador I can. We’ll see how it goes.

Did the final go according to plan?

Well, I wasn’t too happy at the start of the final when I ran A-K into Candio’s A-A and then lost the big coinflip against Racener. I just tried to keep my calm and composure as much as I could and bounce back from that.

Did anyone surprise you?

Candio surprised me a little bit. John Dolan didn’t play as loose as he had been, but then he had me on his left so that’s unsurprising.

Did you ever feel that the situation was hopeless?

Well, no, I was shortstacked for only a few hands and even then I still had 25BBs to play with, which I’m quite comfortable with. I wasn’t especially happy at that point, but I was thinking about what I had to do in the next hand and stuff like that. It happens, in poker. You can’t win ’em all and I just tried to bounce back.

Tell us about the A-9 hand, versus Mizrachi’s 3-3?

I was thinking a little bit about A-K, but not too much. Given the fact that it was blind versus blind, I was raising a lot of my small blinds. A-9 felt like the top of my range and in my mind Mizrachi didn’t have A-A or K-K because of his big over-shove.

So you thought you were maybe 50-50, but likely ahead?

Well... er… sometimes I think he’s ahead. But it was very close. I just felt that, with all the money in the middle, blind versus blind, I had to gamble.

What about the legendary Q-Q versus A-7 hand?

That was interesting because Racener was short-stacked and we were both folding to each other’s 3-bets but Cheong had 4-bet me a couple of times. I decided it was time to 5-bet light and wound up with Q-Q, so I 5-bet small to give him some room to shove on me and decide I was bluffing. So far I had folded to his 4-bets a lot.

Did you think about folding?

No. For me, queens were the nuts. We were three-handed and he was being very aggressive. The chances that he had A-A or K-K were there of course, but the chances that queens were the best hand were, like, really there. I remember thinking that I couldn’t 5-bet fold a big pair.

It was interesting that you and Cheong tangled so much...

It would have taken John [Racener] a long time to grind up or bust out so Cheong and I just ended up playing very aggressively, knowing we were potentially playing for the tournament. We were gambling a little bit but hoping to win the tournament.

Did Racener confuse you heads-up?

I was expecting him to play small ball, because at the final table he hadn’t wanted to gamble too much, so it took me by surprise, yes. I also tried to make sure I mixed it up; sometimes I was raising and sometimes limping my button. He played great but I was the lucky one to win it.

He doubled up at one point. Did that worry you?

The hand was quite standard because he only had 10 or 11 big blinds. After that I just tried to grind him back down with lots of small pots, small pots, small pots.

Which player did you fear the most?

Joseph Cheong played really well and deserves a ton of credit; Grinder obviously, Racener was very good – tough final table.

Any financial plans? You could probably, like, be a Bond villain now if you wanted…

None, besides $100,000 towards the Canadian Montreal Child Foundation.

What goes through your mind when that winning river card is dealt?

Oh, it’s like, oh my God! I don’t remember exactly, it was just so crazy, like everybody running to me and screaming and I was with everybody and – I don’t know… kind of like the greatest feeling ever.