For several ecstatic minutes, the Rio casino in Las Vegas resembled the Red section at Montreal's Bell Centre as Quebecer Jonathan Duhamel was mobbed by dozens of fans in Canadiens jerseys following his historic poker victory.
The 23-year-old became the first Canadian in history to win the World Series of Poker, claiming $8.9 million in prize money Tuesday morning, after finishing off American John Racener.
The native of Boucherville, Que., raised both of his fists in victory and let out a scream when he sealed the win. About 50 family and friends, all sporting Habs colours, poured onto the stage at the casino’s theatre, lifting Duhamel into the air while the audience of 2,000 poker fans cheered them on.
“WON THE BRACELET!!! Great match with Racener, amazing opponent! Thanks to all in Canada & around the world for all the support!” the Boucherville native posted on his Twitter account after the win.
He later told sports channel ESPN: “This is the happiest day of my life. Join me to celebrate.”
Racener leaves Vegas with $5,545,955. He was behind from the start, as Duhamel had six times more chips to begin the final showdown.
Duhamel’s final haul is $8,944,310 but it will be much smaller once U.S., Canadian and Quebec tax authorities get their cut.
He’s expected to take home about $4.6 million after taxes.
Duhamel is the sixth non-American to win poker’s top honour, but he was not the only Canadian to cash in this year. Matthew Jarvis of Surrey, B.C., finished eighth and took home $1,045,743. Forty-eight other Canadians also earned money in the tournament.