|Canadian poker professional Jonathan Duhamel drinks champagne during a news conference in Montreal, November 11, 2010. (REUTERS/Christinne Muschi)
MONTREAL -- World poker champion Jonathan Duhamel has advice for those who want to follow his path to the poker table: Don’t.
In fact, the 23-year-old poker star with a shy smile is the first to advise against glorifying his recent $8.9-million win.
“I see myself as an exception - this isn’t for everyone,” he said during a news conference in Montreal on Thursday.
“I don’t recommend anyone does this, to leave school and start playing with high stakes.” By now, Duhamel’s story is well known. The hockey-loving kid from Boucherville, Que., dropped out of university, where he was studying for a finance degree, to pursue poker full time. Passionate for the game, he put in hours a week playing and practicing, eventually winning a spot in the World Poker Championship 2010 finals and then this week, the top prize.
Duhamel puts it down mostly to luck.
“Even the best player won’t win without luck,” he maintained.
The new ambassador for a major gambling website 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.” But anti-gambling advocates worry whether Duhamel’s advice will be enough to check the influence of the game’s marketing juggernaut.
It’s what concerns Nina Littman-Sharp, counselling services manager for the Problem Gambling Institute of Ontario.
In an interview from Toronto, Littman-Sharp tells QMI Agency that televised poker tournaments and the glorification of stars such as Duhamel will encourage lesser talents who risk losing big money.
“Our informal impression is that people are pulled in by this kind of thing and start to think this could be me,” she said.
“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.