The Top 2010 Poker Player Stories – #9 Jonathan Duhamel
Here’s the deal, if you win the World Series of Poker Main Event, you’re going to be one of the top stories of the year. Years from now, when people begin to recount the championships that players have taken home, people will remember them by who won the Main Event that year. It’s the tournament that matters most among poker tournaments, and it’s the one that gets the most attention every year. As such, Jonathan Duhamel gets added to the list as one of the top stories of 2010.
Duhamel came out on top of the second largest main event field in the history of the event. 7,319 players put up $10,000 to play for the title, and he was the only one that avoided elimination long enough to be called champion. From the hands that I saw him play at the Main Event this year, he wasn’t the most deserving player. But often times in tournaments, the most deserving player doesn’t win. That’s the luck factor. Duhamel made several questionable calls that led to several giant pots being shipped his direction as things just worked out for him time and time again.
He won’t be on my number 1 story though. The big reason….I just don’t have that much to say about the guy other than he won it. I mean, prior to the WSOP Main Event, his biggest cash was a 10th place finish in the EPT Prague $5k event for $54k back in 2008. He registered no scores in 2009, and nothing until he cashed twice in this year’s WSOP (a 50th place finish in a $1,500 No Limit Hold’em event, and 15th place finish in a $2,500 event). His scores prior to the EPT event, well, there were only 3. Two 9th place finishes and a 47th in events that had a maximum buy in of $500. Not exactly superstar material. So it came as little surprise that along with everyone else, I didn’t pay much attention to the Canadian online poker pro player prior to the 8th day of the main event. I remember seeing several hands with Duhamel that day that just made me think, “Wow. That was lucky.” And as I re-watched the broadcast on ESPN, it really reinforced the luck factor that you need in order to win tournaments. But I will say this, once Duhamel got the chips after that weird call with JJ against Matt Affleck’s pocket Aces, he played the way that he should have played.
When play got down to 10 players remaining, Duhamel was one of the few players that wasn’t nervous about the November 9 bubble. He began that bubble as the chip leader with 49 million chips, more than 10 million chips more than Joe Cheong who was in second. But it was Duhamel that was easily the most aggressive player at the table at that point, and as a result he saw his stack bloom. The other 9 players saw the opportunity to tighten their play and just hang onto their chips in the hopes of squeezing through to November, while Duhamel just raised more pots. When Brandon Steven was eliminated in 10th place, Duhamel’s stack was 16 million chips taller. To put that into perspective, the upswing was worth about the same amount as the chip stacks of Matt Jarvis (who entered into the final table 4th in chips with 16.7 million) and Fillipo Candio (who had 16.4 million). It was also about as much as the combined total of Soi Nguyen and Jason Senti. The bottom line was, with his play at that 10-handed final table, Duhamel put himself in a position to win it.
At the final table, I would argue that Duhamel wasn’t the best player either. I think the call for his tournament life with A-9 vs. Mizrachi’s 3-3 shove was foolish. But he won the flip, and in so doing righted the ship. Once that happened, he played good poker, and cruised to a win.
Like him or not, Jonathan Duhamel is a poker world champion, and as the main event winner of the World Series of Poker in 2010, he’s one of the top stories of 2010.