A 23-year-old college dropout from Quebec became the first Canadian champion of the World Series of Poker, taking home 8.9 million dollars.
Jonathan Duhamel of Montreal beat out Florida native John Racener, 24, after 90 minutes of play on the last day, emitting primal screams as he gripped mounds of cash he won in poker’s richest and most prestigious crown.
He entered Monday night’s play with a commanding six-to-one chip advantage in the No-Limit Texas Hold ‘Em tournament, and Racener never recovered.
The duo were the final two remaining in an event that began in July with 7,319 entrants, who put up 10,000 dollars each or won entry in smaller tournaments.
The final nine contenders played a 14-hour session that ended early Sunday with Duhamel with a huge lead.
Duhamel’s parents and closest friends sat on the stage at Penn & Teller Theater at the Rio Las Vegas resort, and dozens of Canadian fans filled the audience clad in Montreal Canadians jerseys to show support.
In recent years, the World Series of Poker championships have increasingly gone to non-Americans. In 2005, Australian Joe Hachem won, followed in 2008 by Peter Eastgate of Denmark. Jerry Yang, who escaped Laos as a boy when Communists took over, won in 2007.
Both Duhamel and Racener began their poker lives online. Racener won 5.5 million dollars for placing second.