Jonathan Duhamel is the man to beat in this year’s November Nine. He enters the final table as the chip leader with 65,965,000, almost 20 million more than his next closest competitor. The odds-on favorite, Duhamel is no stranger to poker. Born in Boucherville, Quebec, the 22-year old Canadian native began taking the game seriously when he was only sixteen. “I started playing with the older brother of one of my friends and a few other friends, just like almost everyone,” Duhamel said. “I loved it from the start and I immediately realized that in this game, there were good players and very bad players too. The difference was evident.”
Duhamel attended college in pursuit of a finance career, but his plans soon changed. He discovered that he was making so much money playing online poker that he needed to take it more seriously. Against the advice of his family and friends, Duhamel took the plunge and pursued poker full time. Obviously that decision will pay off exponentially as he stands to make millions just for making the November Nine. However, Duhamel was doing well even before this year’s Main Event. Aside from his online winnings, Duhamel placed 10th in the 2008 PokerStars.com European Poker Tour Prague Main Event for $53,928 and took 15th for $37,276 in Event #56 $2,500 No Limit Hold’em just before the Main Event.
“I knew I could beat everyone . . . that I could play with them,” Duhamel said. “But winning that last tournament gave me some confidence, and it put me back in the mood to play and perform.” It is a good thing Duhamel did well in that tournament. If things had turned out differently, he might not be the chip leader in poker’s biggest tournament.
How He Got There
Duhamel entered Day 8 under the radar as just an average stack, but that would soon change. Early on in the day, Duy Le raised to 305,000 and Jonathan Duhamel reraised to 865,000 from the small blind. Robert Pisano made the overcall from the big blind and Le called as well.
The flop came and Duhamel checked to Pisano, who bet 1.65 million chips. Le folded and Duhamel called to see fourth street, which was the . Duhamel led out into the pot with a bet of 1.875 million and Pisano moved all in over the top. Duhamel called all in for 4.46 million and revealed for a turned straight. Pisano was disgusted to see he was drawing dead with his . The meaningless filled out the board and Duhamel more than doubled to 21.6 million.
Duhamel’s biggest moment came later on Day 8 in a hand that’ll likely be talked about for years to come. In the hand, Duhamel raised to 550,000 from the cutoff position and Matt Affleck three-bet to 1.55 million from the button. The blinds folded and Duhamel opted to four-bet to 3,925,000. Affleck made the call and created a pot worth 8 million chips preflop!
Duhamel checked the flop and Affleck fired out 5 million. Duhamel called as the dealer burned and turned the . Once again, Duhamel checked to Affleck, who did the only thing he could do and moved all in for 11.6 million chips. Even though Duhamel had Affleck covered, it was a huge decision. Duhamel went into the tank, peeked at his cards, and puffed his cheeks out in a big sigh. Another minute passed before Duhamel shook his head and called.
The pot was huge, a total of 42 million chips. Affleck stood up in nervous anticipation as the peeled off on the river. Duhamel came from behind to make a straight and take down the monster pot, bringing him to 51 million, while eliminating Affleck in 15th place.
What to Watch For
Duhamel will be seated in Seat 4, which brings with it both good and bad news. The good news is that the other big stack at the table, John Dolan (46,250,000) will be seated to his immediate right. This will give Duhamel the power of position throughout the final table and allow him to push Dolan around. On the flip side, the most established and feared player at the table, Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi, will be seated to Duhamel’s left. Every advantage he will have over Dolan, Mizrachi will have over him. If Mizrachi can grind his short stack up, Duhamel will have to fight an uphill battle.
While Duhamel is known for his aggression, he might have to change gears at the final table. He is confident and readily admits, “My greatest quality, I think, is my calm. I manage to never tilt. What I need the most to improve is to stop playing the sheriff and respect more players, especially the bad players who also have good hands sometimes.”