Poker champ to kids: Don’t follow me

Canada’s world poker champion has a clear message for people who might be dreaming of emulating his lucrative rise to the top of the card world — forget it.

Jonathan Duhamel poses for photos after winning the World Series of Poker

Jonathan Duhamel poses for photos after winning the World Series of Poker

MONTREAL — Canada’s world poker champion has a clear message for people who might be dreaming of emulating his lucrative rise to the top of the card world — forget it.

Jonathan Duhamel’s $8.94-million bonanza for winning the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas this week may stir the imagination of many a youngster hoping to land similar fortunes in the increasingly popular game.

But the 23-year-old from Boucherville, Que., believes poker should be all about fun — not money.

“I don’t want to glorify anything with that win,” Duhamel told a news conference in Montreal on Thursday. “I’m just one lucky guy who got far in that tournament.

“I don’t recommend anybody should quit school or stuff like that. I’m kind of an exception out there . . . I don’t recommend anybody playing high stakes or stuff like that.”

Duhamel, who beat a field of 7,300 competitors, dropped out of the finance program at the Universite du Quebec a Montreal a few years ago and decided to gamble on the unconventional career path.

He ended up playing as much as 40 hours a week to hone his game.

But Duhamel is quick to admit that Lady Luck was smiling on him in Las Vegas.

“I played well but I was super lucky as well. That I know.”

As well as hitting pay dirt with the victory, Duhamel left Nevada with a world-championship bracelet he says he “could look at for hours and hours.”

“This means you’re the world champion. It’s amazing. The bracelet is more important than the money.”

Duhamel said he doesn’t know what he’ll do with his new riches. But he reiterated his desire to give $100,000 to the Montreal Canadiens’ children’s foundation.

“I’ll be careful with the money. I’m not the kind of guy who’ll spend it all over the place. I’ll take a bit of money to play but I won’t go crazy. I’m a pretty quiet guy.”

As for the future, Duhamel’s goals are to perform consistently in every tournament and to defend his crown next year.

Only three people have ever repeated as champion and nobody has achieved the feat since Johnny Chan successfully defended his title in 1988.

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