What it's like to be the WSOP champion

teampro-thumb.JPGIt was suggested to me that I should share what life is like as the world champion of poker. I believe it's a great idea and I am very excited to share my adventures.

Where to start? Winning the WSOP Main Event bracelet in November and all that followed, of course! The madness began as soon as the river ultimately fell. Wow, what a feeling! I do not remember the seconds that followed, but the first thing I remember is being lifted into the air by my friends dressed in Habs jerseys. Then I realized something: I am now the world champion of poker! I will remember this moment for the rest of my days. The rush of adrenaline was completely unbelievable.

Obviously, these moments were quickly followed by all the media surrounding me. There were 20 to 30 journalists all asking me loads of questions. I remember having a lot of trouble finding my words, with everything that was happening; I was just on a cloud and the reality of what had just happened had not yet set in.

Then I was able to celebrate with all my gang in the most beautiful suite of the Rio, offered by the WSOP. It seems that this suite cannot be rented, but is only offered by the hotel for special occasions. It was really a magical place with larger rooms than my first apartment - it even had a private pool and jacuzzi. We were offered a giant buffet and gallons of champagne. It was truly a memorable night, along with my family and friends. I will never forget it.


The magic moment

The next day was a little harder! After only one hour of sleep, a nice lady from PokerStars was knocking at my door with a coffee in one hand and a cellphone in the other. I knew the day that was waiting for me, but the adrenaline of the moment compensated for fatigue. The following days were a flurry of interviews. It obviously started first while still in Vegas where my schedule was managed by others. I then returned to Quebec to hold press conferences for home media and I finally flew to Toronto for the last big sprint. Three full days which were really exhausting but at the same time, slowly helped me to realize what had happened. There is no doubt, when you win the biggest poker tournament in the world, your life changes.

The end of the year was absolutely awesome. I was invited to center field at the Olympic Stadium for the CFL East finals game between the Montreal Alouettes and the Toronto Argonauts. I still get chills when I think back at the 58,000 people who applauded me. Again, what a feeling! It's a chance of a lifetime to have had the opportunity to be in the center of the field during the game. With everything that was happening, the mere fact of being back in Montreal and to enjoy the game was amazing. The support of the crowd hit me right in the heart, and I again thank all who attended.

I was then invited to attend the UFC fight with George St-Pierre on December 11th, with the best possible tickets right at the edge of the ring. Being a fan of UFC for several years, I was euphoric waiting for this moment. George St. Pierre is by far the athlete that I respect the most and he definitely is an inspiration. To see him dominate his sport for years always pushed me to try my hardest at what I do. He is a true gentleman who honours his sport and Canada. Honestly, it does not surprise me that he keeps retaining his belt.

I then participated in the High Stakes Poker show which will be aired soon. I cannot tell you about the results prior to the release (sorry) but I can tell you there was a lot of action. A great experience where once again I had the chance to meet many interesting characters.

I then went back to Quebec for the holidays where I had the chance to spend quality time with my family and my close friends. I was a bartender for a night at Radio Lounge in Montreal to benefit the Ste-Justine Hospital for children Foundation. A great fun night where I partied like crazy, in addition to raising funds for the sick kids of Ste-Justine.

I had about a week and a half off to take a little rest, a matter of booting into force in 2011. I knew the year to come would be very, very busy.

The first stop on the international circuit was in the Bahamas for the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure. I played all the major tournaments there, but I didn't hit a big score. It happens, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. I still had an amazing trip and I was formalized at the same time as a member of Team PokerStars Pro. I became the first Quebecer since Isabelle Mercier to join this prestigious team, representing the largest online poker room in the world.

Back at home, I spent a week with my family in Boucherville, where I finally got to skate a little. Incredible feeling to finally play hockey again. That's definitely what I miss the most with all my travels.

I then headed off to France for EPT Deauville where I did rather well in the €10,000 event. But that's another which I'll tell you about soon.


I'll tell you about Deauville soon

Jonathan Duhamel
@PokerStars in PokerStars news