WSOP November Nine: Duhamel loses his four-month chip lead
The ruckus rose up from the padded seats of the Penn and Teller Theater. At first it could be mistaken for a chant of "U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!", but the French-Canadian accent gave it away.
"Duh-ha-mel! Du-ha-mel! Du-hamel!"
It was chip-leader Jonathan Duhamel's rail singing the call of a crowd that's coming awake. It came earlier in the day when their man was still chip leader. It was a sweet sound, one that must now be a bittersweet echo in the Canadian's ear.
Oh, it's probably not so much that Duhamel expected to be the wire-to-wire chip leader. No one could reasonably expect something so grand. But after that ace-king versus Fillipo Candio's aces, Duhamel ran into a game-changing pot with Joseph Cheong.
Duhamel had three-bet an open-raise from Cheong and they saw a flop of 4♣A♦T♠. Cheong check-called a bet worth more than 3 million from Duhamel. On the 6♣ turn, both players checked. Then came the J♦ river. Now Cheong led out for more than 8 million. Duhamel made the call to see Cheong's 4♦6♦.
It was a hard blow to take. Suddenly, Duhamel, who had been chip leader for four months, was in third place out of the seven remaining.
Jonathan Duhamel looks like a a meerkat peering out from his den. His face is thin, angular, and covered in stubble. It's mostly hidden by his black, Grim Reaper-esque PokerStars hoodie. My co-writer Howard Swains described Duhamel as looking like a Star Wars-esque emperor. From my angle, he's less imposing, but just as dangerous. Meerkats may be small, but they will mess you up fast if you aren't paying close attention.
To start the day, Duhamel stacked on chair on top another to put him on level with the rest of the players. There was no way to stack a chair under his chips when he was running into aces or an oddly-turned two pair.
Within a few minutes, Duhamel was again peering out from the darkness of his hoodie, his eyes set on Cheong, the man who had taken his chip lead, the man on whom he wanted to unleash some meerkat justice.
When Cheong came in for a standard raise, Duhamel three-bet him to more than 4 million. Cheong wasn't going away and made the call. On a A♠J♠J♦ flop, both Cheong and Duhamel checked. The turned K♠ drew a bet worth seven million from Duhamel. This time, Cheong could not keep up. Score one for the meertkats and the crowd of fans with their "Duh-ha-mel! Du-ha-mel! Du-hamel!" cheer.
Here's a bit of our pre-play interview with Duhamel.