Canadian poker players are absolutely crushing the 2013 World Series of Poker with a record 10 gold bracelets so far -- more than any non-US country in the history of the WSOP.
Historically the United States is the dominant force at the WSOP, having won 877 of the 1,075 gold bracelets ever awarded.
2013 is no different; the Americans are still dominating. But this year Canada is out-performing every other country and has set a new standard for countries competing against the United States.
"I think on a per-capita basis, Canadian players have always done well,” Toronto poker pro Mike Watson told PokerListings.com.
“Obviously winning this many bracelets this year has been a bit of a fluke but I think if you look at the numbers you'd find that Canadian players are out-performing other countries."
Watson, a WPT champion who has won more than $6.6 million playing live poker tournaments, knows a thing or two about flukes. Before this summer he hadn't cashed in over 50 consecutive WSOP events spanning 2011 and 2012.
Daniel Negreanu has five WSOP bracelets and is Canada's leading all-time money winner.
Sylvestre Kicked Off Rush in Event #3
Canada scored its first win of WSOP 2013 early when French-Canadian real estate investor Charles Sylvestre won almost half a million dollars in the summer's first $1,000 No-Limit event.
It continued when PEI restaurant owner Benny Chen won the WSOP's first-ever Millionaire Maker, turning $1,500 into $1.2 million.
Since then it hasn't stopped with Canadians racking up a total of 10 wins. It's the first time a country that isn't the US has posted a double-digit score in a single summer.
The hot streak comes on the heels of Daniel Negreanu's victory at the first-ever WSOP Asia Pacific Main Event in Melbourne in April.
“I think that temperatures in the Rio have been so unbearably cold that Canadians are more likely to be acclimated to these conditions,” joked Negreanu.
Frigid playing conditions aside, it's hard to account specifically for Canada's success.
Exploding Popularity and Tax Laws May Explain Canadian Success
According to Montreal's Jonathan Duhamel, the cold might actually have something to do with it.
Duhamel was the first and only Canadian to win the WSOP Main Event. Three years ago he overcame 7,318 players to win almost $9 million at the Rio in Las Vegas.
Having cut his teeth in Montreal's exploding poker scene, Duhamel is indicative of talented young poker pros popping up in communities across Canada.
“During the winter there’s not much to do in Canada so we play hockey or poker,” laughed Duhamel. “That’s pretty much all we do.”
Jon Duhamel was the first and only Canadian world champion of poker.
Two French-Canadians have won bracelets this summer and, like a joke making fun of Canada's small-town reputation, Duhamel is good friends with both of them.
“It’s a good trend and I’m pretty sure it’s going to continue for the next few years,” said Duhamel. “We’re going to see a lot more Canadians making big scores.”
Success Runs Coast-to-Coast
Poker is already established on Canada's West Coast but the game's been gaining serious ground across the East over the last few years.
Recent World Poker Tour stops in Montreal have attracted huge fields and French-Canadians continue to post big results all over the world.
But one surprising aspect of Canada's surging success at the WSOP is the tax treaty between Canada and the US.
Canadian players who win money in the US have roughly 30 per cent of their winnings withheld by the IRS. That money can be recovered, provided you can prove enough gambling losses, but for amateur players who only make one or two trips per year to Vegas, that's often not an option.
Daniel Negreanu hypothesizes that the tax treaty could mean that only the best and most successful Canadian players are traveling to the WSOP, which could help account for the strong per-capita performance.
“Of course Canadians are good,” said Negreanu. “But they also have to deal with the tax issue too so you generally only get the best of the best at the WSOP.”
Canadian Bracelet Winners at the 2013 World Series of Poker
|Charles Sylvestre||St. Bruno, Quebec||$1,000 No-Limit Hold'em Re-Entry||$491,360|
|Benny Chen||Stratford, PEI||$1,500 Millionaire Maker No-Limit Hold'em||$1,199,104|
|Michael Malm||Mississauga, Ont.||$2,500 Eight-Game Mix||$255,104|
|Levi Berger||Ottawa, Ont.||$2,500 No-Limit Hold'em Six-Max||$473,019|
|Mark Radoja||Guelph, Ont.||$10,000 Heads-Up No-Limit Hold'em||$336,190|
|Calen McNeil||Victoria, BC||$1,500 Omaha Hi-Lo Split 8-or-Better||$277,274|
|Jason Duval||St-Georges Est, Quebec||$1,500 No-Limit Hold'em||$521,202|
|Justin Oliver||Toronto, Ont.||$2,500 No-Limit Hold'em Four-Handed||$309,071|
|Daniel Idema||Vancouver, BC||$1,500 7-Card Stud Split 8-or-Better||$184,590|
|Kristen Bicknell||Nepean, Ont.||$1,000 Ladies No-Limit Hold'em||$173,922|
With files from Arthur Crowson.