It was just three years ago that Jonathan Duhamel made history as the first-ever Canadian to win the World Series of Poker Main Event. Since then, it seems like Duhamel and many of his French Canadian friends seem to have the golden touch. Players like Charles-Sylvestre Alexander and Jason Duvall won bracelets this summer, but it is Marc-Etienne McLaughlin who has a shot at repeating Duhamel's 2010 feat.
McLaughlin knows what it takes to make a deep run in the Main Event. He has two top 100 finishes, taking 30th in 2009 and then finishing 86th in 2011. This time around he is at the final table and has a rail full of successful Canadian players to support him. At just 25 years old, McLaughlin is one of the younger players at the table, but his track record in this tournament should hint to you that this a guy with no shortage of experience.
Name: Marc-Etienne McLaughlin
Birthplace: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Hometown/Current place of residence: Brossard, Quebec, Canada
Employer/Company Name: Self-employed
Education: University de Sherbrooke
Marital Status: Girlfriend
Children (names and ages): 0
Years playing poker:
Years entered Main Event: 5
WSOP Earnings: $639,168
WSOP Cashes: 6
WSOP Final Tables: 1
Best Main Event Finish: 30th in the 2009 Main Event
We caught up with McLaughlin shortly after the November Nine was set:
WSOP: It has been quite a year for Canada. How does it feel to be representing your country at the final table?
McLaughlin: It’s incredible. We are pretty good players. It’s the year for Canada, I guess. Let’s hope it ends with another bracelet…I think it is destiny. Hopefully, it’s going to end like it started. Canadians will go at it until the end.
WSOP: How did you get started in poker?
McLaughlin: I started seven years ago with friends. We played on my ping pong table, so it was really shady and I just kept winning. I said to myself, “I might be good. If we all have the same cards and I’m better than my friends let’s give it a shot and see how it goes.”
WSOP: If you go on to win $8.5 million, will you continue to pursue your entrepreneurial ventures?
McLaughlin: Yeah, of course. I see poker money as a way to grow something else. I’m going to keep having businesses. I’d maybe invest some of it the stock market.
WSOP: Prior to making the November Nine, what was the most memorable moment in the Main Event?
McLaughlin: I was confident from the very get-go. I had good results in the past. I just wanted to accumulate chips. Today was a really good day because I won a lot of medium pots. I made some good calls, I made some good plays. There’s not one big hand I was all-in or had to get lucky. It was just winning medium pots all the way.
WSOP: Was there a specific moment when you thought you had a chance to make the November Nine?
McLaughlin: Umm… 10-handed? [laughs]
WSOP: Tell us about your rail.
McLaughlin: Laurence is my girlfriend. There are some friends from Montral. Most of our buddies from Montreal left already, but I’m sure there will be a lot there to cheer for me in November. I’m confident in it.
WSOP: We’re running a WSOP Circuit in Montreal this year. Will you play in it?
McLaughlin: I’ll be there.
WSOP: What does a $350 buy-in tournament mean to you now?
McLaughlin: Even when I play for two dollars, I want to win. When I play poker, I just want to win. I’ll probably play a $1,000 event and I’ll really want to win. That’s how I am.
WSOP: So just making the November Nine isn’t good enough?
McLaughlin: Yeah, exactly.
WSOP: What are you going to do to celebrate for the next four months?
McLaughlin: Back in Montreal we have an Irish pub and I think it’s going to be a hell of a party there. [laughs] Guinness will be flowing.
WSOP: Do you have any plans to practice or prepare for the November Nine?
McLaughlin: That’s a good question. I have no idea. First I’m going to have some vacation, for sure. Then I think I’m going to talk to my buddy Jonathan Duhamel. He has some experience winning the Main Event. We’ll have some conversations.
WSOP: Talk more about your relationship with Duhamel.
McLaughlin: I’ve known him since before he won [the Main Event}. So maybe like, five or six years. We travel together. We stay at the same home most every year. Not this year, but most every other year. We talk.
WSOP: Who is the better poker player?
McLaughlin: I can’t say that. We’re both good.
WSOP: What was a day in the life of Marc Etienne-McLaughlin like prior to tonight?
McLaughlin: I like sports, so I guess I’d wake up, go online, and see how my businesses were doing. I open charts to see stock and then I go to the gym and do cross-fit. Every day is different. I play some poker. I play online.
WSOP: How many years have you played the Main Event?
McLaughlin: This is my fifth year.
WSOP: What did you take away from your prior experiences?
McLaughlin: I guess picking [better] spots. In 2009 I finished 30th, in 2011 I finished 86th and now hopefully I’ll be here until the end. I learned to be more patient in some spots. My very first year I finished 30th, but I was really young and super aggressive. Now I balance everything and I’m a more well-rounded poker player.
WSOP: Having come close – 30th, 80th – and now…
McLaughlin: I really want it. It’s really, really a relief. When you come that close and you can’t make it, you’re really disappointed. You’re happy with the money, but disappointed you couldn’t get further. Now I don’t know what to say. It’s like three months of partying and vacation and I’m super happy right now.
WSOP: Will you hire any coaches, do any studying or review any film during the next four months?
McLaughlin: I have some good friends who are really good, like better than me, and they know how to play 10-20 big blinds better than me. I think I’ll ask them some questions in some sports. Aside from that, I’m pretty confident.