Two weeks ago, Charles-Andrew Sylvestre was playing at a WSOP final table competing for his first gold bracelet. Few observers noticed a fellow French Canadian sitting in the crowd, cheering his friend to victory. That dedicated supporter was Jason Duval, who celebrated Sylvestre's win as thought it were his own. Little did Duval know then that such a moment of triumph would be relived again a short time later, on the same ESPN stage, with even more prize money as the reward.“I could not imagine winning,” Duval said afterward about watching his pal win a gold bracelet. “Sure, I was hoping I could win one, but not a 2,100-player tournament.”With the vivid memory of Sylvestre and five other Canadian poker players in the elite class of gold bracelet winners at the 2013 WSOP, Duval added yet another definitive chapter to the growing legacy of Canada as a poker tournament superpower. Forget Americans or any of the other hundred or so nations who send players to the WSOP. Canadian players are cornering the market on gold bracelets.
Duval's victory came in the $1,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold'em (Event 28). He collected a whopping $521,202 in prize money, plus his first WSOP title. Up until this moment, Duval's total WSOP earnings has been about $14,000.
There were early signs that 2013 might be a turning point. Not only did six of his fellow countrymen win gold bracelets, but Duval also cashed two times at this series coming into the three-day tourney that ran from Saturday through Monday. When he sat down at the final table, he had to feel a sense of destiny in the making.“I really wanted to win this,” Duval said. “I had come close in (a European Poker Tour) event. So, this time I wanted to win it because I had so many people here cheering for me. I didn't want to let them down.”Duval is a 23-year-old poker pro and college student. He has been playing full time for about two years. Duval is currently attending Laval University in Quebec, where he is majoring in business. He plans to continue his studies and earn his degree.MEET GOLD BRACELET WINNER – JASON DUVAL
Name: Jason Duval
Current Residence: Montreal, Quebec (Canada)
Birthplace: Montreal, Quebec (Canada)
Marital Status: Single
Occupation: Professional Poker Player / College Student (Major-Business)
WSOP Cashes (including this event): 4
First WSOP Cash (year): 2012
WSOP Final Table Appearances: 1
WSOP Wins (with this victory): 1
WSOP Career Earnings: $550,390INTERVIEW WITH THE CHAMPION
WSOP: How does it feel to win your first gold bracelet?
Jason Duval: It feels great to win a big tournament and get a bracelet. It's great for Quebec. I feel really great.
WSOP: Tell us about how things went for you over the course of the tournament.
Duval: I was chip leader after Day 1. Then, when I came back for day 2, everything went wrong. I lost about two-thirds of my chips and was about to bust. But I got some luck and was able to recover and grind some chips back and get a decent stack. That's how I made my way back to the top.
WSOP: Why do you think so many Canadians are winning this year and players from Quebec have been so successful recently?
Duval: I think it's the community we have that sticks together. We have online forums, especially for people in Quebec. We help each other a lot. With that, there is a lot of good poker players. Some were my friends before I started playing poker. I started to play and they helped me a lot. Now, you can see from the rail that – even if they are really good – they are willing to share it with others. We like to share. It's a tight community.
WSOP: You seemed to really enjoy yourself at the final table, unlike others who take a more serious approach. Can you discuss that?
Duval: I am a bit more emotional than most of the other players. When I win a pot, I am really happy. When I lost a pot, I get frustrated. I think that transcends in the way I play. I try to put my emotions aside when I make a big decision, but I enjoy what I'm doing.
WSOP: How do you plan to celebrate?
Duval: My whole crew is like 30 or 40 people. We are probably going to go out and hit some club tonight.
WSOP: What's the over/under on your bar tab tonight?
Duval: $10,000.ODDS AND ENDST.J. Cloutier finished in 13th place. This was the 59th cash of his career, which currently ranks tenth on the all-time WSOP rankings.The seven Canadians to have won gold bracelets so far includes -- Charles-Andrew Sylvestre, Benny Chen, Michael Malm, Levi Berger, Mark Radoja, Calen McNeil, and Jason Duval.