Duhamel, Affleck Dissect the WSOP Main Event Hand That Changed Their Lives
Matt Affleck and Jonathan Duhamel shared the kind of World Series of Poker moment that has been and will be talked about for years. An incredible all-in hand that would create one massive chip leader late in the WSOP Main Event, while the player was eliminated from the tournament. If you're not familiar with this hand (or even if you are), you can watch it below, followed by the two players involved talking us through their memories of it seven years later.
It's not for the faint of heart.
Jonathan Duhamel: I think it was the first time I played with him. I didn't know much about his playing style or if he was aggressive or not. All I knew was that he was on my left and he had a lot of chips. I expected some fireworks from him. I was playing pretty aggressively and I thought he would do the same, too.
Matt Affleck: We didn't play at all before the final two tables. Maybe that was 90 minutes to two hours. We really didn't have any experience of playing each other and I had direct position on him. We hadn't played any significant pots together and had no history.
Preflop starting hands:
"Back to Duhamel and he says re-raise himself to just over 3.9 million!"
Affleck: Jonathan opened the cut-off I three-bet the button.
Duhamel: I expected him to do that with a lot of hands, so I decided to four-bet, which I probably wouldn't do today. I've thought about that hand a million times since, and I should have just called the three-bet with jacks and not four-bet out of position against a good player with a big player. I was just a kid back then so I thought 'Fire, fire, fire.' Back then I thought it was a good move. I thought he would fold most of the time and I'd pick up the pot.
Affleck: We started the hand about 100 big blinds deep, so if I five-bet jammed, I didn't expect him to call off with a lot of hands. He might even find a fold with jacks or queens. In a high-pressure situation, people don't tend to call off very light. I decided that if I just called to keep his range wide and keep his bluffs in as well as hands like tens, jacks or queens, it would be a pretty easy hand to play post-flop.
Duhamel: He ended up calling, which I thought was pretty weird. He could have been trying to make a move, but he could have had a pretty big hand. We hadn't played hands together, so it was tough to judge.
Affleck: I remember thinking a long time pre-flop on whether to jam or call. I wanted to make it look like I had the right price to peel the four-bet, to make my hand look a little bit weaker.
"Matt's buddies looking a little nervous on the sidelines."
Duhamel: When he called the four-bet I was worried. It was a really good flop, one of the best I could get, but I didn't want to bet and see him raise me. Given the fact that I was worried he called the four-bet, I checked to see what would happen.
Affleck: He never has nines or sevens there. The only hands I was worried about was tens. He could have had J-8 suited or 8-6 suited, but it's a better flop for me having called his four-bet that it was for him having made the four-bet. I bet 5 million, around half-pot, leaving me around 12 million back and a really easy turn shove.
Duhamel: I had no folding range there. I'm never going to fold jacks there. I called to see a turn pretty much hoping that he would shut down. But knowing if he was bluffing he might keep doing it.
Affleck: He check-called, so I thought he could have a lot of hands like jacks, queens or kings. He could still have a decent amount of hands on the flop. It's a little bit harder to get tells when you're sat right next to the person. Any tell post-flop is not going to change my decision there anyway. I use tells in 50/50 spots, but in that spot, I was going with my hand no matter what.
"Duhamel now with an up-and-down straight draw."
Affleck: The queen is not a good card. He could have had queens at that point. But basically, I had no option other than to shove and pray I didn't get snap called. Once I didn't, I knew I had the best hand.
Duhamel: It was pretty crazy. I was 22 years old at the time and had never seen any TV cameras in my life. It was the first time I'd been put to the test like that. I didn't know what to think or do. My head was a mess at that point. The queen doesn't look that good because it's an overcard to my jacks but it was a good card. He almost certainly doesn't have any queen in his range, so he either had me on the flop or pre-flop, or he's just bluffing the whole way. If I'm behind, the queen there gives me eight more outs for the open-ended straight. If I'm behind, I just went from having two outs to ten outs, which is a very big improvement. At that point, his all-in compared to the pot-size wasn't that big, but all his chips were going in and I had no clue what to do.
Affleck: It was at least six or seven minutes, maybe upwards of ten minutes on the turn. All I could do was wait.
Duhamel: I just felt like to go with my original read and that he would play back at me quite a lot was right. I didn't know if he'd put his whole stack in on a bluff. I didn't know him that well, but there was a chance. Even if there was a 10% chance he'd do it, I had to call with the pot odds and the ten outs if I'm behind. Also, if I lost that hand, I'd still have 35 big blinds or so. It wouldn't be ideal, but I wouldn't be out. I wanted to find a fold. I didn't want to call, but I felt like I had to.
At the moment the cards were turned over, Affleck asked Duhamel "You've got kings, right?" It was a question born not out of expectation but hope. The reality was a lot more worrying.
Affleck: When he flipped over jacks, it was pretty much the worst hand I could see other than maybe queen-jack. Obviously, I now had to sweat ten outs. I was hoping it was kings, a hand that made a lot of sense and I'd have had fewer outs to sweat.
Duhamel: In my head, I was thinking 'Holy shit, what did I just do?' When I threw the cards down, I was mad at having put myself in that situation. I was pretty unhappy with myself but I had ten outs. As soon as the cards were turned over, my mind switched to thinking 'OK, I'm behind I need to catch. If I don't, I'll still have 33-35 big blinds to play with.
Affleck: At that point, the emotion of knowing we were first and second in the tournament at that moment hit me, thinking about all the chips I could have. And it wasn't even the final table bubble, so whoever would win the pot was going to be able to build a lot more chips. ESPN cameras were set up after he called. It was maybe 90 seconds before they burned and turned the river.
"In my head, I was thinking 'Holy shit, what did I just do?'"
Of the two men, only Duhamel knew that he would be playing the next hand. While the crowd edged forward, each spectator and inch closer to the table around the Rio cardroom, Affleck stood up, put his hand on his baseball cap…and prayed.
"Matt Affleck is going to have 41 million chips… or no chips. He needs to dodge a king, jack or eight."
Affleck: I was numb, especially for the first thirty seconds to a minute. When you're all-in and there's a long pause on the dealer, you're just expecting to win the pot as such a huge favorite. It was such a huge moment. I was thinking ahead back then at what I could do with all those 41 million chips. I didn't even think about busting out.
Duhamel: In his position, I would lose my mind too. There's no way you can take that well. He'd made the top 80 the year before in the Main Event, so for him to go out so deep twice in a row? It was the worst bad beat I've ever given. I just tried to keep my composure when the card hit out of respect for him. The whole room was in shock; the cameramen, the director, everyone. There was a collective gasp. It was like the world stopped turning.
"He's got to be heartbroken!"
Affleck didn't know where to look, where to stand or even if he was able to. Legs like jelly, red-faced and crushed beyond words, it took him a minute or two to leave. When he did, Affleck blasted out of the Amazon Room in his 'Griffey 24' Seattle Mariners shirt, hurling his water bottle to the ground and walking disconsolately to the nearest wall where he rested his head and wept, robbed of the chip lead in the WSOP Main Event by one river card.
Duhamel: It was a weird moment, and on the table I had a friend, Pascal Lefrancois. He eventually got knocked out in 11th place but at the time I knew he was looking me with a big smile on his face. I was just thinking 'Don't look at him, don't look at him', because I knew if I did, I'd laugh. I was really happy, I'd got lucky and had all the chips in the world. I looked down at the felt for three or four minutes, but when I looked up, hoping that Pascal wouldn't be looking at me anymore, there he was with that big smile.
That should have been the end of the drama, the card room coming to terms with the drama like the players. The dust began to settle. But it wasn't over. Matt Affleck, distraught and defeated, somehow found the heart to walk back into the Amazon Room at the Rio.
Affleck: There were a lot of people that I'd played a lot of poker with at the table. Adam Levy, Joseph Cheong and I had battled online for years. John Dolan, who I met for the first time in that tournament but we'd played a lot there that year, was still there. There were guys who I'd played with all day, so I wanted to wish them good luck and accept their condolences.
Duhamel: Huge props. If I was him, I would just have run to the airport! I had huge respect for him to come back and shake everybody's hand. He's a super nice guy and I wished him all the best. He showed a lot of class coming back.
"Matt Affleck's Main Event dream is shattered. All his chips go to Duhamel who now has over 50 million."
Duhamel: When there was ten of us left, everybody wanted to make the final table. Some guy folded queens face up. I had to play like a maniac. In the break, I chugged two energy drinks and a bunch of chocolate bars. I was raising every hand. I went from 30 million to 65 million chips during those 3 hours. I doubled my stack playing 100% of the hands playing the November Nine bubble. Once we reached the final nine, I lost 30 million chips losing every hand I played. That buffer that I gave myself helped me and I found some hands. There was a huge hand against Joseph [Cheong] and I was heads-up with a 6:1 or 7:1 lead. John Racener got there very quietly, letting everyone else get knocked out. Even though he finished second, he won a lot more than he was supposed to that day.
Heads-up was not an epic battle. Duhamel's massive chip-lead coupled with the momentum and a vast supporting crowd from home gave the first Canadian to win the WSOP Main Event all the power. He would not let his fans down.
Duhamel: I was winning all the hands early on. He was playing pretty tight heads-up and I would play all the hands and grinding him down. The support I had everyone back home was amazing, was the best thing I never saw. 200 people flew from cities around Quebec to see me and it meant the world. Every time I won a hand, I had 200 people cheering for me. It makes you want to win and make no mistakes. In a way, winning is a way to say thank you for them coming to Vegas. All my family were there and the players I respected most. It was the best moment of my life.
For Affleck, the Main Event of 2010 could have seen him fall apart. Many people feared that would happen; it was a hand that could have ended a poker career. As it happened, Affleck used the moment as a platform to change his life for the better.
Affleck: That Main Event was the year after I graduated college, and after living in a fraternity for four years, it was pretty easy to put on some weight. I was my peak [weight] and got up to 265 at one point. I got down to 202, so lost 63 pounds. It became more of a lifestyle change than a diet. Slow and steady, I carried that forward. I go through spurts where I work out really hard. During the summer here in Vegas I try to work out but playing every day, energy is better conserved. It was a lifestyle change in terms of eating healthily and working out.
While Affleck's journey turned into one of personal growth, the new WSOP Main Event champion's feet hardly touched the ground. He was in the clouds.
Duhamel: I felt so grateful to be in that position to be able to represent a poker company, flying around the world to play poker tournaments. I never felt obliged to but I had to do it for myself, to prove I belong there. What more could I want? I was 22 years old, it was a dream come true. Life was amazing. In 2015 I had an unbelievable year. I won two more bracelets and my girlfriend fell pregnant. I felt like we'd 'done it'. Life has changed so much for me in the last year and a half. I have a daughter now and a little boy coming. I feel lucky.
Affleck: I started coaching back in September and it was the first time I'd done anything in that area. I had a pretty good response to it and I've coached now for eight months. I really, really enjoy it. It's nice to see the progress in my students and I learn a lot too from discussing strategies. My coaching is on pause during the summer because of playing so much, but I'm looking forward to getting back to it after the summer. I'm going to put a lot of work into becoming the best I can be.
Affleck's summer here at the World Series has been more extensive than Duhamel's, but both men plan to play the Main Event yet again.
Affleck: This summer has been amazing so far; I finished 8th in The Colossus and 30th in the Millionaire Maker, as well as coming 16th in the $5,000 event just last week. Right now I'm playing some of the best poker of my career. I handle the WSOP really professionally. I'm very focused and don't go out partying a lot. It's poker for two months straight and I'm really excited and focused for the Main Event, preparing my off days beforehand to make sure that I have the right rest and put in all the right preparation. It only happens once a year.
Duhamel and Affleck shook hands back in 2010, but how much of each other have they seen since that fateful day?
Affleck: He hasn't been playing as much poker. We've played maybe once together since then.
Duhamel: The first couple of months it was tougher for him, which was understandable, but after that it was fine. We've seen each other a few times and he's such a nice guy.
Affleck: We've talked. I remember talking to him once and he said he would have called pre-flop if I jammed. We're not close friends, but there's no animosity. I've seen him in the hallway around the Rio. We're friendly, I'll say hello.
Matt Affleck and Jonathan Duhamel will always be connected by the hand that to date has defined the latter's career and remains the biggest moment of drama in Affleck's highlight reel. For the rest of their lives, fellow players, fans and the media will ask them what that hand felt like to be a part of and they'll relive it again and again. But that's OK. They've been doing that for years anyway.