Why are the Quebecois such good card players? Montreal native Jonathan Duhamel is not only the chip leader heading into this weekend’s World Series of Poker final table, he was one of five residents of la belle provence to finish in the top 100 at this year’s event (ranking second only behind Nevada, on a per capita basis). One of these five, Pascal Lefrançois, took home a shiny gold bracelet, as did a sixth player, Miguel Proulx.
So what’s their secret to success? Sharp elbows from spending much of their formative years running players into the boards at hockey rinks? Or is the fix in, what with the WSOP’s parent company Harrah’s International having a CEO (Mitch Garber) who’s also from Montreal? Lefrançois believes bilingual players have a distinct advantage in that they can glean info from English-language online forums, but exchange thoughts on strategy among themselves in French-language forums, safe from unilingual eyes. (Obviously, Lefrançois has yet to visit Google Translate.)
But John Dolan, the November Niner sitting in the #2 spot on the chip leader board, scoffs at such assumptions. Who needs superior language skills when you’ve got Evil on your side? EvilCPA, to be precise. That’s the online moniker of Ann-Margaret Johnston, Dolan’s accountant, a specialist in managing the financial affairs of online poker players. What gives the lady her edge in this field is that she’s no stranger to the felts, regularly playing online and recently taking third place at the Ladies Event at the PokerStars Carribbean Adventure.
Combining poker knowledge with 15 years experience running her own accounting practice allows Johnston to effectively deal with poker players facing a sudden influx of ready cash. Let’s face it – the guys taking home big poker prizes seem to get younger every day, so it’s not like they have a whole lot of experience with the intricacies of tax law. As Johnston put it, these young millionaires “get irritated that they have to pay all these taxes. Yeah, well, welcome to the real world.”
Johnston’s first big name client was 2003 WSOP winner Chris Moneymaker, and her roster has since expanded to a couple hundred poker clients, of which Dolan is her latest. If Dolan’s modest lifestyle is any indication – doesn’t own a home, drives an eight-year-old Infiniti, crashes at friends’ places while playing out of town – Johnston is more than an accountant, she’s a steadying influence. And that’s a good thing. After all, not every poker winner of today will end up like Doyle Brunson, i.e. old AND lecherous, er, wealthy.