Poker might be an American game, but the best poker players come from all over the world. In fact, when it comes to money winners, Canada has the second most poker players in the top 100 all-time money leaders. And with the 47th World Series of Poker (WSOP) running from May 31 to July 18, 2016 at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, even more Canadian poker players could be added to the list.1
All dollar amounts are in U.S. dollars unless otherwise noted.
Canada’s Top 5 Poker Players
With more than $32.0 million in earnings, Daniel Negreanu is the poker player with the most wins in the world. Originally from Toronto, Negreanu discovered poker while in his teens and moved to Las Vegas when he was just 22 to try his hand at professional poker.
It didn’t take long for Negreanu to make his mark. In 1998, at the age of 23, he became the youngest player to win a WSOP bracelet. Since then, he has gone on to win six WSOP bracelets and two World Poker Tour championships.
Daniel captured Player of the Year titles in 2004 and 2013 and was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in 2014.2
Jonathan is ranked second on Canada’s All-Time Money List and 10th on the Global All-Time Money List. From Boucherville, Quebec, Duhamel has won more than $17.5 million and is best known for winning the Main Event at the 2008 WSOP and earning over $8.94 million.
In 2015, he placed in nine WSOP tournaments, while in November, he finished first at the 2015 WSOP Europe playing high roller no-limit Hold’em, where he won his third career bracelet and pocketed $628,915.
Back in June, at the 2015 World Series of Poker, Duhamel earned $3.98 million by besting the ONE DROP High Roller with an $111,111 buy-in.3
A resident of Waterloo, Ontario, Mike McDonald has earned approximately $13.0 million over his career playing poker both live and online. As an online player, McDonald has over 50 victories, which have earned him almost $3.0 million.
In 2008, at the age of 18, McDonald became the youngest player to win a European Poker Tour (EPT) title, winning $1.3 million. He is also the youngest person to win an event in the Epic Poker League (EPL). And it may only be April, but McDonald has already won cash four times in 2016!4
Toronto’s Sorel Mizzi is ranked fourth on Canada’s All-Time Money List with $11.15 million in live tournament earnings and #28 on the Global List. During the first five years of his career (2006-2010), Mizzi cashed 64 times, appeared at 31 final tables, winning eight events. He also cashed in at the WSOP 18 times, earning him more than $4.0 million.
Mizzi’s biggest live score was at the 2013 GuangDong Asia Millions Main Event, where he finished third, winning $2.07 million. In early 2014, he finished second at the Aussie Millions Main Event, earning $875,000. He has also won over $3.6 million playing online poker tournaments; that puts his combined tournament earnings at $14.7 million.5
Born in St John’s, Newfoundland, Michael Watson is ranked fifth on the Canada All-Time Money List and 46th on the All Time Money List. A resident of Toronto, Watson has earned more than $9.0 million since cashing in for $7,060 at his first live tournament at the Bellagio Cup II in Las Vegas in August 2006.
In January 2016, Watson cashed $728,325 when he placed first at no limit hold’em at the PCA Main Event at the Atlantis Resort in Nassau. His biggest win was a $1.67 million payday at the No Limit Hold’em World Poker Tour at the Bellagio Cup IV in July 2008.6
Non-U.S. Resident’s Poker Winnings Subject to 30% Withholding Tax
If you are a non-U.S. resident and won a significant amount of money (typically over $1,200) playing poker while visiting the U.S., your poker winnings are considered taxable winnings by the IRS and subject to a 30% withholding tax.
For instance, if you happen to win $50,000 playing no limit hold’em, the casino will give you $35,000; the IRS keeps the rest. However, if you live in a country like Canada, which has signed a U.S. tax treaty, you may be eligible for a refund.
There are a number of countries that currently do not have a U.S. tax treaty. However, if you reside in any of the following countries, you could still be eligible for a refund: Australia, Bahrain, Barbados, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Israel, Kuwait, Mexico, Malaysia, Monaco, New Zealand, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, and the United Arab Emirates.
Each of these exceptional Canadian poker players has experienced the 30% withholding tax firsthand. In fact, all these top players have contacted RMS at one time or another and successfully received refunds.
To see if you meet the criteria and are eligible to get some or all of your withholding tax back, contact Refund Management Services (RMS).
Poker Players Turn to RMS Get Their Withholding Tax Back
Whether you’re a professional poker player or avid novice, if you’ve visited a casino in the U.S. and had 30% of your gaming winnings withheld by the IRS, the tax refund experts at Refund Management Services can help you recoup a portion or all of your taxable winnings.
As the most trusted source for poker tax recovery, RMS has successfully completed the most U.S. gaming tax refunds for Canadians since 1998. Over that time, we’ve never been refused an eligible refund.
RMS was founded by a Canadian Chartered Accountant in 1998 and is the most reliable and experienced gaming and casino tax refund provider for non-U.S. residents. Only RMS has the One Simple StepTM process. Once you provide us with complete documentation, your claim will be processed and we will submit it to the IRS. Our customer service agents take care of the rest.
It can take a minimum of one year for the IRS to review the claim and for us to receive the refund. Your refund cheque gets mailed out to you as soon as your refund is approved.
1. “All Time Money List – Top 351,206,” The Hendon Mob web site; http://pokerdb.thehendonmob.com/ranking/all-time-money-list/, last accessed April 26, 2016.
2. “Daniel Negreanu,” Daniel Negreanu web site, http://danielnegreanu.com/, last accessed April 26, 2016.
3. “Jonathan Duhamel,” World Series of Poker web site; http://www.wsop.com/players/playerProfile.asp?playerID=95260, last accessed April 26, 2016.
4. “Mike McDonald,” Global Poker Index web site; http://www.globalpokerindex.com/poker-players/mike-mcdonald-96339/, last accessed April 26, 2016.
5. “Sorel Mizzi,” Global Poker Index web site; http://www.globalpokerindex.com/poker-players/sorel-mizzi-74857/, last accessed April 26, 2016.
6. “Michael Watson,” The Hendon Mob web site; http://pokerdb.thehendonmob.com/player.php?a=r&n=35140, last accessed April 26, 2016.