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A Buddhist Card Shark Who Won $600K at a Poker Tourney Is Giving It All Away

"Being a practitioner of Buddhism, we sit around and meditate a lot—and that's free."

by River Donaghey
Jan 18 2019, 6:09pm

Screenshot via BestPokerVideos / YouTube

A 67-year-old Buddhist from Canada just won himself more than half-a-million dollars at a poker tournament in the Bahamas—and he's decided to give away every penny, BBC reports.

Scott Wellenbach came in third place at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Main Event this week, taking home a mind-boggling $671,240—but according to Wellenbach, he doesn't really need the money. "Being a practitioner of Buddhism, we sit around and meditate a lot—and that's free," he told the BBC.

Wellenbach, who's been dubbed the "people's hero" for deciding to donate his winnings, found his way into the poker game after coming out on top in an online tournament. He's previously given his pots to charities like Oxfam and Doctors Without Borders, though he's never taken home this much cash before. Back in 2017, Wellenbach won $72,000 at a poker tournament in Barcelona and gave most of it to a Buddhist nunnery.

”Buddhism, like many traditions, has had a difficulty with gender bias, and I think it’s very important to support the education of young nuns,” Wellenbach told CBC at the time.

When he's not winning Daddy Warbucks-level stacks at the poker table and using them to make the world a better place, Wellenbach spends his time meditating for at least an hour a day and translating Buddhist and Sanskrit texts, which doesn't necessarily scream "hardcore card shark." But as Wellenbach tells it, hustling cards apparently helps with his Buddhist practice.

"Poker gives you a tremendous opportunity to work with the heavens and hells of your mind," Wellenbach told BBC. "You're winning and losing every minute-and-a-half, and so some sense of how your hopes and fears go up and down with the passing circumstance of the world is brought to fore at the poker table."

Wellenbach reportedly still hasn't decided which charities will wind up with his earnings this time around, but he told PokerNews that he hopes "the money goes to good purposes" and can help give people the feeling "that their lives are eased in some way."

To you, good sir, we say this: May your future be paved with royal flushes and pocket aces or whatever. You are truly a saint, and a more generous soul than any of our selfish, greedy asses will ever be.

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