Mike McDonald, tournament professional from Canada

Born September 11, 1989, 26 years old.

Lives in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.

“I’m like the 7th most relevant Mike McDonald on Wikipedia.”

The following is information obtained from Facebook, Twitter, and several articles and compiled by 2CardsCollege.


Mike McDonald gets acquainted with poker at 14.

“At the end of grade 10, I was invited to a national math camp, and there I was introduced to Texas Hold’em by some people there. We played some SNGs and the structures were super deep and my knowledge of relative hand values was so skewed from playing like pregnant threes Five Card Draw that I more or less just waited for boats, and my patience was rewarded.”

The math camp

After he had returned from math camp, Mike decided to learn the mathematics of blackjack to take his favorite school competition to a new level.

“Casino night was my favorite school event, despite just min-betting blackjack for like 2 hours”.

“One day, I decided I wanted to learn how to play blackjack properly in case there was another casino night, so I went to thewizardofodds website and printed out a strategy card. When I was there, they had a banner to a website offering a free set of poker chips if you signed up for an online poker site. I went there and decided that in 250 hands of playing the smallest stakes, there’s no way I could lose more than the $200 a chipset would cost”.


Through the Limit Hold’em, blackjack on PartyPoker and bonuses, the 16-year-old player got a bankroll of $10,000 by the early 2005.

In an interview with Remko Rinkema in 2014, Mike revealed the identity of one of his first teachers:

“My dad did play poker and he even had his first $5,000 score before I had mine. We were rising through the ranks of poker together for about a year-and-a-half before I met Steve Paul-Ambrose, who taught me a lot.”

Poker gradually substitutes for all other promising hobbies. Mike McDonald’s “sporty” bio of his younger years before the switch to poker:

  • “Was once provincial shot put champion”
  • “Was cut from the volleyball team in grade 9 after playing competitively for 2 years”
  • “When I was a kid, my parents put me in competitive swimming because I couldn’t float”
  • “Feared dogs after a dog barking made me fall off my bike as a kid”
  • “My favorite part about playing chess is stalling when the other guy didn’t hit his clock”.


In January 2006, Mike McDonald finds out about the fellow townsman’s victory at the WPT PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Main Event.

Steve Paul-Ambrose is Mike’s new aim and he writes the PCA Champion a long letter.

A picture from PokerStars Bonus Cut

“Hi Steve, this is Mike McDonald. I would once again like to congratulate you on your accomplishment. I am currently a 16-year-old grade 12 from Waterloo who will (likely) be attending UW [University of Waterloo] for math next year and I am constantly trying to improve my game”.

“I guess after so many TV viewers see your decisions in the pocket cams you are probably confident enough in your play that your game wouldn’t be affected. I realize that my emailing you is sort of like pressuring you into allowing me to watch you play, and that is not what I intend to do. It is human nature to try to help people, but if you are uninterested, I am understanding.”

“Also, I would appreciate it if you don’t tell other 2+2ers that I am playing underage. I have read underage poker is fine as long as I have my parents’ consent (which I do, my dad is playing at Ultimate Bet as I write this), but I still don’t know whether my mom would like the idea of many people knowing that I play underage.”

Steve Paul-Ambrose: Unfortunately, I read this and let him come over… You know the rest.

Steve Paul-Ambrose with Mike Sexton and prize at PCA ’05


From Cody Groat’s article for the Canadian Stories Blog, written after the interview with Mike McDonald in 2013:

“One day Mike ended up winning $500 (in just that day), which was big for him at the time. ‘At the time,’ I wish I could have $500 today… but as I was saying, a good day. Then, his two new friends saw a tournament with a $250 dollar buy-in, which Mike had never done before (it was high for him at the time). Nervous to lose his successes of the day, he didn’t want to enter, but eventually his friends talked him into it and they said that if any of them won, it would be split evenly. Eventually Mike cracked and entered; shortly after, he lost. Then the friend who won big in the Bahamas also got out fairly early and things weren’t looking good. It just so happened, though, that friend number three ended up placing in third with a total payout of $16,000, making Mike’s $500 day a $5,500 day at age 16.”

The name of the third friend is Aaron “packmann” Coulthard. Having believed in tournaments, Mike starts seriously grinding.

Mike McDonald: My success during June and July on Paradise Poker put me in 2nd on the Paradise wins leaderboard and 10th on their TLB. I got into a 20-player freeroll for a seat in the power SNG (a 10 player tournament where winner got $1,000,000), I won that qualifier and made it to the SNG. In this tournament, I ran super hot before chopping it 3-handed for 330k.

Mike pays his parents’ mortgage with his winnings.

Cody Groat: 16-year-old Mike went into university with a net worth of about $400,000 (at that age, mine was probably about $25) and hoped to keep it a secret. He still planned on getting a co-op type job he hoped would pay about $16 an hour and blend in with the crowd. The secret came out, though, that the “young baby-faced kid” was a professional poker player, earning him the (then inaccurate) nickname “Mike the Millionaire.”

“Mike the Millionaire”

Mike McDonald: In hindsight, it’s no shocker my weekends were always so free to play online poker.

“At first I just wanted to earn a set of poker chips. Then, I wanted to earn minimum wage and after about a year thought it would be cool if I could pay off university. I never really intended for it to become my profession, but everything just worked out great.”

Mike enrolls in Waterloo University as an honors student, but poker soon takes over.

“I never skipped a class before university. I once ran into my CS 125 (I think professor at a poker table and didn’t recognize her, not because I am bad at recognizing faces, but because I had never seen her before.”

“Lost my student card in a poker game”

“There is a good chance that I won’t graduate until I’m like 25ish because $1 is a lot easier to earn now than it will be in 10 years playing poker and because $1 now is worth a lot more than $1 will be in 10 years.”


On New Year’s Eve in 2007, Mike McDonald buys a 50% stake for the Sunday Million and his player wins. After several weeks, Jimmy “Gobboboy” Fricke brings Timex 15% from winning the Aussie Millions.

Staking enters Mike’s life. By the end of September, he’s earned $800,000 on staking, won a bit less himself, and is planning a move to a new house.

“Bought a pretty sick townhouse and interior designers are buying [censored] for it while I’m here in London. I don’t have a car. I’ve got a Tag Heuer watch (the first upgrade from the old Timex). I bought an Armani suit and sport coat as well as shoes and shirts.”

“Most 17/18yo’s (myself included) would probably lose that money pretty rapidly doing something dumb. Meh, if I ran worse at staking, that could have been the case.”

DrLectr [observer chat]: plays like a timex runs like a rolex.

The day he turns 18, Mike plays the first WSOP Europe Main Event in London.

“On my 18th birthday the best televised hand of my career happened.”


“Got owned by Jamie Gold, went to a gay bar with Mark Vos. Live poker is AWESOME. Ppeople are so bad.”

In the meantime, a new goal gets set.

“After talking to Mark Vos, I would really like being a FTP pro because of the perks they get.”


The most important stuff gets condensed into one month. January starts with the three final tables and a victory at the Aussie Millions and continues in Dortmund, where Mike wins the European Poker Tour Main Event, becoming the youngest champion in EPT history.

He is still 18

Canada’s The Globe and Mail publishes the article called “Waterloo a hotbed for poker prodigies”

dedicated to Waterloo players’ poker success.

“Just call it the poker capital of Canada,” – says Patrick White, the author.

“For the fourth time in two years, a Waterloo, Ont. card shark has raked in more than half-a-million dollars in an international poker tournament. The latest Waterloo phenom to win big is 18-year-old Mike (Timex) McDonald, who cashed in $1.4 million worth of chips after winning the European Poker Tour German Open on Saturday. Mr. McDonald follows in the path of 18-year-old William Ma, a close friend who cleared more than $600,000 winning the Grand Prix de Paris last year. And then there’s Nenad Medic, who started playing poker while he was a forward for the University of Waterloo basketball team. He had $1.7 million payday last year when he won the World Poker Finals in Connecticut.”

Downtown of the Canadian poker capital

The fourth prodigy is Steve Paul-Ambrose, of course.

“Waterloo has always been known for math and engineering,” explains Steve. “And there’s certainly a large math element to poker. The students who are getting introduced to poker here tend to get very good very quickly.”

For some time, Mike is planning to write a book about tournament poker, but this idea does not develop. In 2014, he said, “In general, if you are good enough to beat poker, you wouldn’t spend your time writing a book.”

From his blog on CardRunners, April 2010:

“Probably ~2 years ago is when I came to terms with the fact I would never be viewed as the #1 poker player in the world.”

Soon, Mike suffers his first serious financial losses.

“Most of my money is in relatively low risk stocks,” he told everyone in 2007. However, in 2008, even before the start of the world financial crisis, he is losing on his investments.

From an interview with Remko Rinkema for iGaming in 2014:

“My first big loss came right after my first huge score in Dortmund, as that was a few months before the stock market tanked. My investments were very diversified across countries, sectors, industries, and currencies, but if everything drops 25%, it drops 25%. That was shitty because the biggest downswing I had in my poker career turned out to be completely unrelated to poker. It’s funny because my job is gambling and I lost most money doing something I regarded being safe investments.”

“That made me a little apprehensive to pursue other investments and it made me realize that in every single situation where money can be made, money can be lost. Since then, for my non-poker investments, I’ve been extremely risk-averse even though I’m possibly passing up profitable things.”


At 19, Mike McDonald appears several more times in the late stages of high-stakes European Poker Tour events, taking fifth place in EPT Dortmund. He signs a contract with Full Tilt Poker.

From the thread with the discussion of the new Red Pro on the 2+2 forum, quote by Lee Jones:

“I remember the first time I saw Mike. It was at the EPT in . He came down to breakfast about 15 minutes before breakfast closed. Now, missing breakfast in a fancy European hotel is a big deal because they all provide these massive high-end, free breakfasts with fruit, cereal, yogurt, breads, pastries, eggs, sausage, potatoes, etc.

So, ol’ Timex cruises in wearing his flannel pajama bottoms, slippers, and a t-shirt, just as easy and casual as if he were coming down to breakfast at his parents’ house on Christmas morning.

I turned to Brandon Schaefer and said, ‘Who’s pajama kid?’

Brandon nodded sagely and said, ‘He. Is. Timex’.”

Twitter’s already started playing one of the leading roles among the social networks. Mike’s account appears.

May, 30

Just watched season 1 of breaking bad, was pretty sweet

June, 2

Just finished another 13 mile run

June, 8

Up and Hangover were both really good (in other words I’m super jealous of everyone whose 21)

July, 5

On the Sunday grind again, had trouble convincing HSBC that I really do need to deposit to multiple gambling sites every week 🙁

October, 26

This season of Dexter seems much better than last season

In December, Mike joins the CardRunners coaching team.


2010 starts in Mike McDonald’s usual style. In January, he wins a big PCA side event and in two weeks he finishes third in the Deauville stage of the European Poker Tour.

Mike in 2010

But closer to April, Mike for the first time plays with the idea of ending his career as a player and writes the “program” post in his blog.

“The money itself would probably do almost nothing to change my future. I think my position in a lot of ways is truly unique since I don’t know if there is anyone else in my age range who has as drastic of a ratio between their wealth and their earning potential. Most of the 20-23 year olds with my level of success are much better and will continue having high-6-figure or 7-figure years for quite some time, but I think I more or less managed to be in the right place at the right time and made about as much money as I reasonably could have without becoming really good.”

“At this point, I arrive at the ‘where do I go from here’ question. My life goal was to more or less get to the point where I never had to do anything for the rest of my life as early as possible. I’m at that point; I have almost 0 obligations and responsibilities, and if I really wanted to, I could sit around for the rest of my life watching the world go by and I’m just realizing that’s not what I want.”

SeraphimVulture [2+2]: You can’t quit poker! Poker quits YOU, Mike!

June, 1

I always forget how jealous I am of people playing the WSOP. Despite retirement, I’ll definitely be out

there next summer.

June, 10

Why would I ever bet against Durrrr?


January, 26

My prof just said he’ll call the police if people keep talking in class. Also no cell phones allowed – tweeting under my desk to avoid jail.

January, 31

My 60 year old neighbor just said she approves of loud parties in my condo and likes that today’s youth enjoy ourselves as much as she did.

February, 25

Won a lifelong trip to an all-inclusive resort by making an absurd darts shot here in the Dominican. I have a contract, but doubt they’ll pay.

April, 11

By the end of January, I convinced myself that Eric Seidel is super-using live. He’s not doing a great job of convincing me otherwise.

April, 20

Looks like Full Tilt Poker will be getting its domain name back shortly. Good to see steps in the right direction.

April, 24

Without all u Americans, tourneys are really soft. So far today prob 80% of hands where someone’s gotten it in for stacks they’ve misplayed.

Mike does not quit poker. He wrote in his blog on CardRunners:

“A year ago, I said that ‘I want to be able to have a wider group of interests, and meet more people with similar goals; I want to wake up each day knowing I can fill it with things that I find interesting or challenging rather than simply filling it with things that fill time.’ I think since last year I’ve done a better job of achieving this than I had pre-retirement, but still nowhere near as well as I’d like to. I’m enrolled in the Business program at Wilfrid Laurier University and overall it’s been lots of fun and I’ve met a ton of awesome people, Most of the learning I’m doing at the moment doesn’t intrigue me too much, but so far I’m happy with my decision to return to school and I feel like it has allowed me to appreciate poker more.”

Still, Mike appearing at EPT Madrid is met by a unified “Timex is Back” by the poker press.

“Timex is back”

In September, Mike turns 21 and in June, he makes his debut at the WSOP.

June, 8

“You know sometimes you’ve just gotta bink 2 outers and then bang models. Some people have that life, some people have my life” #vegasquotes

June, 14

“In 2007, I had one of T.J Cloutier’s bracelets as collateral on a $300 loan, he didn’t collect”

June, 25

“Ah ah ah I only play premium. I never bluff. Humberto only bluff to his wife.”

July, 16

Wow it’s been 3 months since Black Friday – the 2nd worst thing for the poker economy behind Scott Seiver learning how to play.

July, 22

When Scott Seiver plays rock paper scissors, rock always wins cause his stones are a hell of a lot bigger than yours.

In August, he returns to Las Vegas for the first round of the Epic Poker League, performs unsuccessfully, and sells stakes for the second one to take place in September. He puts up 40% for sale and one-tenth of it (4%) is bought by “Gozoboro.” There are no other buyers.

“I have poker dreams about once a month and it typically involves me being deep in a big live tournament and either winning a bunch of money or being deep and having something absurd happen (like the tournament gets cancelled, or I realize it was for play money or something). Anyways, before day 3 I dreamt I was out of the tournament and didn’t know how. I woke up kinda miserable until I realized it was just a dream. Sweet.”

Mike wins the $20,000 buy-in tournament and, of course, he is the youngest champion in the history of EPL, but the list of champions would end up being very short.

September, 7

“I 5xed the cutoff and josh got the message and folded AK. We speak holdem” #philhellmuthquotes

September, 21

When I got “Howard Lederer’s Secrets of NLHE” DVD for my 15th bday, I never imagined that one day I’d be voting him out of a poker league.

In autumn, Timex coaches Pius Heinz for November Nine and the German becomes the world champion.

Pius Heinz

From an interview with Remko Rinkema for iGaming 2014:

“I’m good friends with Johannes Strassmann, who was at my Dortmund final table, and he reached out to me on Facebook after he heard that Pius was looking for a coach. I played with Jake on Day 4 of the Main Event and he told me then that he would be interested in coaching in case he would go deep, as he was only playing MTTs for a few months. It was sort of a coincidence that I mentioned that I had done coaching before and when he made the final table he messaged me.”

“I charged $600 per hour and going forward I would likely charge something that equates to a similar amount per hour, but where it doesn’t feel like they are paying out of pocket.”

“The one thing I would say about Pius is that he was really good already.”

December, 2011

Cliff notes: No longer in school and running better than I ever have in my poker career.


At the end of 2011, Mike conducts a live theoretical seminar in Vienna and a month later appears at William Ma’s poker course at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a visiting coach. The course is attended by 200-plus students and is to be continued the following year.


In February, “Poker with a Purpose,” written by a group of professionals, hits the stores. Timex has added his chapter to it. All proceeds go to charity.

“Something must have changed and in the last 6 months, my motivation has been unbelievable. I’ve actually run like complete shit so far this year (7th when 5 paid in the 100k at pca, 17th when 16 pay in the 25k at pca, bricked all the people who I bought pieces of in the 100ks and 250k) and yet I haven’t been more excited by poker in years.”

The poker community discusses the famous Timex’ stare-down. From a report from EPT Madrid on PokerNews:

“Willem De Vries just openly declared to Mike McDonald, ‘I was watching a poker show a couple of months back with my girlfriend and you were on there and then my girlfriend said, ‘I would totally do him,’ so you have to understand I’ve had trouble looking at you today.'”

In the spring, Mike switches to a Lamborghini.

From an interview with Remko Rinkema for iGaming in 2014:

“I’ve had a few situations where I drove by and a girl asked for a ride. One time, I drove a girl around for a few blocks and I think she wanted to sleep with me, but that ended up not happening because I was supposed to see this other girl later that night. So, I’ve never gotten laid from a ‘Hey, hop in and I’ll bang you’ situation. It has gotten me laid several times where I’m at a house party or a bar and people introduced me to girls saying, ‘This is my friend who has a Lamborghini.'”

In autumn, he again coaches a November Niner. This time, it is Jake Balsiger and he finishes the WSOP Main Event in third.

As far as tournament results, the year turns out not to be the best: a few usual final tables in High Roller events.

April, 24

I honestly may be #1 in the world at busting an important tournament and then snap-regging a random tournament and taking it seriously.


An account called “Bank of Timex” appears on Twitter. With its help, Mike is planning to fight the inadequate mark-ups on the staking market.

The “bank” stays in an active mode for just a week.

“Congratulations marketplace idiots, you guys win again! I’ve spent the evening learning more about the legality of online gambling and can’t really justify keeping this going. I wanted to do my part to fix how stupid the marketplace is, but I guess I can’t really try to fix poker’s problems without being penalized.”

June, 29

Guy crossing the street walks as slow as possible at shallowest angle possible glaring at me. He had no clue how many glaring contests I’ve won.

September, 13

Tested the ps mobile app since I wanted to play the wcoop while rock climbing today. Won my trial tourney (82 hyper) for 6k while in the car.

Meanwhile, this is happening at the tables:

December, 22

Poker has been my job for ~3400 days and I guess I’m lucky that even on the 3400th most profitable day I’ll still go to bed happy tonight.


February, 8

Always a bridesmaid, but damn the last 6 months have gone outrageously well. I almost feel guilty with how well I’ve been running.

February, 9

Final tabled my 6th straight super high roller. 4th 9th 3rd 8th 2nd- time for a 1st. 2nd/8 with 4m AUD up top.

February, 10

3rd for 1.9m – I’m gonna guess this is the first time anyone has ever had 7 figure scores in 3 consecutive tournaments played.

March, 24

Guy at my table today ranting about how unlucky he is:

“check my opr- heaps of FTs no wins”

“u and me both- that sounds just like my year”

Resting from destroying live series, Mike wins the biggest prize of his career in an online MTT. He finishes third in the FTOPS Main Event after a deal is made.

April, 14

’14 has been ludicrous. Made the biggest ft of my life 3x, got my biggest live cash, got my biggest stars cash & now my biggest online cash.

April, 15

Played 1 tournament today and won a Monte Carlo seat. Slightly below average day, but I’ll keep my head up.

August, 20

Swapped with 1 person, bought action of 1 person, lost 3 bullets, and had one of my most profitable super high rollers ever. Man I’m good.

[CAPTION=80%]Mike in 2014[/CAPTION]

October, 2014

Omw to Macau. If my plane crashes, my final thoughts will be relief that Amaya won’t get any more of my rake.

November, 8

In one of the most Canadian moments of my life, I got elbowed in the head on break and apologized to the guy.


Phil Ivey wins his third Aussie Millions Challenge on February 2. In 2014, Mike McDonald finished third; in 2015, he gives way to Ivey heads-up and chalks up one more seven-digit cash.


March, 24

In 4 days, Dzmitry Urbanovich has won as many live tournies as I have in my life. I’ll be asking these kids if they want fries with that soon.

April, 15

4 years since black Friday. I’m usually pretty pessimistic, but the state of poker is much, much better than I would have anticipated.

Against the background of the tournament success the unsuccessful foray into cash games passes barely unnoticed.

July, 8

I’m about to bluff river and out of the blue here Douglas Polk’s loud dumb voice saying, “I hear Timex is really good at 2/5.” #Check

In autumn, there comes the upshot of one of the most famous TV hands in history.


As of now, Mike MacDonald has $12.5 million in cashes in live tournaments and $3 million in online MTTs.

On October 23, he won the High Roller in Malta and updates his Twitter bio: “Always a bridesmaid, never a bride” turns into “Regularly a bridesmaid, occasionally a bride.”

To be continued.