Buddhist Poker Player Donates Winnings to Those in Need

Scott Wellenbach, an online poker player from Canada, believes that all his winnings should go to charity. The practicing Buddhist rationalizes his successful poker sessions by donating to those in need. Recently, Wellenbach was placed third in a PokerStars Caribbean land-poker event and won over $671,000, after reaching the Main Event through an online tournament.

Wellenbach announced that he would be donating his hundreds of thousands to his favorite charities that include Oxfam and Doctors Without Borders. In an interview to CBC, he said that he had a deal with the “poker gods” that they would send him good results if, in return, he gave his winnings away.

“How can you not love this guy?” PokerStars tweeted after Wellenbach made its intentions known.

While he admits that gambling contradicts Buddhist teaches, the player says that the game offers some insights into the ancient teachings. “Poker gives you a tremendous opportunity to work with the heavens and hells of your mind,” he said. “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.”

After winning a free trip to Las Vegas in 2010, Wellenbach fell in love with the game of poker. He went on to play at tournaments, winning, at the most, $72,000.  It wasn’t after he landed at the Main Event of the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Tournament in the Bahamas that he earned a whopping $671,240.

“I guess I rationalize my addiction by giving away the winnings, saying “Well, at least I’m doing good things with it,” he said.

The 67-year-old works as a translator of Buddhist teachings from Sanskrit and Tibetan but said that he will continue playing his favorite game in order to do more good in the world.

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