Buddhist poker player donates $600,000 win to charity
Buddhism and high-stakes poker may seem like odd bedfellows, but for Scott Wellenbach, they go hand-in-hand.
The Canadian poker player came in third at a poker tournament in the Bahamas, taking away $671,240 (£518,868).
As usual, he is donating all his winnings to charity, earning him the nickname "the people's hero".
"Being a practitioner of Buddhism, we sit around and meditate a lot - and that's free," he told the BBC.
When he's not buying in, Mr Wellenbach works as a translator of Tibetan and Sanskrit Buddhist texts for a religious non-profit.
He came to the religion as a young man, searching for a way to cope with the dissatisfactions of life.
Now age 67, he meditates for about an hour every day - but never more than when he is in a poker tournament.
"My personal discipline waxes and wanes," he said.
"Down here at the poker tournament, my discipline was excellent every morning! I was so desperate for a little glimpse of sanity in the midst of all this."
Although he learned how to play poker as a young child, he did not play in earnest until 2010, when he won a free trip to Las Vegas.
He was sent to the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure tournament in the Bahamas after winning an online tournament.
Until yesterday, his biggest win had been $72,176. He placed third in the Bahamas tournament's main event, which he calls "bittersweet".
"I have a lot to learn about how to play poker at this level, with these guys who are so, so good," he said.
How does he reconcile his Buddhist practice - which emphasis making peace with the impermanence of life - with the adrenaline rush of a straight flush?
"With great difficulty," he admitted.
He is concerned about the ethics of playing a game that has left many in financial ruin.
"I suppose I rationalize it by giving my winnings to charity," he said. He donates to several Buddhist charities, as well as Oxfam and Doctors Without Borders.
But in a way, he considers poker a great microcosm of the contradictions of existence.
"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."