Bérubé – Tax Court of Canada finds that, as shown by his winnings over a protracted period, a full-time poker player had a reasonable expectation of making a living at it
After depositing his entire savings with an online poker site in 2007, the taxpayer began playing poker (online around 95% of the time, and in-person for the balance) and between 2008 and 2010 took part in around 20 poker tournaments in various international locations. His poker activities were his only source of income from 2008 to 2011.
CRA reassessed his 2008 year to include $1.6 million of net poker winnings in his income, but his appeal for this year was later allowed by consent. At issue were further reassessed inclusions in the taxpayer’s income for the 2009, 2010, and 2011 of $884,323, $454,867, and $231,208, respectively.
Before confirming these income inclusions subject to some agreed downward adjustments, Favreau J dismissed the taxpayer’s arguments that poker was not a source of income to him, for essentially the same reasons as in D'Auteuil (which was released on the same day). He stated:
[T]he appellant spent almost all of his time playing poker. …
Despite his unusual lifestyle and his propensity to ridicule his opponents, the appellant was a serious businessman. … The appellant adopted objective standards of risk management and minimization. He played multiple tables at once in an effort to maximize his winning potential in the shortest amount of time.
At this level of winnings by the appellant over such a long period of time, I am satisfied that the appellant had a reasonable expectation of being able to make a living at playing poker … .
Neal Armstrong. Summary of Bérubé v. The King, 2023 CCI 12 under s. 3(a) – business source.