Moneymaker is credited as the godfather of the
poker revolution for his 2003 World
Series of Poker championship. The one-time
Tennessee accountant turned the poker world upside
down. After winning a PokerStars World Series
of Poker satellite tournament, he went on to win
the 2003 World Series of Poker main event. It
was, in large part, the beginning of the Internet
poker revolution. Now, Chris Moneymaker can't
go anywhere without being asked for autographs.
2003, it's a good bet that no one has heard the question
more than Chris Moneymaker:
on, is that your real name?"
is a trite, but still reasonable question. After all,
Chris, a one-time accountant who pulled down around
$40,000 a year, found a way to turn a lifetime of
gambling into the biggest contest and payout of his
life. Chris managed to make it into the World Series
of Poker, scrap through a record field, and rise to
the very top for a $2.5 million payday.
began as a childhood of playing bridge with his
grandmother, morphed into a later love of blackjack
with his father.
gambling coursed through his veins faster than
lifeblood, Chris labored through his accounting
degree at the University of Tennessee, scored
a Masters degree and settled into a perfectly
suburban life of numbers crunching and gambling
the film "Rounders" with Chris' internal
revolution. Like the movie did for thousands of
young wannabe players, it shot Chris and his friends
into the world of Texas
Holdem. Soon, knocking around his friends
wasn't enough. He wanted to test his mettle against
some unknown chip-slingers. He wanted to find
a card room. The sad fact was, however, Chris
would've had to travel four hours from home to
sit down at a legal table.
Chris dabbled around at other online poker sites,
but Poker Stars' muti-table tournament schedule intrigued
him. It drew him into countless $20 and $30 events.
He started rising through the competition, cashing
and even winning some of those huge events. It would
seem like a big deal at the time. That is, it would
seem like a big deal until Chris found himself entering
a $39 satellite tournament.
It was a simple $39 satellite with 18 players in it.
Chris couldn't bring himself to believe he even had
a chance among those few 18 players. He just wanted
to have a little fun and educate himself a little
better in the ways of tournament poker.
it happened. Chris won it and found himself smack
dab in the middle of a satellite to the World Series
Chris had more opponents. He had to face down more
than 60 other players. What's more, the potential
prize was almost unthinkable. The winner of the big
satellite would go to Vegas with a $10,000 buy-in
to the World Series of Poker.
the hours went by, Chris' stack of chips grew. When
it was over Chris stared at the screen and realized
he was about to play for the chance to be a world
turned $39 into $10,000.
wasn't magic. It was Moneymaker.
Chris strolled into Las Vegas' Binion's
Horseshoe and looked around. Sure, there was
one of his personal heroes, Johnny Chan. But for
some reason, he didn't feel nervous. Looking back,
he realized that he should've been. In that building
stood the greatest poker players in the world.
The beauty of it was this: because he wasn't nervous,
he wasn't intimidated.
Chris knew he didn't have the real world, real casino
card room experience. He studied his face, wondering
how many tells he would give off when he sat down
at the table.
he did all he could do. He draped his head in a hat
and covered his eyes with sunglasses.
he started to play, his only goal was to salvage his
pride and survive through the first day. He did himself
one better. He ended the first day with more than
60,000 in chips. With that day behind him, he decided
he now wanted to make it into the money.
success, though, landed him in an uncomfortable position.
On Day 3, he landed on one of ESPN's televised tables,
sitting with well-known professionals like Paul Darden,
Howard Lederer and Johnny Chan.
it was inevitable, but Chris finally had to face his
amateur status. Chan raised the pot and Lederer put
in a re-raise. Chris sat back, studying Chan, wondering
why the pro was taking so long to make a decision
about the re-raise. Then Chan spoke. Not to Lederer.
Not to the dealer. Chan was talking to Chris.
know it's on you, right?" Chan asked.
looked down and saw his cards sitting in front of
him. He'd never folded.
a blanket of guffaws and chortles, Chris made up his
mind. He'd just looked as foolish as he possibly could.
Now it was time to win.
and by, Chris battled his way to the final table and
ultimately to a now historic heads-up match with well-known
pro Sammy Farha. Still, he couldn't conceive of winning
the whole thing. That was, he couldn't conceive of
it until his flopped two pair made a full house and
crushed Farha's flopped pair of jacks.
Moneymaker - Pro Poker Player
There's nothing quite like winning the WSOP to turn
a player into an overnight pro.
that fateful day in 2003, Chris has spent his months
adjusting to life as an instant celebrity. He's been
forced to adjust his style of play to thwart the people
who believed they'd picked up reads on him from his
has since proved he is no one-hit wonder. He's traveled
on the tournament circuit, hitting some of the biggest
poker tournaments in the world, including World Poker
Finals at Foxwoods, the WPT Invitationals, the PokerStars
Caribbean Poker Adventure , the Bay 101 Shooting Stars
tournament, and the European Poker Tour Grand Final
in Monte Carlo.
also recently started his own company, Moneymaker
Gaming. (Credit: Chris Moneymaker official website)