Chris Moneymaker: Meet the man who helped change poker destiny overnight

Undoubtedly, he was the chip leader at the 2003 World Series of Poker (WSOP) having fought the odds anyway to make it to the final table out of 839 participants. And now, from the initial $86 satellite entry fee that gave him a seat at the WSOP – the ticket price to the tournament at Binion’s Hotel in Las Vegas could be $10,000 – the multi-million dollar payout has been made. guaranteed.

Over the course of a week in May, 837 candidates were eliminated, pitting the amateur online player against seasoned pro Sam Farha. And when they played Texas holdem, Moneymaker must have wanted the glory of winning the most prestigious prize in poker, let alone the $2.5 million offered to the winner.

And regardless of Farha’s starting hand, Moneymaker’s 5 diamonds and 4 sticks don’t exactly inspire confidence. But by this point, fate was clearly calling.

Judging by his name, you might think that Chris Moneymaker is meant to have been involved in settling the funds. And you will be right.

Growing up in Knoxville, Tennessee, Moneymaker became an accountant and – as he told CNN Sport in an interview discussing his involvement working with VELO sponsorship with World Series of Poker, who is highlighting how poker skill can extend beyond the table — he admits the translation plays a part in his surname, too.

“My father was Moneymaker, and we had a long line of males in our family tree,” he says. “From what I was told […] they make gold and silver coins.

“The original name was Nurmacher. And when they came to England, they took the literal translation of a man who made silver and gold and that was Moneymaker.”

Chris Moneymaker competes in the main event at the 2015 World Series of Poker.

Moneymaker’s love of card and table games led to playing poker becoming more frequent in his routine. But it’s unlikely to lead to a career change and even his entry into an $86 satellite tournament, leading to a follow-up tournament where a seat at the famous WSOP is being lost. menace, is not his pressing priority.

In fact, Moneymaker says that not winning the second tournament is more important – to the extent of intentionally losing – because fourth place means a cash prize.

Moneymaker said that “it was a total mistake” that he even entered to try and win a spot at the WSOP, “I thought I was playing for the cash. We lost five games. [five players left] and I’m really the chip leader and I’m trying hard to get fourth place because I want $8,000 cash.

“I don’t want to sit in the World Series of Poker against the best players in the world because I’m just an amateur playing with friends. I’ve never played against a pro in my life. And $8,000 will go a long way to paying my bills and helping around the house.

“My goal was to get those eight totals. And a friend offered me the seat, and that’s how I got the World Series seat. And the rest is history.”

Like a Hollywood script

Real history. Moneymaker’s epic run in 2003 coincidentally coincided with what he called the “dark ages” for the iconic pastime. Moneymaker notes: “Poker rooms are closed.” “The game has declined. It’s really like a back room, you know – basically, what you’re going to see in the movies.”

And film is an appropriate metaphor because what Moneymaker achieves is something of a myth, often dreamed up by Hollywood screenwriters.

His win even coined a phrase: The Money Maker Effect. In essence, a rapid expansion of online poker players who, inspired by Moneymaker, have competed in tournaments with experienced professionals, hoping to make some serious money of their own. .

Television coverage played an important role, as the creative use of cameras displaying ‘hole’ cards – two starting cards with which players start each hand – eliminated many mysteries, turning it turned into something like a sport itself.

And never mind 839 players: in 2019, the field with 8,569 players is said to be the second largest in WSOP history. The in-person WSOP was not held last year because of the coronavirus pandemic, but this year’s return to physical activity found 6,650 entries, with a prize pool of more than $62 million.
For a while, Moneymaker went back to the years and got pretty deep into the 2021 league, eyeing a second WSOP bracelet, but ended up excelling in a respectable way. 260th place, grossing $38,600.

‘Trick of the century’

Back in 2003, then 27-year-old Moneymaker embarked on a run where, fueled by Red Bull and water, he beat some of the biggest names in the game – a sports story by David and Goliath for all time.

Several hands have since become the stuff of legend, notably the top-up (all five cards from the same suit) that knocked out the legendary Johnny Chan, who lost his heart because Moneymaker had The trump card wins.

Moneymaker sent the great Phil Ivey in a one-handed rollercoaster, where at one point Moneymaker seemed certain to win, then lose, before another ace got him out of trouble and send Ivey packing.

And when Moneymaker pits him against Farha for the championship, an incredibly brave hoax sends Moneymaker into full force, meaning he’s basically willing to bet his competitive life on nothing more. is the superior card of a king.

Farha not only has the upper hand in every way – a pair of nines – but knows it. “You must have missed your draw, right?” Farha said at one point.

The problem is that if his reading of the situation is incorrect, Farha will be disqualified and therefore decide to be eliminated. ESPN broadcaster Norman Chad described Moneymaker’s move as “the hoax of the century.”

Moneymaker became a poker name after one night of his stunning WSOP win in 2003.

And so to the last hand. Moneymaker’s 5 diamonds and 4 sticks are inferior to Farha’s heart and 10 diamond jacks, but another miracle happened when the dealer revealed the three community cards.

Not only does Moneymaker match his own cards with five spades and four clubs to give him two pairs, but Farha actually has a matching jack on the board, which makes him appear to be in the position of better.

This time, Farha will be all in, which is an understandable call for Moneymaker. The turn-based card generates eight diamonds, and the fifth and final river card five hearts, to secure a win and give Moneymaker a full house in the process. “This is unthinkable. Unthinkable!” Chad exclaimed.

Almost 20 years on, Moneymaker seems to be able to recall every moment. “When you can see an amateur like me pull off such a hoax, it makes people hope that they can do it too,” he said, referring to the so-called “Hook”. of the century”.

In suggesting that his critics say he is simply lucky, Moneymaker doesn’t necessarily object, but adds something important.

“You can’t win a poker tournament if you’re unlucky. That’s just part of the game. But you also have to put yourself in the position of the lucky one. That’s what makes the game so good. The best player won the time, no one played.”


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