|Sure, Chris Moneymaker
dabbled around at other online
poker sites, but Poker Stars'
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.
|WSOP Gallery of Champions Poker Professional Player Biography|
Since 2003, it's a good bet that no one has heard the question more than
"Come on, is that your real name?"
It 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.
What began as a childhood of playing bridge with his grandmother, morphed
into a later love of blackjack with his father.
Though 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 fantasy.
Credit 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.
Sure, 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.
Must Be Magic
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
Then, it happened. Chris won it and found himself smack dab in the middle of
a satellite to the World Series of Poker.
Now, 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.
As 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 champion.
He'd turned $39 into $10,000.
It wasn't magic. It was Moneymaker.
Ignorance is Bliss
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.
Still, 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.
So, he did all he could do. He draped his head in a hat and covered his eyes
When 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.
His 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.
Perhaps 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.
"You know it's on you, right?" Chan asked.
Chris looked down and saw his cards sitting in front of him. He'd never folded.
Under 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.
By 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
Chris Moneymaker - Pro Poker Player
There's nothing quite like winning the WSOP to turn a player into an
Since 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 televised play.
Chris 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.
Chris also recently started his own company, Moneymaker Gaming.
For more on Chris' life story, be sure to check out his book Moneymaker: How
an Amateur Poker Player Turned $40 into $2.5 Million at the World Series of