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10 Years Since The Poker Boom Started

November 27, 2013


In this blog post I want to honor Chris Moneymaker, who ignited the poker boom in 2003. So being 2013 is the 10th anniversary of this momentous occasion I want to start with the key hand that Moneymaker played against Phil Ivey in the WSOP 2003 where he sucked out big time to take this tourney down (Yes, you need to be lucky to win a tournament). He qualified for the WSOP Main Event that year through a $39 satellite, a real “nothing is impossible in America” story and he lived the American Dream. He went from unknown accountant in Tennessee to a millionaire!

“World Series of Poker

Moneymaker was working as an accountant when he won a seat into the main event of the 2003 World Series of Poker through a US$39 satellite tournament at the PokerStars online poker card room. Although largely unknown prior to the tournament, on day one of the tournament his skills caught the attention of professional sports handicapper Lou Diamond, who called Moneymaker his “dark horse to win the whole tournament.”[7] Moneymaker went on to win the first prize of $2.5 million, instantly garnering poker superstar status. It was his first live poker tournament. One of Moneymaker’s most memorable hands was heads-up against Sam Farha, when on the river he bluffed “all in” with King high. Farha folded a pair of nines, quickly changing the momentum of the match. Moneymaker eventually won the WSOP when his 5 4♠ beat Farha’s J 10 on a board of J 5♠ 4♣ 8 5, giving Moneymaker a full house. After winning the WSOP, he quit his job to serve as a celebrity spokesman for Series owner Harrah’s Entertainment as well as PokerStars. He also started his own company, Moneymaker Gaming,and began traveling to play in more numerous and larger buy-in tournaments.

His autobiography, Moneymaker: How an Amateur Poker Player Turned $40 into $2.5 Million at the World Series of Poker was published in March 2005.” – [Source: Wikipedia]

Here is a video of that momentous key hand:

In this next video we see Moneymaker eight years later in the Poker Caribbean Adventure on Paradise Island in the Atlantis in the Bahamas. This is the second biggest tournament in the world after the WSOP in Las Vegas. It is a great medley that shows Chris Moneymaker as more of a “gut-feel” player rather than a math whiz…

I played with “money” in the EPT 8 Grand Finale. I had him to my immediate right in a Euro 1,000 buy-in sit and go. “Money” busted before the money and I lost HU against a French fellow but it was a nice score nevertheless. Later in that tourney however I won my first EPT title.

After the 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event, the sudden growth in interest in poker that followed was aptly named The Moneymaker Effect. Here is what Wikipedia has to say about the term:

Moneymaker Effect

The Moneymaker Effect is the name of the sudden growth in interest in poker after the 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event.

The term was created after Chris Moneymaker, a 27-year-old accountant and amateur poker player from Tennessee, United States, outlasted 838 other players to win the 2003 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event, thereby winning the US$2.5 million prize and the title of World Champion. Moneymaker became the new poster boyfor poker, inspiring potential players to believe that “staying at home in front of a computer screen could be more profitable than going to work.” His improbable win also started a new era in poker in which “a nobody could topple the feared pros.”

According to an article in the Las Vegas Sun, Moneymaker’s victory has been credited with launching the “poker craze”, along with assistance from televised tournaments with hole-card cameras and the increased popularity of online poker.

Moneymaker gained entrance to the 2003 World Series of Poker by winning a $39 poker satellite tournament at the online poker card room, PokerStars. This win gave him a seat at a table in a larger satellite tournament whose grand prize was a seat at the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, Nevada which normally costs $10,000. Moneymaker won the tournament and went on to compete in the 2003 WSOP event.

Now a member of Team PokerStars, Moneymaker’s biography on the PokerStars website reads: “His story sparked a tidal wave of interest in poker, a phenomenon that’s been nicknamed the ‘Moneymaker Effect’ […] he’ll always be remembered for that epic victory in 2003. It’s a legacy he is clearly proud of and one that’s given him the kind of life all poker players dream of.” Moneymaker’s story of how an amateur beat some of the best poker players in the world and win a multi-million dollar cash prize is believed to have inspired millions of people to begin playing poker, both online and in card rooms around the world.

At the2004 World Series of Poker the following year, a semi-professional player, Greg Raymer, also qualified online and went on to win that year’s Main Event, along with its $5 million grand prize, in a larger field of 2,576 players.”

So here’s to Chris Moneymaker who started the poker boom way back in 2003!


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