Chris Moorman Q&A: ‘The best cash game players are better than tournament players’

As the hugely anticipated Moorman’s Book of Poker is released, Ross Jarvis caught up with the undisputed king of online tournaments

Chris Moorman has been the architect of many famous firsts in online poker history. He was the first player to win over 20 Pocket Fives ‘Triple Crowns’, achieved by winning three major tournaments on three separate sites within one week. He became the first UK player to ever top the Pocket Fives world rankings in 2009. And, most famously, the 29-year-old Moorman became the first player in online tournament history to achieve $10m in cashes in late 2013. One year later and that astonishing figure has already grown to $11.6m.

After nearly a decade at the top Moorman is still dominating, long after many of his peers have vanished from sight. He’s conquered the live game too, the highlight of his $4m in winnings coming when he shipped the WPT LA Poker Classic in March for $1m.

It’s no surprise then that poker players have been counting down the days since Chris Moorman announced he would be working on a strategy book. Now that the book is finally here we met with the king to discuss how he has managed to rule the poker kingdom for so long.

PokerPlayer: Why do you think so many players struggle to survive at the top of online poker like you have for nearly a decade?
Chris Moorman: Some people get too complacent and don’t keep working to beat the games. The online game changes so much faster than live. If you don’t play live poker for a few months you’ll be fine because there are a lot more people who enter who just can’t win the tournament. Online, even the
bad players generally know how to be aggressive.

It’s a mix of players being unable to beat the games anymore, or for some it may be that online poker isn’t fulfilling. They want to do other things to make a bit of money and don’t have the motivation anymore to grind online.

You were one of the first super-aggressive players online. But how has your style had to adapt over the last decade for you to carry on winning?
I was doing really well playing super-aggressively in 2008 and 2009. But then everyone started playing that style well. Everyone knew my game plan and had started to work me out. For maybe a period of six months I tried to keep going with it and out-aggro them – it wasn’t working and I went on a big downswing.

I realised that I had to try something different. It wasn’t much fun but I had to tighten up in a lot of spots. The great thing was that I was still getting paid off even though I was playing more solid. The results started to come back. You have to keep mixing your game up. You can’t keep playing the same way and expect it to work out.

Why did the games get so much harder and more aggressive?
People started playing more tables so they didn’t care as much about old concepts like tournament life. There was just so much more information out there too, such as training videos. That was a big part of it because a lot of well-known players were putting out content and people were copying them and having success. Before people had to guess what was right and do their own thing. It’s impossible now to play as many hands as you used to profitably.

After winning over $11m online how do you still get motivated to play a $22 freezeout online?!
It’s definitely not as exciting as when I first started playing, but that’s only natural. I still find it exciting, only I wouldn’t play a session now if I didn’t want to. Back in the day I would just keep registering for six days in a row, even when I didn’t want to play, just because I felt like I had to get those Pocket Fives points. It’s healthier [what I do now] and I don’t think about poker 100% of the time – only 95% of the time!

A lot of people would say you are the best online MTT player ever. Do you agree with that statement?
I’d never really call myself that but I’ve definitely had a lot of success for a long period of time. Longevity is a big thing. I’ve been through a lot of different periods and had to change up my game. Over the years it’s been a challenge to carry on winning. You have to put a lot into it and make a lot of sacrifices. There are definitely players out there who have the same ability as me, or maybe even better, but they didn’t have the same dedication.

The best players in the world have generally been regarded to be high stakes cash game players. As an MTT star do you sometimes feel you don’t get the respect you deserve?
The best cash game players are better than tournament players – they are better at playing postflop. Even in an event like the WCOOP main event they have an edge. That’s a tournament but it plays like a cash game because it’s very deep stacked. Even if you’ve had a lot of success in tournaments you’re still going to be in a coffin if Phil Galfond is put on your left!

If tournament players were actually better than the cash game players they would just go and play in all of those big cash games as well. You can potentially win a million in one day, so why wouldn’t you? 

Why did you decide to focus on tournaments instead of cash games?
I tried playing cash games but I had the wrong attitude. Every time I won a couple of buy-ins in a session I would just quit and think that was enough for the day. On the other hand if I was losing I would just keep on playing and think that I had to get out of the hole and get back to even. It was a bad mindset.

Then I got into tournaments and it felt more sociable – you could grind with friends whereas with cash games it was more you on your own. With tournaments there is a schedule and all you have to do is click register.

Are you ever tempted to try and beat the highest stakes cash games online?
It scares me because I know I have an addictive personality. I haven’t played cash seriously in a long time so I would have to come in at a lower level and grind it out. Then I think I would want to grind all the way, but in cash games you can just keep grinding higher and higher stakes, until you finally lose it all. There aren’t that many players that are winning consistently up at the top. I think I would definitely be a Viktor Blom kind of player –I’d play anyone at the higher levels and set myself up to potentially lose!

Look out for part two of our Chris Moorman interview tomorrow!

You can get Moorman’s Book of Poker from or now!

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