After winning the 2003 WSOP Main Event as an amateur, Chris Moneymaker lit the fuse for the poker boom
Name: Chris Moneymaker
DOB: November 21st 1975
Tournament winnings: $2.99m
Greatest moment: Winning the World Series Main Event in 2003
The press had a field day when Chris Moneymaker won the 2003 WSOP main event. Not only did he have the name, he also had the story. Poker was only a hobby for Moneymaker after receiving his master’s degree in accounting from the University of Tennessee. He managed to turn $39 into a $10k WSOP seat though and then battle through a field of world class players including the likes of Johnny Chan and Howard Lederer before finding himself heads up versus veteran pro Sammy Farha. The suave Big Game regular looked to have the upper hand but the amateur Moneymaker was no rollover and, soon after a famous bluff with king high, got all the chips in the middle with two pair versus Sammy’s top pair to collect the bracelet and $2.5m.
Moneymaker’s huge achievement, all stemming from a $39 satellite win, told the world that anyone could take on the pros and make vast amounts of money from poker with little outlay. The interest in the game soon exploded to what it is today and is often referred to as the ‘Moneymaker effect’.
Chris proved his WSOP win wasn’t a fluke with a 2nd place finish in a WPT event in 2004 but has been otherwise quiet. Most of his time is now spent either with his family in Nashville or as a spokesperson for PokerStars.