|by Greg Cavouras|
Easily one of the most recognizable names in the Poker world, Chris Moneymaker rose from obscurity to win the 2003 WPT No Limit Hold’em Championship. Before winning that landmark event, Moneymaker was an accountant in his native Tennessee who led a relatively simple life, earning a modest income. Now he is a celebrity and star of Poker, with a giant bulls-eye permanently tattooed on his back.
Chris’s poker career started through a satellite tournament he entered on Pokerstars.com, an online poker site. It all began with a $39 buy-in that the talented Moneymaker turned into a two and a half million dollar payday, beating out some of the world’s best poker players along the way, including a dramatic victory over legend Sam Farha. This may seem an improbable path for a rank amateur to make, but Chris’s transition wasn’t without hurdles; at time his inexperience has shown, and the poker pundits will say that he isn’t “the real deal” and that he “got lucky” in his success.
Luck or not, Chris has proven his ability to challenge the established professionals, and it has transformed his life. Away from the tables, Chris is said to be an outgoing and friendly person, and he definitely behaves as a gentleman at the tables, displaying good sportsmanship win or lose. He also gives back, as he donated a reported $25,000 to cancer research after his 2003 triumph at the WPT. At the table, Chris has a difficult style to characterize, and that is definitely one of his strengths; While not nearly as aggressive as Gus Hansen, nor as creative as Daniel Negreanu, Chris plays a very versatile game making him difficult for opponents to read.
Another strength of Moneymaker’s game is his strong instinct for reading opponents; this ability has allowed him to go in with a marginal hand because he feels secure in the knowledge he has accrued about his opponent’s hand. A memorable example of this is in 2003, with pocket threes, Moneymaker called Russ Boyd’s all-in with the board showing 9, 5, 2. “Dutch” was holding Queen/Jack, two big overcards, however Moneymaker’s 3s held up as he correctly interpreted Dutch’s play as representative of overcards, as opposed to a high pair of the board or pockets. This was an aggressive play, but is a good demonstration of Chris Moneymaker poker as he made a good read, and caught a friendly board to take out an established professional. Although it may be passed off as a lucky draw, Chris continues to show that he is no “one hit wonder” with strong showings at many tournaments. As his career progresses, Chris faces the challenge of repeatedly silencing his critics, as well as holding off the flood of amateurs who think they can beat Chris Moneymaker.
Just as he is versatile at the tables, Moneymaker has recently diversified his life by starting up his own company (www.moneymakergaming.com) and writing a book about his life detailing his incredible, improbable rise to fame. With a career as a professional poker player, millions in the bank, and exemption from the rat race at the ripe age of 27, Chris Moneymaker is an inspiration to amateur players everywhere. Oh, and in case you were wondering, Moneymaker IS his real name!