You may not think it, but Chris Moneymaker may well be the reason you play online poker today. Back in 2003, Moneymaker won his seat at the World Series of Poker Main Event through an online tournament and took the first place prize of $2.5 million. This week ESPN released a new episode of their 30 for 30 podcast featuring Chris Moneymaker. ;All in: Sparking the Online Poker Boom; is the name of the latest episode detailing the surprising history of the 2003 World Series of Poker, and how Moneymaker overcame the odds to spark a poker boom that would forever change the landscape of the sport.
The poker boom was a period between 2003 and 2006 that saw the popularity of poker explode into the mainstream. The sport started growing in popularity during the late 90’s and early 00’s, with the creation of online poker rooms and the release of the cult hit film Rounders, which many pro players have credited as the reason they started playing in the first place. However, it wasn’t until the 2003 World Series of Poker that the poker boom was launched into full swing.
The Moneymaker Effect
This is often referred to as the Moneymaker effect. The term was coined after Chris Moneymaker, an accountant at the time and amateur poker player, won the 2003 World Series of Poker main event. Moneymaker was swept up in a whirlwind of publicity after his win, even making a guest appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. The world was captivated by the surprising success story of a 27 year old accountant who won millions in his first ever live poker tournament.
In a recent interview with ESPN, Moneymaker claimed that he was playing for fourth place in the satellite because he needed the cash, approximately $8000, to pay off bills. Moneymaker won his seat at WSOP Main event through a $86 satellite tournament on the PokerStars online poker room. He was one of 839 entrants at the 2003 World Series of Poker and went on to win the first prize of $2.5 million, becoming an overnight poker superstar.
In the weeks that followed, Moneymaker set the poker world on fire and brought the sport truly into the mainstream. Its safe to say that the world of Online Poker would not be as big as it is today without the impact of Moneymaker. He started a boom that saw an influx in dead money, sponsors, celebrity involvement and inspired a whole new generation of players to take up the sport with the hopes of living the ‘Rounders’ dream.
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After he won the WSOP Main Event, Chris quit his job and became a spokesperson for Harrah’s Entertainment, as well as PokerStars. He also started his own company called Moneymaker gaming and has authored several books including; Moneymaker: How an Amateur Poker Player Turned $40 into $2.5 Million at the World Series of Poker. Chris resides in his home state of Tennessee with his second wife and three children. He also authored a children’s book titled Bet Big to Win Big, a book that sought to teach basic life principles and mathematics.
Now, fifteen years later, Chris is still active in the poker world and is currently hosting the Moneymaker PSPC tour giving players the $86 chance to play the $25,000 Pokerstars Players No-Limit Hold’em Championship. Each tournament’s prize pool is determined by the number of entrants with PokerStars adding a non-transferable $30,000 Platinum Pass for the winner of each event.
The story of Chris Moneymaker, an amateur who took on some of the best poker players in the world at the time to win a multi-million dollar cash prize, will forever go down as one of the best stories in sports history, inspiring millions to start playing poker.
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