Chris Moneymaker

Chris Moneymaker was born on November 21, 1975. He’s a native to Atlanta, Georgia, and is best known for winning the World Series of Poker in 2003, as well as being a PokerStars sponsored Pro.

This bio is a brief look at his life, primarily the last 10 years since he’s hit the poker scene.

The Moneymaker Effect

The Moneymaker Effect is a term coined to the period following Chris Moneymaker’s 2003 Main Event win. His win showed everyone that an average guy, an accountant, could compete with the world’s best, and beat them. Above all, that you can do so with an investment of as little as $50.

His journey started with a $39, 18-man satellite. What a lot of people don’t know is that this tournament advanced him to a larger $600 satellite that Moneymaker didn’t fully intend to win. He stated in an interview that he was broke and needed money at the time, and the top 3 spots awarded seats to the Main Event. But 4th place paid about $8,000. That’s what he was aiming for.

However, his friend pushed him to earn a seat, and he did. We all know how that ended for him.

But he may not have won if it were not for his well-publicized bluff. This turned the heads up portion of the match around for Chris, who was battling Sam Farha at the time, a well-known poker player and gambler. Here is how the hand went down:

  • Farha – Qs9h
  • Moneymaker – Ks7h

The flop was 9s-2d-6s. Farha checked and Moneymaker checked behind. The turn was an 8s. Farha bet with top pair, but Moneymaker raised him with the 2nd nut flush draw and an up/down straight draw. Sam called. The river was a 3h. Farha checked and Moneymaker shoved all in. Farha tanked, but ended up folding. All Chris had was king high. [1]

That changed the momentum of the tournament for Chris. He later went on to win, with his winning hand also being one of the most watched. Here is how that hand happened.

Sam Farha raised preflop with JTo and Moneymaker called with 54o. The flop was a two-tone J-5-4, giving Farha top pair and Moneymaker bottom two pair. Moneymaker check raised the flop, and there were nearly $1 million in chips. Farha only started with 2.7 million, so he went all in. Moneymaker snapped called at that was the end of the tournament. [2]

He won $2.5 million, lots of press and celebrity status.

Lots of poker players started at this point, too. I noticed it myself. Every weekend there was a home game running. Everyone had the poker bug.

But Chris doesn’t think too much of himself, in terms of the “Moneymaker Effect” and how he contributed to the poker boom. Here are his thoughts:

“I don’t use it myself,” Moneymaker admitted when asked if he ever used the term Moneymaker Effect. “I mean, it’s not something I would ever bring up in my day-to-day life, maybe in a random interview I might say it. There were a lot of things that contributed to the boom of poker. I caught the right time and right year, and I was the right guy because I was sort of related to everybody else.”

His win had a lot to do with where poker is at now. But another factor was the NHL lockout in 2003. With no NHL games being shown, ESPN needed to fill in timeslots. They decided to show the WSOP. So I like to think that it was a combination of the Moneymaker effect, timing and luck, that ultimately skyrocketed poker to where it’s at today.

Earnings, Tournament Scores and Bracelets

Chris’ most notable tournaments include:

  • 2003 WSOP Main Event – 1st - $2,500,000
  • 2004 WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star – 2nd - $200,000
  • 2005 PokerStars WCOOP #12 – 3rd - $25,497
  • 2008 PokerStars WCOOP #5 – 6th - $139,635
  • 2013 EPT Grand Final #17 8-Game – 1st - $15,735

His overall winnings mostly come from his main event win. I like how he’s won other tournaments, too, unlike many other winners that are just 1-hit wonders. He actually has some skill, although he’ll even admit that he has plenty of room to improve, and that at one point he was lazy and didn’t work on his game at all.

What’s Chris Moneymaker Up to Today?

Chris spends half his time on the road, playing poker live and keeping up with his contractual obligations. He also managed to have his PokerStars account reinstated, so that he can play there when he’s out of the country playing live events.

The rest of his time is spent at home. He’s remarried with 3 kids. He and his previous wife divorced, due to their differences in opinion of his new lifestyle.

Other than family, Chris does charity work. He’s also working on numerous projects. For example, he has a partnership with Blue Shark Optics, where he has his own signature line of glasses. He also holds poker coaching camps throughout the US about 3-4 times per year, with that expected to increase during 2013. Chris also hosts a radio show for ESPN – Cleveland Poker Radio.

Chris doesn’t play poker nearly as much as he used to. He’s mentioned in several interviews that he’s not a fan of the lifestyle, having to play odd hours since that’s when the best cash games run. That’s partially why he’s started up several businesses and projects, so that he’s got something else to ‘hang his hat on.’

5 Facts About Chris Moneymaker

Here are 5 facts about Chris Moneymaker.

1. Chris had a daughter, Ashley, just weeks before winning the satellite to the Main Event. Due to him being on the road all the time, his divorce and disagreement with his now ex-wife, he decided it was best for his ex-wife’s (new) husband to adopt her. Chris doesn’t see her anymore.

2. Chris wrote an autobiography in 2005. It’s titled: Moneymaker: How an Amateur Poker Player Turned $40 into $2.5 Million at the World Series of Poker

3. At one point Chris had a gaming company, named Moneymaker Gaming. They sold high end poker chip sets with licenses from Nascar, Playboy and West Coast Customs.

4. Chris Moneymaker was on Twitter for two years before Doyle Brunson followed him.

5. 2013 marks the 10-year anniversary of Moneymaker winning the WSOP Main Event.