I would not have a job in poker if it were not for Chris Moneymaker. In fact, there are several hundred players in today's event that would not be here in the Bahamas if it were not for Chris Moneymaker.
The eternal flame of the American Dream has dulled to a tiny flicker. Millions of lost souls found themselves sleepwalking through life, unexcited about the things, the places, and the people around them. That was until a mild mannered accountant from Tennessee by the name of Chris Moneymaker became the focal point of the gambling world. You know the Cinderella story: Moneymaker won a seat in the 2003 WSOP via a satellite on PokerStars and parlayed a $33 investment into $2.5 million.
Chris Moneymaker revitalized the American Dream. Underneath the bright lights of downtown Las Vegas, Moneymaker's run at the Horseshoe Casino in May of 2003 captivated an international audience as he busted poker greats such as Phil Ivey and Humberto Brenes. Moneymaker survived an epic heads up battle against local high roller Sammy Farha, which gave poker players at home something that had been absent from their lives for a very long time... hope.
In physical appearance, Moneymaker looks like any guy in your home game. He was clad in a PokerStars branded golf shirt and hat and wore sunglasses as he stared down the slick and cool Sammy Farha, clothed in an expensive black dinner jacket and his trademark unlit cigarette dangling from his lips. ESPN's cameras caught one of the greatest bluffs of all time from Moneymaker. It's moments like that which rattled the competitive juices inside everyone who watched. Moneymaker represented the average Joe Sixpack online poker player and he took down a Vegas shark in Farha.
Witnessing that epic feat gave thousands of other players encouragement to sit down and take a shot at the big time. Moneymaker was the snowball that launched an avalanche of online poker. Instead of working dead end jobs, today many college kids have found unique ways to generate money on the side. One of those alternative means of support is online poker. Raised in the video game age, most of the members of Generation Y easily adapt to the fluidity of online poker. Just ask ElkY, who won last year's PCA. The Team PokerStars Pro from France moved to South Korea to become a professional gamer before he made the transition into online poker.
Even though there's money on the line, poker still a game to the bulk of twenty-something players that make up most of the field in the PCA. Generation Y is also heavily influenced by television so it's no surprise that episodes of the World Series of Poker were a contributing factor to poker's popularity, particularly in the 18-35 year old demographic.
While poker's popularity was boiling over in America, the rest of the world started to catch the poker bug. When John Duthie launched the European Poker Tour, the tournaments were an instant hit. Right away, it was evident that poker was just not an American fad because players from all over the world were just as fascinated and enraptured.
Chris Moneymaker is often listed as one of the primary causes of the 21st century's poker boom. It's not so much a boom as a viral infection or an epidemic and if you play online poker or participated in the EPT, LAPT, or APPT, then you'll see the Moneymaker Effect in full force on a global scale. Poker players from the farthest corners of the world used to have to fly into Las Vegas to get their shot at fame and glory. These days, some of them do not even have to leave their own country. Alas, the Moneymaker Effect has rippled all over the globe with the expansion of a three international PokerStars sponsored tournament series and the upcoming launch of the Russian Poker Tour.
At the start of Day 1B of the PCA, Moneymaker found tennis legend Boris Becker sitting to his left. Poker's popularity in Germany is surging so it was not unusual that Becker would also catch the poker bug. Becker made an early departure from today's field and he was replaced by PokerStars sponsored player Maria "Maridu" Eduarda Mayrinck. The young Brazilian player is a perfect example of the latest wave of poker enthusiasts. Not only are more females participating in poker, but there's also an influx of other South American players.
The Post-Modern American Dream has been exported around the world as poker experienced a boom on the international scale. Poker is just not for Americans sitting around in kitchens chomping down on stale cigars and sipping cheap whiskey. Now we have Scandis wandering around through the tournament area in garish hoodies, punters from the UK sporting their favorite football jerseys, and young Americas compulsively clad in designer sunglasses and flat-billed hats.
Only a few years ago the American Dream had been flickering on the verge of extinction, but thanks to Chris Moneymaker... five and a half years after his monumental victory in Las Vegas, the dream is a raging inferno in the Bahamas.