Family time

As most of you know my Dad passed away in March. I had written earlier this year about his health troubles and how I know a lot of people remembered Dad from the TV coverage of the 2003 WSOP. I wanted to say thanks to everyone for all of the many well wishes and thoughts. I really appreciated all of the tweets and messages, as did my family.

After taking a couple of weeks to spend time with family, I'm now mostly just focused on keeping busy, playing and trying to improve my game as I get ready for upcoming events including the WSOP.

This year I've been playing a lot of smaller circuit events, including several Hollywood Poker Open tournaments and a recent WSOP Circuit stop in Cherokee, North Carolina. Those have been fun and have gone reasonably well -- I won one of the HPO tournaments, in fact, in St. Louis. Bu now I'm back on the European Poker Tour Grand Final in Monte Carlo. I did play the PCA earlier this year, but it's been awhile and so I'm excited to get back into "PokerStars mode."

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Speaking of PokerStars, during this stretch of playing smaller tournaments here in the U.S., I obviously haven't been able to play real money games on the site, but I have been getting into some of the play money games on Players can now purchase play money chips and one result of that has been there have now developed some pretty challenging games at the higher play limits.

In fact, once you get up to the 500k/1m or 1m/2m range on the play money tables, the game plays surprisingly similar to regular online cash games. At the lower levels, it's sometimes a push-fest with everyone calling and not a whole lot of real skillful play. But once you move up to those higher ring games or tourneys with 9m buy-ins, people really take it seriously. They've either worked their way up from the lower stakes or have spent money acquiring these play chips, and so players are really trying and there are some genuinely challenging games there.

I was surprised to see that, to be honest, but it's been great because it's helped me work on my six-max, heads-up, and tournament games. They have Zoom play money games, too, so as far as hold'em is concerned they've pretty much got everything I need on the play money side to help me keep in practice and current. And even though the play money games aren't quite as strong as real money games, there are certain aspects to online poker that are always going to be different from live poker, so I really like being able to keep in practice. When I go to Monte Carlo for the EPT, for example, I'll be sticking around Monaco for two extra weeks to play SCOOP and it helps a lot to have been playing online during these months I've been in the U.S.

Another way I've been keeping busy has been that I'm again working with ESPN on a radio show that we're hoping to come out with sometime this year. It's something that has been in the works for a while, and in fact we did a little trial about a year ago that went well.

The idea will be to do a podcast that aims toward helping grow the game of poker and introduce it to a wider audience. I've been fortunate my whole career to be able to connect with recreational players and that's kind of where the show will be coming from -- to be all about having fun with poker and showing why it's such a great game. We won't be talking heavy strategy, but will be focused more on lifestyle-type discussions with interviews and interesting conversations about the game.

We had a lot of positive feedback on that trial last year, and so once we get the format pinned down I'm looking forward to getting the show started. I'm thinking of committing to six months' worth of shows to start out, just to get a feel for the time commitment and how it goes. We'll have some giveaways and training modules and other associated content, so it's pretty exciting. We'll work on it more during the WSOP and then hopefully roll it out in the fall, so stay tuned.

So that's how I've been keeping busy. The trip to Monte Carlo and Monaco will last through mid-May, and then after that hopefully we'll have some sort of family vacation before the WSOP starts. And then as usual I'll only be playing three or four events during the beginning, then go back home before returning for the Main Event. It's summer time and school is out, so I'll want to be home to spend more time with the family.

Chris Moneymaker is a member of Team PokerStars Pro

Chris Moneymaker
@PokerStars in Chris Moneymaker