PokerStars Festival Bucharest: A catch-up with Mr Moneymaker
He's the big name here at this year's PokerStars Festival Bucharest, and it's been a busy few days for the Team Pro and former WSOP Main Event World Champ.
From endless selfies, to press conferences and even a sit-and-go with some of Romania's most famous glitterati - there has certainly been a lot of buzz around Moneymaker's visit to the Romanian capital. Even as I was checking into the hotel, the receptionist barely even asked my name before blurting out, "Chris Moneymaker has arrived!"
And why wouldn't he be excited? After all, Chris is the man who achieved the impossible 15 years ago when he turned his $39 investment on a PokerStars satellite into a $2.5 million win at the 2003 WSOP Main Event. He's the regular guy who achieved the unthinkable, the man who ignited the poker boom and living proof that it can be done.
I had a chance to catch up with the man himself here on Day 1B in Bucharest just before lunch - but it wasn't good news for the Team Pro.
"I just busted" he tells me right away.
"I had 25, and the flop came A52. I ended up getting it all-in, but ran into a set of deuces. It just wasn't my day. I had a set of Kings earlier, against a set of Aces, and two pair against a bigger two pair - so I'd already lost half my stack at that point."
But despite lady luck not being on his side today, Moneymaker is in good spirits. He's had a fun few days here in Bucharest - one of the highlights being a nine-handed 'VIP sit and go' with some poker-loving Romanian celebrities that included a vlogger, playboy model and TV chef. I asked him if he was starstruck by anyone in particular.
"Well, I'd be lying to say I knew any of them to be honest. Although the playboy playmate did look familiar..." he laughs.
"It was a fun game though! The winner got a trip to play in the PokerStars Cup in Barcelona. About half an hour in, the guy to my right tells me he's going to 'give me a gift' by calling my all-in with 86 off. Obviously he flopped two pair and that was me gone!"
It's Moneymaker's first time in Romania, and now that he's had a taste of play here, I asked him what his thoughts were on the standard of play.
"Well - I've seen a few crazy hands let's put it that way. Four players busted before the first break with all kinds of plays - that's all you really need to know!"
But Moneymaker, who has been on the scene for over 15 years, is more than used to the swings of tournament poker.
"I played the WSOP Main Event this summer. Much like today though, I just couldn't make the best hand. It's frustrating at times, but that's the way the game goes sometimes."
But it hasn't all been bad news for Mr Moneymaker. Just earlier this year, he secured a deep run in the PokerStars Championship Sochi, with a 15th place finish.
"Sochi was great. I have a real fear of heights and they took me bungie jumping which sucked! But outside of that it was a beautiful city and I had a great time there. Getting a deep run in too was amazing. I'm looking forward to going back."
And it doesn't sound like he has plans to step away from the felt anytime soon.
"After this trip I head home and straight into another tournament. Then in October I'll go to the PokerStars Festival Dublin and obviously be playing the WCOOP online. I'll probably end up staying in Brazil for an extra week to play that directly after PokerStars BSOP. Then China in December, and the Bahamas in January..."
"So yeah, there's lots of poker coming up for me - and lots of fun!"
Stay tuned to see how Chris gets on in Day 1C later on today, as well as more interviews and live updates throughout the week.
For live updates, check in with our friends at PokerNews here.
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