2008 PCA: Making moves with Moneymaker

During the last break in play -- a luxurious whole ten minutes -- I took a quick breather in my hotel room, flicking on the TV and taking my mind off the game.

Well, it was a nice idea.

Instead, a quick flick round the channels ended up on ESPN, where Chris Moneymaker was sitting around the feature table during day one of the 2007 World Series. In a segment lasting no more than about five minutes, the announcers mentioned the phrase "poker boom" somewhere in the region of ten times, while Moneymaker's table-mates asked him a few questions that I fancy he's heard one or two times before.

"What was going through your mind when you pulled that bluff on Sammy Farha?" for instance. Then, "Did they redesign the bracelet after you won it?" and "Are you going to win the World Series again this year?"

In his studio interview, Moneymaker went through it all one more time: some people say he was lucky to win in 2003; that the doubters will never go away; that it doesn't let it bother him, he just plays his game.

Downstairs, in the Grand Ballroom of the Atlantis Hotel, Chris Moneymaker was doing just that. He was playing his game at the PCA. And although, like he says, those doubters will always be there, Moneymaker plays a pretty good game.

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After folding a couple of hands, the Team PokerStars Pro member fired out a pre-flop raise of 1,600, which was called in the small blind. No surprise. Moneymaker also mentioned in his television interview how he has to assess the other players these days.

"I have to figure out whether they're just trying to make a move on Chris Moneymaker," he said. "Or are they trying to win the tournament."

In this instance, the flop came eight high, with two clubs. The small blind took a stab, flicking his wrists to deposit 4,100 chips in the pot. This, the former World Champ decided, might have been one of those moves. Moneymaker found two blue chips and made it 10,000. Fold.

Two hands later, a similar story. Moneymaker raised pre-flop from mid-position; he was called in three spots. This flop came ace high, checked to Moneymaker, he bets 3,700. Fold, fold, fold.

It's difficult to know whether anyone had anything, Moneymaker included. But there was only one player making the moves, and he picked up all the chips.

The former World Champ has about 42,000 at the end of the level, a little above the average.