2008 World Series: The Team Moneymaker experience
There were two parts to Chris Moneymaker's master class this afternoon. The first related to 15 guys and gals who had won their seat to the world series in a $39 Moneymaker satellite - the same amount that Chris himself spent to win his seat five years ago. The second part of the session related to a young guy by the name Donald Hobbs. It's a story worth telling.
Back in February 2007 Donald was driving his car near his home in Kentucky when he was involved in an horrific accident that caused his car to burst into flames. Donald literally dragged himself out of the wreckage, suffering 70 per cent burns. As you'd expect he still bears the scars of that day today. But there was another tragic twist to this tale.
Donald had been a haemophiliac since he was a young boy, a painful illness that prevents the blood from clotting, making any mildly adventurous pursuit potentially life threatening. The fact that he had survived the crash was a miracle in itself. That he survived despite his haemophilia was impossible to put into words.
It was during his recovery in Cardinal Hill hospital near Cincinnati that Team PokerStars Pro Chris Moneymaker entered the story. Donald's therapist Michelle Rose began playing poker with her patient, one of his favourite games, hoping it would aid his recovery.
Chris Moneymaker sharing a few tips with Donald Hobbs
A friend of hers who worked the World Series tried to get an autographed picture of his favourite player Chris Moneymaker to him. Chris was not only happy to oblige but when he heard the story of this guy from Kentucky, just a few miles over the state line from his own home in Tennessee, he did more than just send a picture. He went to see Donald in hospital and played some poker with him, playing with straws.
It was then that Chris made a promise, that if Donald was feeling better, and could handle the trip, he'd bring him to the World Series. Not only that but he'd buy him in. That's got to be a pretty good incentive to work at getting better.
Cut to the lounge at the Palms hotel where Chris is hosting a get together for the Team Moneymaker players. A mixture of veteran players and rookies here to pick up a few tips from a man who knows what he's talking about.
"I don't want to change how anyone plays. I just want to help you get through day one" he said, before starting with the basic. Like, was anyone nervous? Two people raised their hands...
"That's two honest people in the room then..!"
So with the help of Bill Chen, some last minute instruction began - the results of which we'll learn in the next two days. As for Donald he looked a little in awe of it all - the time spent with Chris, the opportunity right around the corner to play in the biggest game in town.
Chris Moneymaker getting things started
"Chris taught me a couple of things, gave me some advice" said Donald. "We practiced for 30 or 40 minutes a few days ago and it was awesome! I was figuring things out and when we played a few hands together I even caught him bluffing, he was like "there ya go!"
Donald had played with friends at home before this but never against professionals, especially those he'd seen on TV.
"I played a game with Chris and Doyle Brunson and won $50. It was great! I lost it the next week of course!"
Sounds like a guy getting the hang of things.
His brother Dwayne, watching in the wings, who has spent most of his life looking after his brother, described him as a rebellious kid from Kentucky.
"This has really pushed him to get better" said Dwayne. "His attitude has changed and he's made real improvements. This has really pushed him to get better."
We hope so. Donald is one determined guy. We wish him and the rest of Team Moneymaker good luck when they take their day 1 seats this weekend.