WSOP 2013: Moneymaker goes bust to introduce Day 1C
Outside a noticeably busy Amazon Room today were a variety of scenes. One involved a man of about 30, here with his wife and young daughter. He was about to cross the threshold into the Amazon Room but seemed too excited, so he hugged his wife and high fived his daughter. Then he did it again before they wished him good luck and told him to take his seat. If you go into the Amazon Room right now you can see him, floating somewhere close to the ceiling.
Inside, another player stood on the rail with his wife. About 50, he had his arm around her and she gave him a kiss before straightening the collar of his hockey shirt. She clung to him like he was about to board a ship for war. He wasn't quite ready to climb the gangplank and stood with her a little longer, taking his seat only when Jack Effel appeared on screen to make the day's introductions.
Effel was speaking from the Brasilia Room, which confused a few people in the Amazon Room looking at a lectern and hearing a voice but not seeing the person saying the words. Effel recapped the rules again before Ty Stewart stepped forward to introduce the day's front man, Chris Moneymaker.
Chris Moneymaker on screen from 2003
In contrast to the gentlemen referred to earlier, Moneymaker was relaxed, looked calm and stood towards the side of the stage with his hands in his pockets. Granted, he wasn't playing today, and could affect a more relaxed deportment, but it was also the look of a man contented, listening as Stewart talked graciously of the Moneymaker milestone, and the debt of gratitude the game owed him. After all, it had given him a job, said Stewart, which made me realise it had given me a job too.
A video played on the big screen showing the "Bluff of the century". Moneymaker, hiding his face behind glasses and a baseball cap, was all-in with nothing against an increasingly suspicious Sam Farha who right now is somewhere digging a hole. The rest of course is history - an inspired generation followed, and a life-sized bust now captures that moment in brass forever.
Moneymaker addressed the crowd, many of whom leaving their own tables in the Amazon and Pavilion Rooms to listen in.
Moneymaker, then and now
Moneymaker talked of his transformation as a player, and also as a man, able now to face the crowd now waiting on his every word, something he would have run from screaming a decade ago.
The irony is though that those of us in the poker media have never really noticed the change. Moneymaker has always been an affable, gracious player from Tennessee who knew his role was as an ambassador, and was happy to take it seriously, whether it was turning up for interviews in 2004 with a beer in his hand, or dressing up as a pirate at the PCA party last January. No doubt he has changed, but never in a way that made him anything but one of our favourites.
And so players returned to their seats inspired, with the Moneymaker shining under the lights. That shine will remain for years, not least as players rub it for luck. Us included.