Chris Moneymaker sits in the middle of the Amazon Room looking like he could at any minute jump into a stock car and drive in the Daytona 500. He is a man of many logos. He is wearing a Team Pro badge, a PokerStars sticker, and a Blue Shark Optics logo. On his head sits an EPT Live “Everyone loves a chop pot!” hat. His shirt stands out the most of all. It’s black with various shades of chartreuse that advertise a Memphis martial arts dojo. On the back, it reads, “It pays to be a winner.”
Doesn’t Moneymaker know it.
Thirteen years ago at this time, Moneymaker became an overnight sensation after–as an amateur from Tennessee–winning the WSOP Main Event. It made him a world champion, and it also made him who he is today.
What exactly is that?
It’s a man with the ability to keep coming back, looking like a NASCAR driver, and playing the game he loves. That’s what being a winner means.
This is a much different era of poker. Thirteen years ago when Moneymaker won his championship, the NASCAR era of poker wasn’t even a twinkle in poker players’ eyes. Within a couple years, poker events were trying to figure out how to keep players from flooding the TV screens with logos. Tournament organizers started measuring patches, prohibiting hats, and finding any way to try to control the endorsement messaging.
Since then, poker has seen the endorsement game go through its own evolution. Gone are the days when the halls of the Rio were packed with agents looking to scoop up the next featured table player. Gone are a majority of the big money online poker sponsorships. Nevertheless, Moneymaker abides.
Today, however, has been harder. He’s folded the nut straight on a flushed board. He’s gone 0-2 with kings and been down as low as 10,000 in chips.
“It’s been a boxing match,” he said just before the last break.
Still, he’s battled his way back to 40,000. That’s 40 big blinds and out of the danger zone for the moment. It’s no small relief for Moneymaker as he tries to survive another day in an event that owes its colossal size partly to him.
“Thank God it’s the Main Event. It’s a good structure,” he said. “I’d have been busted out of any other tournament.”
It’s a mature patience that’s keeping him alive today. More than a decade after turning the poker world on its head, Moneymaker is still here and patched up.
Win or lose today, Moneymaker–with 13 years as a pro in the game–knows one thing for sure: It pays to be a winner.
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