HomeBlogUnleashing the Desert Maverick: Chris Moneymaker’s Journey from Underdog to Poker Legend

Unleashing the Desert Maverick: Chris Moneymaker’s Journey from Underdog to Poker Legend

Posted on 28.06.2023 Posted Under: News

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The quote, “I was warned that if I continued speaking in such a manner, I would end up buried in the desert” is from Moneymaker, reflecting on the poker boom two decades ago. This is part of a series of articles commemorating the 20th anniversary of Chris Moneymaker’s historic victory in the Main Event. Keep an eye out for regular pieces from Chris and special features leading up to the 54th Main Event, which is expected to be the most significant ever.

The final table of the 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event was a showcase of top-tier Texas hold’em players.

The final nine included Dan Harrington (who literally authored the definitive guide on tournament poker, “Harrington on Hold’em”), Jason Lester (a savvy professional from New York who climbed the ranks through the city’s ruthless games at the renowned Mayfair Club), and David Grey (a Las Vegas-based cash player who played at the highest stakes). It seemed one of them was destined to win the prestigious event, regardless of the initial chip counts.

However, among these luminaries, there was an underdog: Chris Moneymaker, an obscure accountant from Nashville, Tennessee. He secured his Main Event seat through an $86 buy-in tournament on the emerging website, PokerStars.

His method of entry cast doubt on his skills. At that time, professionals did not hold online poker in high regard. Steve “Z” Zolotow, a prominent player of the game, publicly stated that he equated “online player” with “fish.” No one contested this assertion.

“I was seen as an easy target,” Moneymaker confessed. “The professionals treated me as if I was intimidated.”

However, as the clock struck midnight, Moneymaker had achieved the unthinkable and no longer appeared fearful.