• Name: Chris Moneymaker
• Nickname: Money
• Current Residence: Nashville, Tenn.
• Birth Date: November 21, 1975
• Birth Place: Atlanta, Georgia, United States
He can turn $39 into $2.5 million.
By now, Chris Moneymaker has most definitely worn out his surname.
And yes, that is his real name.
He was the kind of little boy who played bridge with grandma.
He grew to love playing blackjack with his father, but seeing the ROUNDERS movie hooked him and attracted him towards learning the Texas Hold’em Poker.
This WORLD SERIES OF POKER (WSOP) Main Event champion once led a pretty mundane life.
After achieveing his master’s degree in accounting (University of Tennessee), he spent most of his waking hours crunching numbers as an accountant, and serving it up part time at a local restaurant.
But he was not meant to live a life of mediocrity in Spring Hill, Tenn.
After all, he is born under the sign of Scorpio – these creatures have passions burning under their deceptively controlled manners.
Thus, his journey to the high rollers‘ table began with the click of a mouse.
After beating out eighteen other players in a $39 satellite, Moneymaker found himself with a seat in a qualifier for the largest and most prestigious tournament in the world of poker.
Just one victory later he had won a $10,000 buy-in for the 2003 WORLD SERIES OF POKER (WSOP) Main Event.
But his struggles didn’t end there.
Despite working two jobs, he didn’t have the money to fly to or room in Vegas, so he was forced to sell part of his entry to his father and a friend, aptly named David Gamble.
He promised them each a cut of his winnings, which turned out to be more than either benefactor expected.
After grinding out his amateur status in the opening days of the 2003 Main Event elbow to elbow with the likes of Johnny Chan, Howard Lederer and Paul Darden, Moneymaker fought his way to the final table and made it to heads-up play with seasoned pro Sammy Farha.
Moneymaker admits to having offered Farha an even chop of the combined first and second place prizes.
This was a sign of respect to be sure as Chris was enjoying a sizeable chip lead at the time of the proposition.
Perhaps Sammy read it as a sign of weakness; he turned down the deal, opting to play for the whole shebang.
Amateur or not, Moneymaker more than held his own against the veteran.
In one of the most pivotal bluffs in Main Event history, Moneymaker moved all-in on the river with nothing but king-high.
Already short at the onset of the hand, Farha had a significant portion of his stack invested by fifth street.
Despite holding top pair, Farha released the hand and the rest, as they say, is history.
Overnight, he went from “I work two jobs” to “I’m a high roller”, and celebrated victoriously by blowing $25,000 at a strip club.
To balance out his karma, he also donated $25,000 to cancer research. Needless to say, Moneymaker was living up to his moniker.
Some say Moneymaker’s win revolutionized poker.
He was the first person to become a world champion by qualifying online, and his triumph marked a resounding realization that is now quite obvious in this new age of online gambling: Anybody can become a professional poker player.
“I was a little underestimated because no one knew who I was,” he said, after winning.
“If I can win it, anybody can.”
This revelation enticed scores of new players to sign up and try to follow in the footsteps of the Tennessee accountant.
Despite his success on the felt since his big win many still regard Chris as a one-hit wonder, a fish who got unbelievably lucky to take down what was, at the time, the biggest tournament in the history of poker.
While still reigning world champion, however, he came painfully close to adding a World Poker Tour title to his list of accomplishments when he finished second to Phil Gordon at Bay 101 Shooting Stars.
He had another solid WORLD SERIES OF POKER (WSOP) cash the next year in the $5,000 Pot-Limit Omaha tournament, going bust in 10th place.
In the last few years Chris’s days have been split between his family and his position as spokesperson for PokerStars.com.
What little time he has left over is spent on the felt, both virtual and literal, as a member of Team PokerStars. He has also started his own company, Moneymaker Gaming.
Moneymaker is married and has a daughter, Ashley, who was born three months before his big WORLD SERIES OF POKER (WSOP) win.
Should his poker career continue to be successful, he would very much like to send his daughter to college.
• 2003 world champion of poker
• Spokesperson for PokerStars.com
• Member of Team PokerStars
• Graduate of the University of Tennessee
• Professional accountant
• Married with one daughter
• Authored the book Moneymaker: How an Amateur Poker Player turned $40 into $2.5 Million at the World Series of Poker