Chris Moneymaker

There are few names as synonymous with modern-day poker success as Chris Moneymaker.

There are few names as synonymous with modern-day poker success as Chris Moneymaker, the then 27-year old being credited with the poker boom of the noughties when he took down the 2003 WSOP Main Event, snagging $2.5million for his first-ever live cash, having spent just $86 (or $40 in many accounts) on an online PokerStars satellite to get him there.

The ‘Moneymaker Effect’ came into being, an eponynous phrase used to describe the ensuing boom in online poker, almost every player seeking to emulate the ‘rags to riches’ formula which the Atlanta-born then-accountant employed to make it big.

His autobiography released in 2005 ‘Moneymaker: How an Amateur Poker Player Turned $40 into $2.5 Million at the World Series of Poker’ – co-authored with Daniel Paisner – relates his epic adventure in 2003, the blurb reading:

"Borrowing money to get to Las Vegas, he entered his first real-time tournament and spent the next four days battling for a top spot at the final table. Filled with everything from his early gambling ventures to a play-by-play of his major hands at the World Series of Poker, Moneymaker is a gripping, fast-paced story for anyone who has ever dreamed of winning it big."

Moneymaker went on to turn professional, hooking up with PokerStars and then-owners of the WSOP Harrah’s Entertainment, and has made more money from endorsements than from actually playing.

Although many have argued that he is far from being a top pro, Moneymaker himself has never claimed any such thing, and has steadily worked his way to almost $4million in career tournament earnings in mostly mid-stake events, with only three 6-figure paydays since his epic win heads-up against Sammy Farha when his rivered full house outgunned Farha’s 2 pair.

His personal life and poker career were heavily intertwined, Moneymaker explaining that the main reason for his first marriage failing, divorcing in 2004, was ‘me wanting to be a traveling poker pro.’

"She didn't sign up for that life. She was married to a stay-at-home accountant who was not traveling the world, gone all the time, and gambling a lot of money. And it was a choice I had to make. I tried to be good, stay at my job, and be that accountant, but in all honesty I didn't want to."

Moneymaker has a daughter from his first marriage, Ashley who born three months before he won the WSOP Main Event, and he married his current wife, Christina Wren, in Las Vegas in April 2005, the couple settling down in Nashville, Tennessee.

His travelling pro days are certainly not over, even 14 years after his memorable Main Event victory – this year 2017 seeing him play not only in the USA but also in the Bahamas, Macau and Sochi in Russia – the latter at the PokerStars Championship Live event, a 15th place finish and $30,000+ payday showing he is still a force to be reckoned with at the poker table.

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