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Poker Stories Podcast – Chris Moneymaker

by Julio Rodriguez |  Published: Aug 29, 2018

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Poker Stories is a long-form audio podcast series that features casual interviews with some of the game’s best players and personalities. Each episode highlights a well-known member of the poker world and dives deep into their favorite tales both on and off the felt.

Age: 42
Born: Atlanta, Georgia
Live Tournament Earnings: $3.6 million

Top Five Tournament Scores

Date Tournament Place Winnings
May 2003 WSOP Main Event 1st $2,500,000
March 2011 NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship 2nd $300,000
March 2004 WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star Main Event 2nd $200,000
Jan. 2011 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Main Event 11th $130,000
Aug. 2009 World Poker Open 3rd $60,110

Chris Moneymaker forever changed the poker world when his win in the 2003 World Series of Poker main event helped to spark a boom. The accountant from Tennessee with the prophetic last name bested Phil Ivey and Sam Farha on his way to a $2.5 million payday, and a lasting endorsement deal with PokerStars. Although he doesn’t play much during the summer anymore, Moneymaker has still managed to rack up some big scores in the years since, finishing runner up in the WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star and in the NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship, as well as making a deep run in the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure main event.

Now 42 years old, Moneymaker is getting his own tour from PokerStars. The online poker site is partnering with casinos from around the U.S. to send players to the $25,000 buy-in, PokerStars Players Championship at the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas this January. For just $86, players on the Moneymaker PSPC Tour have a chance to win a $30,000 prize package that will be added to the prize pool at each stop.

Highlights from this interview include Hall of Fame worthiness, getting your own tour, was it $39 or $86?, fake Moneymaker prostitution charges, an easy summer schedule, playing with Jack Keller and giving back to the fans, the perfect amount of fame, getting impromptu rap performances from the rail, moving out of the city, being the ‘dumbest guy in the room,’ adjusting to life after the main event win, living under Peyton Manning, finding the eye of the tiger, and stacking Ben Affleck in a cash game.

The Highlights

On his worthiness for the Poker Hall of Fame…

“(Is this the year that Chris Moneymaker gets in?) No, I don’t think so. I think if I get into the Poker Hall of Fame, it will be 20 years down the road. I don’t think it’s going to be any time soon. Daniel [Negreanu] put out a piece, when I was first up for it, basically listing the qualifications for the Poker Hall of Fame, and I didn’t fit most of the criteria, especially in his eyes. He actually came up to me and said, ‘Hope you weren’t upset about the piece,’ and I couldn’t care less. The Poker Hall of Fame has zero bearing… I mean, Mike Matusow obviously wants to be in the Poker Hall of Fame. He got on Twitter and said, ‘Vote for me, yada, yada, yada.’ I’m the exact opposite. That has zero bearing on my life. I don’t see in any realm of my life where that’s going to be relevant to anything that I do. I’m never going to campaign [for it]. It’s always nice to be respected by your peers and all that stuff, but at the same time, a lot of this stuff is subjective. I know what I’ve done. I know what my history is in poker. I just want to try and be the best ambassador that I can, and if I get something, a reward for that later, then [so be it.]”

On dealing with his celebrity status…

“I tell people all the time that I think I have the perfect amount of fame. If I want to not be recognized or do the picture thing, I can stay at home (Mississippi). I’m fortunate enough, that I have a face that’s not [that] recognizable. People see me and the common response is, ‘I know you from somewhere.’ They can’t really place where they know me from. They recognize me, but they just don’t know from where. Whereas if you are [Phil] Hellmuth or [Daniel] Negreanu, or even a football player or basketball player… If I’m a 6’5’’ basketball player, I’m going to stick out when I walk into a room. If I’m walking into a restaurant, nobody is even going to look up. I can’t tell you how many times back in the day, when I would be sitting in a restaurant, and not a soul would come up to me. I’ve got a lot of doppelgangers out there. I’ve had probably ten people come up to me in the last two years saying that they get mistaken for me all the time. 14 years ago, there was a guy out there that was so good, he even threw my mom off. He ended up using my name when he was busted for [soliciting] a prostitute.”

On felting Ben Affleck in a cash game…

“The biggest pot I ever won was against Ben Affleck, a long time ago. I had a flush, and he had three fours. I don’t want to say the number, but it was a big pot. And it was pretty cool, obviously, because it happened to be against a famous actor. We were at the Palms. It was a fun night. This was back when the Palms had a small room, about four or five tables. We played on the back table. In that game it was Tobey Maguire, Ben Affleck, Vince Van Patten, myself… There were two [other] actors there that I didn’t really know. But it was a weird night, because we were sitting there, just playing $5-$10 no-limit, and all of sudden, Ben Affleck and all these guys walk in, and it was like, ‘okay, we’re going to step this up to $50-$100 and we’re going to play some poker.’ I broke the game at four in the morning. Ben moved all in on the river and I called him. He finished his bag of McDonalds and said, ‘Alright, I’m going to bed.’”

You can check out the entirety of the interview in the audio player at the top of the page or download it directly to your device to play on the go from iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, Spotify, or your favorite podcast app.

Catch up on past episodes featuring notables such as Daniel Negreanu, Nick Schulman, Barry Greenstein, Michael Mizrachi, Bryn Kenney, Justin Bonomo, Mike Sexton, Brian Rast, Scott Seiver, Freddy Deeb, Joe Cada, Maria Ho, and many more. If you like what you hear, be sure to subscribe to get the latest episodes automatically when they are released.