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Darvin Moon’s Big Purchases after the World Seres of Poker -- A Farm and Some Pickup Trucks

Last Year's Runner-up Sits Down with Card Player


Darvin MoonHow would $5 million change your life?

For Darvin Moon and his wife Wendy, it doesn’t appear to have changed it all that much. Both still work full-time at the same jobs, they still live in the same home, and they aren’t throwing around that money before putting in a great deal of thought about it first.

In the past decade, the poker world has produced some colorful characters, but out of last year’s main event came one of the most memorable. Moon, a self-employed logger who was far more comfortable with a chainsaw in his hand than in front of a camera answering questions, rose to the chip lead of the world championship of poker despite being a self-described amateur.

He eventually finished in second place to Joe Cada, but while Cada in many ways resembled a large portion of the poker community — the young, online crowd — Moon stood out for his common-man demeanor, self-deprecating attitude, and his aversion to online poker (admitting he had never once played online).

Moon and his wife sat down with Card Player to talk about their lives now — what’s changed, what’s stayed the same, and what they’ve done in the past 12 months.

Still in the Woods, Still Working

Moon almost didn’t play the main event last year. After winning his seat in a $130 satellite in a West Virginia casino, he nearly decided to take the money and invest it into his small family-run logging business. But after getting some encouragement from his brother, Moon decided to play.

“I’ve always been poor. I can be poor after this,” Moon said his line-of-thinking was at the time. But thanks to a seemingly endless stretch of good cards and some well-timed moves, the logger from Maryland pretty much ensured that he and his wife would be set for the rest of their lives after he won nearly $5.2 million for his runner-up finish in the 2009 main event.

Darvin Moon and Joe Cada“After you pay taxes, it’s really not that much money if you live a different lifestyle than I live, but we’ve lived on 20 to 25 thousand dollars a year for 26 years. I can now live the rest of my life comfortably,” said Moon. “I’m [still] working because my whole family was raised that way.”

For 10 to 12 hours a day, Moon works for his logging business. He admits that these days he doesn’t spend as much time in the forest (only about 20 hours a week now) and less time dealing with a chainsaw (he decided to hire someone else to handle the chainsaw), but he’s still working with the same people even though he doesn’t really need to keep the company going for his own financial well-being.

Part of the reason he’s kept the business going is out of loyalty to his employees, saying they’ve been there for him over the years and he just wouldn’t feel right closing up shop now.

“I’ve had guys who worked for me who kept me alive the first 25 years, and I can’t just tell them, ‘You don’t have a job,’” said Moon. “So I just keep working.”

In fact, even while he’s been in Las Vegas for the 2010 main event, Moon has spent a lot of time on the phone for his job after a truck carrying a load of his lumber went off the road and into a ditch.

“You’ve got to be concerned about it. I was on the phone with them,” said Moon. “The main thing is the driver’s all right. We can replace everything else.”

Moon declared last year upon reaching the final table that even if he won the main event, you probably wouldn’t seem him until next year’s tournament. Indeed, he has only been back to Las Vegas twice — once for the NBC National Heads-up Poker Championship and once for a charity poker tournament to help those who suffer from cerebral palsy.

In 2010, he declined to play any preliminary events at the World Series, deciding once again to come just for the main event. Today, he takes a healthy chip stack of 78,400 into Day 2B.

In fact, in the past 12 months, he’s probably played even less poker than the year before.

“I haven’t been playing that much back home. Everybody wants to ask questions,” said Moon. “You just don’t get no peace.”

Some Pickup Trucks and Some Properties

The Moons haven’t changed their day-to-day life too dramatically, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t spent any of that $5.2 million.

“I bought my mom and dad a Chevy Traverse for their 50th wedding anniversary, I bought my father-in-law a new Chevy pickup, I bought my uncle who took care of my grandma for her last 12 years a new pickup, and I bought myself a new pickup and my wife a new vehicle,” said Moon. “Other than that, I’ve bought some properties.”

In total, he bought four properties in his home state of Maryland. Three of them were as investments, and he’s been spending much of the past 12 months working on them.

“I’ve got two of them ready to turn over now,” said Moon. “I did some remodeling on the houses and did some work on them so the properties are worth more, so I’m ready to turn them over once I get back from this.”

Darvin MoonThe final property Moon bought was a place he’s always wanted — the land where he grew up.

“It’s where I was born and raised, so I just bought the whole farm,” said Moon. “It’s just a place I’ve always wanted, so I bought it.”

Moon is also fixing up his current home, including adding in a new garage.

“Once I get the garage done, then I can get the corvette maybe — if she gives me permission,” Moon said, as he glanced at his wife.

“Yeah, right,” Wendy replied sarcastically.

Although the couple has inherited more money than they ever thought they would with Darvin’s poker success, they clearly keep each other level-headed about it all.

When Moon admits in the interview that he caved and finally bought his wife a new lawnmower, as well as a snow-blower so that she could take care of all the snow this winter, she shoots him a look that says ‘we’ll-talk-about-that-later, thank-you-very-much.’ Even with $5 million, they still do all the little things themselves. In short, they still are themselves.

“I don’t really think it’s changed us as people, but it’s definitely changed our lives,” said Wendy. “It changed our lives completely, but we’ve met a lot of good, new people. I’m really proud of Darvin.”

Moon said he just doesn’t understand how people can become frivolous with money.

“I don’t understand where just because you get lucky and earn this money, how do you blow it all on hey-look-at-me (stuff),” said Darvin. “If the money changes people that much, they’re phonies to start with.”

A Great Experience, and Hoping for an Encore

With a healthy chip stack in Day 2B, Moon could conceivably make the money again this year — an impressive repeat performance, considering this is just his second WSOP event ever.

Moon and his wife said that that the thing they were most pleasantly surprised with last year was the number of great people they met in the poker community. When asked who in particular Moon was really impressed with, he specifically mentioned Paul Wasicka and Jeff Shulman.

Jeff Shulman and Darvin Moon.“Paul Wasicka and Jeff Shulman were really incredible, great guys – both as players and all-around people. They are both true to themselves, and are just superb people in my book…And of course, it’s always an honor to play with Phil Ivey. Unfortunately for him, I sucked out on him,” said Moon, referencing Ivey’s elimination hand, when his ace-king couldn’t hold against Moon’s ace-queen.

Moon said he had the same goal as everybody else when it came to the main event this year.

“Everybody’s hope is to make the final table, and everybody’s dream is to take that bracelet home,” said Moon. “I feel confident I’m going to do good, but who knows?”

Editor’s Note: Darvin Moon has now been eliminated, falling in level seven on Day 2.



almost 12 years ago

How can you not love this guy?


almost 12 years ago

Truly a class act.


almost 12 years ago

Agreed. Too many insta-rich poker kids these days have no clue about the value of hard work and money, and will wind up dead or broke or both before 40.


almost 12 years ago

just a bunch of old farts penny pinching. lol jk guys i agree darvin is incredibly level headed good job moon.