Meet Our Instructors
"I look to see how I played a hand and whether I could have gotten more money...or lost less. How would I play it differently when the situation comes up again? I continuously try to do that."
- World Series of Poker Main Event Champion, 2003
- Close to $3.5 million lifetime tournament winnings
- First online satellite winner to take down the Main Event
Chris never had it in mind to become a poker pro. Instead, business was his focus. Chris earned a Master’s degree in accounting from the University of Tennessee and went on to work as a comptroller and as a part-time employee at a local restaurant.
Then Chris saw the movie Rounders. Like many young viewers, he was inspired by the film to learn no-limit hold’em. He played live poker and also dabbled in online play from his home in Spring Hill, Tennessee. Entering an 18-person $39 online tournament, he won a slot in a major online qualifier for the Main Event. Taking down that qualifier put Moneymaker on his path to Vegas.
There was just one problem: even though he was working two jobs, he couldn’t afford either the plane ticket or the hotel room. Luckily, he was able to get backing from his father and a friend named—appropriately—David Gamble. So Chris went off to take his shot at poker greatness.
His first day at the WSOP, he caught the attention of professional sports handicapper Lou Diamond, who said that Chris was his “dark horse to win the whole tournament.” Chris later explained that he had been so inexperienced at the time that “I didn’t want to go play against the best in the world. I didn't think I had the experience—and I really didn’t.” However, the new player chose a conservative strategy “and big hands came my way when they needed to.”
Chris also wasn’t afraid to make some moves. When he was heads-up with poker pro Sammy Farha, his king-high bluff famously caused Farha to lay down what would have been the winning hand, a pair of nines.
Chris had a daughter to support, Ashley, who had been born three months before the Main Event, so he was thrilled to have the financial security that came with his $2.5 million score. But he was well aware that, as a new player, he had a lot to learn. A true student of the game, he set himself to mastering the intricacies of no-limit while joining Team PokerStars, the professional team of the online site whose satellite had catapulted him to the championship.
The champion soon proved that his win was no fluke. Some of his other poker victories include a number-two spot at a the World Poker Tour Bay 101 Shooting Stars event for $200,000, and a second-place finish in the NBC National Heads-Up Championship for $300,000.
As Chris became a more experienced player, he went on to teach the game that he had done so much to popularize. Like all successful pros, he also continues to work on his game.
“I always go back and look at my hand history and everybody else's and how they played,” he says. “I look to see how I played a hand and whether I could have gotten more money off a guy or lost less. How would I play it differently when the situation comes up again? I continuously try to do that. You just learn more as you go, whether it's pot odds, situations, position. You just have to keep learning more.”