Chris Moneymaker winning the WSOP Main Event in 2003 is to poker what The Beatles releasing Rubber Soul in 1965 was to guitar music.
Or, what Quentin Tarantino dropping Reservoir Dogs in 1993 was to independent cinema.
It was a generation-defining event that inspired thousands of hopeful copycats eager to follow in the same footsteps.
Chris Moneymaker’s story was just the start of the poker boom. Here he is pictured playing a “friendly game” against 2004 WSOP winner Greg Raymer (right), and 2005 winner Joe Hachem (centre)
His win couldn’t have come at a better time, what with online poker still in its infancy, and with poker gaining more prominence on TV.
Moneymaker became a celebrity.
The ‘everyman’ accountant who qualified online for a few bucks and turned it into $2.5 million was now the face of poker that everyone at home could relate to. No cowboy hat, no bratty image, no scenes opposite Matt Damon in Rounders.
Just a guy with the perfect name, winning the perfect tournament, at the perfect moment.
From there, Moneymaker signed with PokerStars and enjoyed success on the WPT (finishing second at the 2004 Shooting Stars event for $200,000). He had a close call in the NBC National Heads-up Championship (runner-up for $300,000), and has had deep runs at the PCA and several European Poker Tour (EPT) Main Events ever since.
Most recently he’s been on a tour of the U.S., handing out $30,000 Platinum Passes to a bunch of players just as green and excited as he was prior to the summer of 2003.
The EPT itself may never have taken off the way it did were it not for Moneymaker’s 2003 victory.
Suddenly everyone wanted a shot at poker success and stardom, and now thanks to online sites offering more satellites than ever, it was actually possible.
As the first major poker tour to come to Europe, the EPT discovered dozens of future poker superstars.
Throughout the years, champions like Patrik Antonius, Bertrand ‘ElkY’ Grospellier, Mike ‘Timex’ McDonald, Jason Mercier, Jens Kyllönen, Jake Cody, Liv Boeree, Toby ‘810ofclubs’ Lewis, Benny Spindler, Davidi Kitai, Steve O’Dwyer, and Adrian Mateos (just to name a few) all had their Moneymaker breakout moments when they took down an EPT Main Event.
To see the full impact of Moneymaker in 2018, you really have to look all around the world.
From South America to Asia, there are now more live poker tours, events, bigger fields, and bigger prize pools than ever before.
Moneymaker not only inspired a generation of players, but everyone involved in the poker world.
And it’s not over yet.
Go to the Moneymaker Effect homepage to read more about Moneymaker himself, and the stories that came out of that game-changing day back in 2003.