Moneymaker : How an Amateur Poker Player Turned $40 into $2. 5 Million at the World Series of Poker

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  • Edition: Reprint
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2006-01-01
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publications
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In 2004 the number of entrants -- and the winning pool -- at the World Series of Poker tripled, thanks in large part to Chris Moneymaker, an amateur player who came out of nowhere to win the 2003 Series, and prove to newcomers and poker pros alike that anything is possible with a chip and a chair. Moneymaker was a young accountant from Tennessee who loved to gamble but only took up cards after college. Three years later he was playing a $40 game of online Texas Hold 'Em and won a coveted seat at the 2003 World Series of Poker. 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.

Table of Contents

Day One: Morning
Easy Money
Day One: Early Afternoon
Not-So-Easy Money
Day One: Late Afternoon
Poker Star
Day One: Evening
Do Tell
Day One: Late Night
Chip Leaders: Close Of Play, Day One
Day Two
Chip Leaders: Close Of Play, Day Two
Day Three
Chip Leaders: Close Of Play, Day Three
Day Four
Chip Leaders: Close Of Play, Day Four---Final Table
Day Five
Chip Leaders: Tournament Results
The Morning Friggin' After
Afterword 215(12)
Appendix A: Crib Sheet The Relative Values Of Poker Hands 227(2)
Appendix B: Crib Sheet A Short Course On Texas Hold `EM 229(4)
Appendix C: Crib Sheet The Relative Values Of Texas Hold `EM Hands 233(2)
Appendix D: Crib Sheet The Probability Of Key Opening Hands 235(2)
Appendix E: Crib Sheet A Glossary Of Poker Terms 237


How an Amateur Poker Player Turned $40 into $2.5 Million at the World Series of Poker

Chapter One

Easy Money

At the gambling table, there are no fathers and sons.
-- Chinese proverb

First card game I ever played was bridge. Took to it pretty quick, tohear my grandmother tell the story. Said I had a real knack for it, andI guess I did, although, to tell the truth, I had a good feeling for anykind of card game. Whatever I was playing, I saw the cards betterthan most, read my opponents better than most, and knew what wascoming better than most. I'll say this: me and cards, we got along.

Bridge was my grandmother's game, and she passed it on to meand my younger brother, Jeff, as soon as we could count and fanout our own cards. We were six or seven years old and struggling tohold and play our hands, but otherwise doing a good job of it withher seventy-year-old friends. Every weekend we'd drive to mygrandparents' house on the other side of Knoxville, and before longmy grandmother or my grandfather would bring out a deck ofcards. I was usually my grandmother's partner, which I took asa high compliment, because in cards, as in most everything else,we Moneymakers liked to win. Hearts, spades, gin, cribbage -- mygrandmother taught me a whole bunch of card games, but we keptcoming back to bridge. Everything else was what you played untilyou could get a good game going -- and the good game was only asgood as your partner.

My father's games were craps and blackjack, and I took to thelatter soon enough, almost by osmosis. Craps was mostly a mysteryto me as a kid, but blackjack made a kind of perfect sense; it seemedwinnable, doable, even with the edge given the dealer. Dad playedblackjack whenever he could -- and talked about it sometimes whenhe couldn't -- and I learned by watching and listening and later onby playing head-to-head with him in low-stakes or fun-stakes tutorialsessions. I learned the game in theory, and I learned it in practice,and here again it came easy. The nuances of betting would comeover time, along with the ability to count and track cards without reallycounting and tracking cards, and the humility to realize that allthis theory wouldn't mean squat at a real table, but I understood theodds and basic betting principles right out of the gate. That's how itwas with most card games. Teach me a game and there was a goodchance I'd get it in just a couple hands, and it was better than evenmoney that I'd beat you at it before long. I don't set this out tobrag -- but hey, like I said, me and cards, we got along just fine.

Dad didn't have a regular neighborhood blackjack game or anythinglike that, but he found a whole bunch of ways to get himselfout to Vegas or Atlantic City or some other casino—most times onsomeone else's dime. He ran the motor fleet at the University of Tennessee,but back as far as I can remember, he also ran a small travelagency as a sideline, and one of the great benefits to the travel businessis the windfall of complimentary or agent-rate trips from cruiselines, resorts, and hotels looking to promote various packages. My fatherdid a lot of cruise-line business, and I recall going on a lot ofcruises during our school vacations. Every school break, or justabout, we were off on another adventure. We went to Panama Cityoften, and to Orlando, but the cruises stand out. We lived fairlymodestly -- my mother was a homemaker for most of my growingup, and we kids wore each other's hand-me-downs, and our housewasn't the biggest or fanciest by any stretch -- but we took full advantageof these vacation deals, and some of my earliest memories wereof my father, off in the ship's casino while my brother and I and soon enough our younger sister, Brandy, were skulking around the entrance,scheming our way inside. Security was usually tight on thosecruise lines, and I don't think any of us ever made it onto the casinofloor except to breeze by a slot machine and pull the handle on the fly,but that seemed to us the ultimate rite of passage. To be welcomedinto those casinos, to drink and smoke and gamble—man, that wasjust the ultimate, and we held it out there as some far-off goal.

As vices go, my family had things pretty much covered, and insuch a way that everything seemed to go hand in hand. My mother'sfamily ran a liquor store -- they still do, as a matter of fact, and we'veall taken turns helping out at the store over the years -- so I guessyou don't have to look too hard to find the source of my lifelonghobbies and extracurricular activities. Kids are drawn to what theyknow, and, growing up in my household, I knew about cards andgambling and drinking. Taken together, these hobbies can be a dangerousmix, and there were times when I was stupidly determined totake them together and prove it, but each one on its own was mostlymanageable, and I mostly managed to keep out of trouble.

For a good, long while anyway.

Outside of those weekend trips to my grandparents' house inKnoxville, and those frequent vacation perks courtesy of my dad'stravel agency, our basement was the center of my universe. It was areal magnet for me and my brother and our ever-changing group offriends. It's where I learned to shoot pool and roll dice and playfoosball, and to pit my skills against the other neighborhood kids'.I quickly realized that it wasn't enough to merely outshoot, outthink,outroll, or otherwise outplay my opponents ...

How an Amateur Poker Player Turned $40 into $2.5 Million at the World Series of Poker
. Copyright © by Chris Moneymaker. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Excerpted from Moneymaker: How an Amateur Poker Player Turned $40 into $2. 5 Million at the World Series of Poker by Chris Moneymaker
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