30 for 30 Podcast Recalls the Moneymaker Boom

30 for 30 Podcast Recalls the Moneymaker Boom

In May of this year, Chris Moneymaker celebrated the 15th anniversary of his World Series of Poker Main Event victory. The tournament at the 2003 WSOP in Las Vegas changed his life, not only with the $2.5 million first-place prize, but the sponsorships and opportunities that stemmed from the win.

At the same time, PokerStars celebrated Moneymaker’s victory. Not only had the Tennessee-based accountant won his seat into the WSOP Main Event through an online poker satellite on PokerStars, he signed a long-term sponsorship with PokerStars after his win that continues to this day. PokerStars quickly rose to become the largest poker site in the world and has remained in that position ever since.

The anniversary was also one for the poker world to celebrate. Moneymaker’s win has been widely regarded as the start of the poker boom, the era of poker that comprised the better part of the 2000s in which poker operators thrived, entrepreneurs found business opportunities, and poker players won more money than in any other time in the game’s history.

Since the 15th anniversary year is still in progress, it was only fitting that an extremely well-done podcast would be released to tell the story of Moneymaker’s win. This particular episode in the 30 for 30 Podcast series – “All-In: Sparking the Poker Boom” – was put together by ESPN Films and ESPN Audio.

How It All Happened

The episode of the 30 for 30 Podcast about the 2003 WSOP Main Event comes from a likely source, as ESPN covered the tournament that year and every one since. It focuses on the one tournament that captured everyone’s attention – and still does each year – that is the $10,000 buy-in No Limit Hold’em Main Event, the same one that is preparing to celebrate its 50th anniversary next year.

Moneymaker’s victory in 2003 turned the poker world upside-down. Not only did an unknown player survive a sizeable field of players to win, he used a combination of skill and luck, made some great calls and some mistakes, and it all started with a small buy-in online satellite that he won to capture the $10K seat at a bargain price of less than $100. His moment of victory was shared with his father as the event stunned the poker world but captured the attention of those outside that world.

An accountant from Tennessee won $2.5 million. He was an unlikely champion that prompted everyone with even the slightest interest in poker feel that they, too, could win life-changing money and become a world champion.

Keith Romer narrated the story for the podcast, which spans just under one hour, and captures the feel of the event from various perspectives, including the producer of the WSOP broadcast for ESPN, poker pros like Johnny Chan, and Moneymaker himself.

Listen to the podcast and/or read the transcript here.

PokerStars Still Celebrating

It was no surprise that PokerStars wanted to do more to commemorate the 15th anniversary of Moneymaker’s win with more than a blog post or two. PokerStars started months ago by launching the Moneymaker PSPC Tour, a chance for players across the United States to compete in affordable buy-in tournaments with Moneymaker himself.

Each tournament in the series was set up with an $86 buy-in, which was the price of the satellite Moneymaker won to set his WSOP journey in motion in 2003. The tour was also set up to award each winner a Platinum Pass to the PokerStars Players No Limit Hold’em Championship (PSPC) set for January 2019 in the Bahamas. The idea is to set players up to start with just $86 and possibly win the PSPC for millions of dollars, replicating Moneymaker’s win, sorta, more than 15 years later.

The Moneymaker PSPC Tour just wrapped this month, but the tournaments were reportedly a major success. And the event winners will gather in the Bahamas in a few months with Moneymaker cheering them on – and competing against them.


About Jennifer Newell

Jennifer began writing about poker while working at the World Poker Tour in the mid-2000s. Since then, her freelance writing career has taken her from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and back to her hometown of St. Louis, where she now lives with her two dogs. She continues to follow the poker world as she also launches a new subscription box company and finishes her first novel. Jennifer has written for numerous publications including PokerStars.com and has followed the US poker and gaming market closely for the last 15 years. Follow Jen on Twitter

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