Chris Moneymaker wins 1st Prize - 2003 World Series of Poker
by Greg Cavouras  

Chris Moneymaker - 2003 WSOP Winner - Source:

It’s hard to imagine a record field, more than $20 million in prize money, and probably the most talented poker field ever assembled don’t even make the headlines when discussing the 2003 World Series of Poker. Nope, none of it is headline material; actually it’s all headline material, but this year the show was flat out stolen by Chris Moneymaker, an unknown and aptly named amateur from Tennessee. Moneymaker emerged from complete obscurity, qualifying on the strength of a $40 online satellite, to win Poker’s most sought after prize, as well as cash winnings of $2.5 million.


In stark contrast to last year’s battle of the unknowns, the big names were out in force for 2003; legends Sam Farha and Dan Harrington were both in the hunt at the final table, and Phils Ivey and Hellmuth each just missed a final table appearance. However this year was all about Moneymaker; qualifying on Poker Stars with a $40 satellite buy-in, and playing in his FIRST live tournament, Moneymaker took the Poker world by storm. And while luck was on his side at the tables, Moneymaker proved he belonged with the big boys with some incredible bluffs and reads. Perhaps none was bigger than the monster bluff he put on wiley Sam Farha; Farha held the better hand with pocket 9s, but after committing $900,000 in chips to the pot, Moneymaker made a dramatic all-in call. Houston Sammy thought long and hard, but ultimately folded his 9s that likely would have carried through to win the pot. This would prove to be Moneymaker’s turning point, as he now held a noticeable edge over Farha, who would eventually fall to Moneymaker’s miraculous full house last hand. With the action heads-up and 2.5 million on the line, Moneymaker held more than a 3 to 1 chip advantage. Moneymaker holds 4(D) 5(S) against Farha’s J(H) T(D), the flop comes J(S) 5(S) 4(C). The action goes back and forth until Farha moves all in with his top pair; Moneymaker calls immediately, and the turn comes 8(D). Only a T or a J will save Farha, and the River comes the 5(H), giving Moneymaker an unlikely full house!


This win wasn’t only a milestone for the unknown Moneymaker, but was a real coup for the entire Poker industry; it has catalyzed an explosion in the popularity of the online game, and a general buzz surrounding the game in general. Attendance once again broke all previous marks, and an incredible $20 million dollars was distributed to Poker’s champions. Look for next year to be even bigger, as the top guns of the poker world battle for supremacy!

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