Chris Moneymaker’s Life: Net Worth, Losses and Private Life

– General Introduction –

Chris Moneymaker wearing sunglasses and headphones
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Chris Moneymaker is an American professional poker player. He was born November 21, 1975 in Atlanta, Georgia.

He is the poker player that has been the most significant for the poker industry. He was an accountant and had never played live poker before. His name and story of getting into the biggest poker tournament in the world through a $40 (sub-)satellite, created immediate hype around him and he became the unlikely winner of the 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event for $2.5M, kicking off a massive boom for the poker industry that is commonly known as the “Moneymaker Effect”.

– Key Career Dates –

  • 2003: He wins the WSOP Main Event for $2.5M.
  • 2004: He finishes 2nd in the $5k WPT Bay 101 for $200k.
  • 2008: He wins the $1k APPT NLHE event for $35,841.
  • 2011: He finishes 2nd in the $25k NBC Heads-Up Championship for $300k.
  • 2014: He wins a $1.8k NLHE event in St.Louis for $36,259.

– Chris Moneymaker’s Career –

→ Beginnings ←

Chris Moneymaker was born in Georgia but grew up in Tennesse. His family name “Moneymaker” came from his ancestors who had actually been making silver and gold coins.

His father enjoyed gambling and taught Chris how to play BlackJack. Chris himself called his love for it “the gambling gene” and it turned into a sports betting addiction soon enough during university in Tennessee. But he pulled himself back out of a big hole, finished his degree in accounting, got married and had a baby on the way.

He played little poker while he was a traveling accountant, and after he lost his accounting job due to 9/11, he spent more time playing. Even when he found a new job as a comptroller that wasn’t very fulfilling, he kept playing poker.


Chris Moneymaker playing poker
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→ Live Tournaments ←

Moneymaker has $3.9 million in love tournaments cashes, according to his Hendon page. Evidently, most of that money comes from his famous WSOP Main Event win from 2003.

As for results outside the WSOP, he took 2nd place for $200,000 in the $5,200 WPT Bay 101 No Limit Championship in March 2004.

In March 2011, he finished runner-up in the $25,000 NBC National Heads-up Championship for $300,000. He lost the heads-up battle for the title to 8-time WSOP bracelet winner Erik Seidel.

→ World Series of Poker ←

In April 2003 he joined a $40 online tournament on PokerStars that he thought was for cash. He said had he realized it was a (sub-)satellite, he wouldn’t have played it. He didn’t really know how to play live poker and he didn’t actually want to win the seat to the World Series Of Poker in the next $86 satellite. He wanted to rather get the $8k for 4th than one of the three seats to the Main Event.

But he did manage to win the tournament and get the $10k seat. He sold 50% and so had actual $5k in his pocket to make him feel better, took a week off work and travelled to Las Vegas, thinking he was going to get crushed with no chance of actually doing any good in the event.

His goal was just to make Day 2 and maybe get a min-cash of $17k later on, which would have made a massive difference for his financial situation. He did not just make Day 2, but he also managed to survive it and show up on Day 3, creating waves by eliminating Johnny Chan from the tournament. He kept on applying the right amount of aggression and luck to knockout more seasoned pros going into the final day.

When Chris ended up heads-up against the legend Sam Farha, he just wanted it over with and asked to chop the money. Farha famously declined the deal and Chris took this as disrespect towards himself and his game. It was on!

Chris pulled of an epic bluff and shortly after ended up winning the event, earning him $2.5M. As it happened, PokerStars offered Chris a sponsorship deal, traveling and promoting the site and the game. His wife did not agree with this lifestyle change and they got divorced. Chris gave all the remaining $800k to her, having left nothing of the $2.5M prize money.

He did start to travel the world, sharing his story of turning $40 into $2.5 Million, numbers for online poker and the World Series went through the roof and poker experiences its biggest boom, the so-called “Moneymaker Effect”.

→ Live Cash Games←

In 2007, Moneymaker appeared on the first season of the classic poker TV show Poker After Dark – however, in that episode, they were playing a Sit&Go with WSOP Main Event champions, not cash games.

In 2018, he played a session of low stakes NLHE cash game on CBS Sport’s new show Poker Night Live.

He’s also appeared on Stones Gambling Hall’s live stream, playing $2/$5 Hold’em again – later, that game was in the center of the infamous Mike Postle cheating scandal.

→ Sponsorships←

Chris had re-married and kept playing poker and being an ambassador for PokerStars and the game.

In 2020, he was supposed to be the host of the Moneymaker Tour – a reoccurring $86 buy-in NLHE tournament at PokerStar Live events around the world. Unfortunately, however, the Coronavirus pandemic has put a stop of that before it’s even started.

Chris Moneymaker playing poker wearing a flannel shirt and a black cap
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  • “Moneymaker: How an Amateur Poker Player Turned $40 into $2.5 Million at the World Series of Poker” by Chris Moneymaker
  • “The Moneymaker Effect: The Inside Story of the Tournament That Forever Changed Poker” by Eric Raskin
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