Chris Moneymaker

by snoopy
Submitted by: snoopy on Tue, 02/01/2007 - 10:34pm

After failing to conduct my interview with Chris on two separate occasions (once he slept in, the other PokerStars overran), I was beginning to believe that I would never get to see, never mind converse with the man that many contribute the ‘Poker Boom’ to.

But alas, after waiting in the pressroom for a near 30 minutes, in strode a dishevelled Chris Moneymaker – hair up in arms, bags under his eyes, a slight zombie like walk – this was a man who’d been playing poker all night! And, after just a few minutes of conversation, I soon realised what Chris Moneymaker was all about.

Casually seated at an angle with his head leaning against the wall, it was obvious that Chris had conducted more than the odd interview, but although the constant questioning is surely becoming a tedious chore, he was more than willing to answer questions to the fullest, and with each answer came a sense of honesty where you knew you were receiving a truthful response.

What struck me as most bizarre, however, was his total brushing aside of any post-WSOP pressure and his overwhelming confidence in his own game. He doesn’t care what people think, he just plays his game, and if everyone thinks he is a fluke or a flash in the pan, then so be it. He believes he is good, he’s winning money and that’s all that matters to him. It’s a face of Chris that is often misinterpreted as surliness, but, in reflection, it’s an attitude and self-belief that many of us would perhaps love to possess…

snoopy: Do you notice any major differences between your European and American opponents?

Chris Moneymaker: It’s not something I worry about too much, I just focus on playing my own game, whoever my opponent is. I do have trouble reading some of the Europeans though as I don’t play them too often. The Scandinavians can be quite tricky at times, but I’ve come up against many young aggressive American players, so it’s not a style that is completely foreign to me.

snoopy: What is the worst thing about being World Champion?

CM: The worst thing about being World Champion is losing all your privacy. Relationships, money, where you’re going to be at a certain time – all this becomes public news once you win the Main Event.

In terms of actually playing, the biggest difficulty is in people refusing to lay down hands and wanting to call you on every street. When I'm playing a bad player I need a better hand, whereas against a good player, my hand doesn't matter as much. This means that I need to be extra careful when I bluff as most of the time I’ll get called. With myself, Joe and Greg, either we go bust early or we tend to get a load of chips.

snoopy: Did the pressure of being a WSOP winner affect you in other big events or do you believe that it was a benefit? How did you deal with this added pressure?

CM: No, it doesn’t bother me at all. The lack of privacy is a pain, but at the tables, I don’t mind the attention because it puts more pressure on my opponents who aren’t used to having a camera crew and photographers at the table. I’m used to it now, in fact, I like the added pressure of the cameras. I honestly don’t get nervous anymore.

snoopy: What about WSOP 2004 the following year?

CM: Nah, no worries. I screwed that one up myself, regardless of the pressure of being reigning champion. I’d finalled in one of the side events the night before and went out drinking to celebrate. Come the Main Event, I was hung over and so didn’t perform to the best of my ability.

snoopy: At this year’s WSOP, would you have like to have seen them cap the number of players or increased the buy in or do you prefer to play in a large field with a higher concentration of weaker players?

CM: I’m happy to see the number of players keep rising. Personally, I prefer the bigger fields as I think it suits my game better. Plus, there is likely to be more weak players and therefore a better chance of building a big stack quickly. To be honest, I’m more into cash games than tournaments.

snoopy: Do you play more cash then and do you consider yourself to be a good cash game player?

CM: Yeah, probably too much, I was up till 7am last night playing at the cash tables.

Am I good? I reckon I’m up there, I’ve made plenty of money playing cash and it’s something I enjoy more. People only see me when I’m playing tournaments on TV and in the big comps, so they don’t know how I fair in the side events and in cash games, but I reckon I do pretty well for myself. I think my game is strong.

snoopy:  Who is the toughest opponent you have ever come across?

CM: That’s pretty easy, it’s gotta be Johnny Chan. I might have taken him out in 2003, but he’s still one of the greatest and I don’t mind confessing that I can’t read or play him.

snoopy: With the recent bill being passed by congress, do you worry that the number of sponsored players will decrease dramatically? What impact would it have on you if PokerStars dropped their sponsored players as a result?

CM: I’m afraid I’m going to have to take the Fifth Amendment on that one.

snoopy: What is the most important thing you have learned about the game since winning the World Series?

CM: After winning the World Series of Poker, I realised I didn't know half as much as I should about poker. I’m still learning today.

snoopy: If there were one thing that you could change in poker what would it be?

CM: The biggest problem in poker is the lack of a consistent set of rules that can be enforced worldwide. I mean you go to one place and they have a certain rule, and then you go to another venue, and they do it completely different. With so many different forms of the same rules, it’s hard to keep up sometimes and work out if what you are doing is within the rules or not.

snoopy: If you could steal the skill of one player, what would that skill be and which player would you choose?

CM: I wish I were able to calculate the mathematical side of poker a lot quicker like some of the great mathematicians. Chris Ferguson comes to mind, but I don’t think I would ever analyse the games like those guys, it’s not really my style.

snoopy: Tell us something about yourself that our readers wouldn’t know.

CM: Maaan, that’s a tough one, people pretty much know everything about me already. Er… I suppose you might not know that I got divorced after the World Series, but I bet you don’t really care. Ah well.

snoopy: Would you ever consider dyeing your hair blonde in honour of blondepoker?

CM: No comment.