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How Chris Moneymaker made it from rags to millions

It’s not often that you come across a brilliant real-life rags-to-riches story, but renown poker player Chris Moneymaker has without a doubt lived that story.

If you’re looking for some inspiration to start that new business venture, take up that exciting new hobby, or just get out of bed and do some work, then here’s a quick run-through of what can happen when you just keep putting one foot in front of the other (and get a little luck along the way!)

Before 2003, Chris Moneymaker had led a fairly ordinary life. He’d trained as an accountant, which was commendable and had afforded him a relatively comfortable way of life.

Though he certainly wasn’t rich, he could just about pay his way through life most of the time. Whilst he was a good accountant, his real passion was in playing poker. He had no aspirations to get wildly rich, but he wanted to be successful at the game certainly, and what poker player doesn’t dream of hitting it big?

poker player
 Chris Moneymaker has opened up the world of competitive poker playing to many who didn’t previously think it was possible for them

Chris began playing online poker a lot more frequently and entered into a satellite tournament. Thanks to his background in accountancy, Chris had less of the initial worry than many have when it comes to playing poker with real money.

How Chris Moneymaker started the poker boom

Nobody could have predicted the win that would come Chris’ way, but with an $86 buy-in, the entry money was low and the potential winnings were extraordinary. In order to get a seat at the Main Event, you needed to come up with $10,000 as a buy-in fee.

That was money that Chris simply didn’t have, but also, he wasn’t particularly bothered about even getting to the main event. 

When Chris entered into the event, he’d been working towards a $650 ticket, to get him into the contending rounds. However, there’d been cash on the table too and he was ready to take that. However, Chris made it through to the next round, the one before the main event.

Chris had not been taken with the first, second, and third prizes of tickets to the main event, but rather the fourth prize of $8000 cash. Chris was cash-poor at the time and this would help pay off some bills and enable him to breathe a little. So, when Chris ended up winning the event, he had to be convinced by his friend to go.  

With a little help from his friends and family towards the expenses of a trip to Vegas, Chris set off to the 2003 WSOP Main Event. Unbeknownst to Chris, this day would change the rest of his life.

2003 WSOP Main Event – Top 5 Hands | World Series of Poker

This was the first time that a total outsider came in and stole the top prize. Chris Moneymaker left with $2.5 million and with that, he created the ‘poker boom’. Having seen his success at the tables, other people realized that they had a chance too. 

Chris Moneymaker went on to write an autobiography that has inspired thousands of people to play poker. Partly thanks to Chris, the top ends of the tables now feature a much bigger pool of players from a wider variety of backgrounds than ever before.

It’s been nearly two decades since Chris’ big win and he’s done a great deal for the profile of poker during that time. Nowadays he has kept away from the spotlight for a little while, though he still enjoys a game of poker of course.