PokerUpdate.com contributor Robbie Strazynski caught up with PokerStars Pro Chris Moneymaker at the 2016 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in the Bahamas and talked about a wide variety of topics including how he started the Poker Boom, all other things poker-related, and of course his recent announcement as the first team manager for the up and coming GPL! Check it out for yourself!
And be sure to stick with PokerUpdate here and on Twitter @PokerUpdate to get all the updates at the 2016 PCA!
Hi everybody, Robbie Strazynski here for PokerUpdate.com at the poker…Uhm, let’s start over. That’s my first mistake, though.
The sad thing is, the first mistake usually leads to more mistakes.
Never going to happen.
Want to wager on that?
I am not allowed to gamble as a member of the media, but a gentleman’s wager. I want a home game so badly, you have no idea.
I can hook you up.
Yeah there’s a lot of stuff going on! Okay, one more time. Hey everybody, it’s Robbie Strazynski here for PokerUpdate.com. We’re here at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure 2016. You may probably be familiar with this gentleman. What’s your name again?
Nice to meet you! Bob Moneyloser, right?
Yeah, something like that! Ha, Chris Moneymaker!
Chris Moneymaker, the man, the myth, the legend, the everything – the reason we’re sitting here today, the reason everyone’s gathered here at the Bahamas – really, the driver, not just back in 2003 when he won the WSOP Main Event, but till today, doing amazing work promoting the game. Thank you very much for being with us, Chris, and taking the time. I appreciate it.
Can I hire you for a PR guy?
Yeah, well we’ll see what they have to say.
That’s a pretty good introduction. I liked that.
It’s the truth! I’m just speaking the truth. Well, it’s nice to meet you first of all.
Nice to meet you!
Finally, let’s jump right into it. Looking at your profile, you have obviously traveled the world playing poker and you’ve had a lot of success – also here, at the PCA. Is this a must-play event for you? Even if you weren’t a sponsored player?
For sure. Of any event throughout the year, this is my favorite event because of the location, and how it’s run. I mean, everything about the event is so cool. I remember two years ago, my manager wanted to come to a poker stop with me. He had never been out of the country, so I said: “If there’s one you’ve got to go to, it’s got to be the PCA. So, he came down here last year, and as we were leaving he said: “Dude, I’m coming back next year. This is awesome.” You know, this guy is a $1/$2 grinder, he plays the $120 Sit & Go tournaments, and he had a blast. This stop is not only for the people who play the $100k – it’s really a stop for everybody.
It’s a festival, there’s like a 104 events going on right now.
Exactly. Last night he was playing the $120 Flipouts, and he was having a blast, he’s like a kid in a candy store. I come down here, and it’s always a really good event.
Cool! Well, everyone knows you from your landmark victory in the WSOP Main Event in 2003, and it’s inspiring for everyone. You probably remember, 13 years ago, when you used to just be an accountant and not necessarily do all this stuff.
Yeah, well, the question is: Do you think we will ever see another “everyman champion” ever again, now that the skill level has gotten so high in poker? You have to get through 6,000-player fields now.
You know, it’s tough to wade through 6,000, but you’ve got to think that of that six thousand, five thousand are “everyman type.”
That’s true. It’s not like 6,000 Phil Iveys, or Chris Moneymakers.
I love how you say that. Also, what’s “everyman” for you, might be different to what’s “everyman” for someone watching at home. You’re going to know 2,000 players, where someone watching at home realistically probably knows 10-20. It’s all pretty relative, because someone like last year’s Joe winning, it was pretty obvious that he was more of a seasoned player.
Very dominant performance.
Yeah, very dominant. He came in with a big chip lead, and how the November Nine is with the coaching and stuff, it really changes the dynamic. I liked it the way it was before.
Yeah, just straight through. No coaching, but just like, you got here so you play it. I would like to see it go back to that. I do understand the reason of the November Nine. I get the concept of it – to try to build the game, and to try to build their player profiles – but I don’t think we’re seeing that in today’s game. I don’t think we really built any of the November Niners’ profile.
There’s no one else with that kind of name who could possibly be the next ‘WInner All-the-timer’ is the next Chris Moneymaker perhaps. Okay, that was a bad joke. I can’t win them all. I’m sorry.
You tried, though. You went for it.
I had to try. Okay, so, many pros have diversified into other business ventures. Another big announcement you made recently is with the GPL – the Las Vegas Moneymakers. Do you want to talk a little about that?
Yeah! About a year and a half ago, me and Alexandre Dreyfus were talking and we both agreed that we sort of needed something. Poker is not dying, but it definitely needed a boost of some sort. It needed the cool factor again. You know, when I won, poker was cool and we’ve sort of lost that. It’s gone the way of eSports, and Daily Fantasy, and other ways. There’s a lot grabbing people’s attention right now. We got to talking, and he had this idea for this league and I was like: “That’s a great idea. I love that concept.” Now, they’ve tried leagues before, but Alexandre is the guy to go out and do it. He’s got the money behind it, and he’s got the ideas behind it.
And investors, sure.
So when he started talking about it, I was onboard immediately. This was something I wanted to be involved in and I asked him to let me know how I could help.
Cool. I have to ask, why ‘Las Vegas Moneymakers’ and not ‘Nashville Moneymakers’?
Global Poker League is a worldwide league, it’s not just an American league, so people over in Europe and what not probably couldn’t find Nashville on a map. Everybody knows where Las Vegas is.
It’s in Tennessee.
It’s in Tennessee, yes sir! Everyone knows where Las Vegas is, and I won the World Series in Vegas, so it’s not like it’s a far stretch. So, it fits.
Most people probably think you live there anyway.
Actually, quite a few do, so yeah.
You look 30, but you’ve recently turned 40.
This is the best guy I’ve ever done an interview with, by the way! You’re really an intelligent guy.
I’m trying, sir, but I call it like I see it.
I’ve got as many gray hairs as you, by the way.
Exactly, and I’m 34 – for real!
Oh wow, sorry!
It’s fine! I’m also a father of three.
That’s why the gray hairs, okay!
Exactly! And the best wife in the world! So, you’ve recently turned 40 years old and you’re eligible for the Poker Hall of Fame. So, do you think you should be in there? That’s a tough question.
That’s it. I’m done.
Oh, that’s it?
They told me in media training that once I answer the question, I should just stop. No, honestly, it’s not something I really think about. It would be cool to be in, more so for my kids than anything else.
That’s beautiful. It is! That’s what matters at the end of the day. I have kids, I know what it’s like.
I want to give my bracelet to my son, and it’s just a cool legacy for them. For me, I get to travel the world, – like you said – I get to play the game I love, and I get to represent a great company. So, I’ve got a great life. If I get in the Poker Hall of Fame, that’s just the cherry on top, and if not, I’m still 40 and kicking.
There you go! Okay, let’s talk about online poker. You are in Nashville, and you’re a US resident – how often can you actually play online poker? I guess, when you’re traveling. How many days or months a year?
I can play online poker any day I want as long as I get on a flight.
But, to be real, I come down here to the PCA, I go to the EPTs and LAPTs, and then I also have an apartment up in Canada as well.
Oh, cool! Grind station!
Yeah, grind station. I’ve got a buddy that lives up there who is a Canadian resident and he basically rented out a spare bedroom to me, so I can go and play SCOOP, WCOOP, TCOOP and whatever other ‘COOP’ they come up with. Actually, I’m in the process of probably moving to Columbus, Ohio, so now I’ll be three hours from Canada. I’ll be able to get to Canada in three hours. I’ll be able to get to New Jersey faster, if we get that State up and rolling. That’s probably down on your list here.
Actually, next question!
This is called a segue people!
That’s a segue! That’s how you do it, Shimi The Fish! Anyway, PokerStars was awarded a license to operate in New Jersey. Do you see yourself, along with the company, doing some sort of promotional stuff, or like the tour in California you did recently?
Yeah, I think it will be something similar. I think it will be a little different because they don’t have the card rooms there in New Jersey like they do in California, but I do see some kind or roll-out. It’s going to be big news when PokerStars enters the State and we’ll definitely want to capitalize on that, and I expect to spend some time in New Jersey sometime this year.
I mean it’s not that different to where I live.
Okay! Many poker players have goals that they hope to achieve. Are you working towards any particular goals for yourself?
Just chillin’ and living life. Honestly, if I had any goal that I was sort of “working toward” right now, is losing the 40 lbs I put on last year – which sucks, by the way.
Okay, that’s a great goal.
As far as poker goals go, I try not to set monetary goals and goals that I cannot control. My goal for the last 5 years has always been that whenever I sit down to play, I make sure that I’m ready, and I always try to make the right decision. If I can walk away from the poker player saying: “I played well and I made the best decision I know how,” then I’m fine with it. Obviously, you never like to lose. I get upset, but I know that if I played my best, that’s that.
That’s a goal I’m sure a lot of our viewers can take away for themselves. That’s a lesson for anybody. I’ll be doing it.
Well, you see, some people say I want to win this tournament, or this much money, and you can’t control that.
Right, you just want to do your best.
You’re setting yourself up for failure. I mean, if you reach your goal, then great! You just can’t control the river, and you can’t control so many variables in this game. All you can control is your decision making process. Last night I went to bed at 11 O’clock, made sure I got a good 10 hours of sleep, and I don’t go out and drink the night before and I don’t go out to do anything. I make sure that when I’m here to play, I’m focused on playing.
Cool, I hear you. So, all this play talk, all this poker, but we’re in the Bahamas. What do you do for fun when you’re not playing?
I do media!
I mean, I’m glad you’re having fun then! That’s wonderful.
I was talking to my kids this morning and they were like: “Dad, are you going down all the slides? It’s not fair!” They have a cheer camp, so they can’t come. So they’re all upset that I’m down here doing all these slides. I gave the news to them that I haven’t stepped outside yet. They’re pretty happy about that. If I were to not continue playing the Main Event, I will have some free time. I’m playing in the 3 v 3 basketball tournament down here.
Oh cool! Jason Mercier’s hosting that.
Yeah, Jason Mercier and PokerStars are doing that. We have a new thing here at PokerStars called Stars Fun and it’s a new promotion we’re starting up. We have a Blackjack tournament, we have a Tailgate Party tomorrow that I’ll be hosting, and we have the 3 v 3 basketball tournament. There’s a lot of activities going on here off the felt, so if I’m not playing in the tournament anymore, I’m sure I’ll play some side events, but also there are so many slides, dolphin adventures, and Stars Fun, so I’ll be busy.
Much better to swim with the dolphins than the sharks, that’s for sure.
Yeah! There’s always someone down here that swims with the sharks, though. There’s always a bet that someone gets drunk enough to actually do it. It happens every year!
We’re going to go off script now.
We, would like you to choose a random question from the hat here and read it to our audience here at PokerUpdate.com.
Wow, probably ‘Why do you weigh so much?’ or something like that.
No, some pretty interesting questions.
Let’s see. Random question.
I know what it is. I may have written the questions.
They’re all the same question! Okay, “What is the one, must-have condiment that you need on any sandwich?” Well, this is the problem: There’s two types of sandwiches. Your meat (your burger) and then you have your chicken, and both require different condiments. So, there’s no “one condiment” that is a “must-have.” If I had to pick a perfect condiment, it’s a honey mustard mayonnaise.
That probably would fill the void in each. Now, if you asked Daniel Negreanu, it’s probably going to be whatever fits on a vegan thing.
We don’t want to know any of that.
Some tofu spread on the tofu burger.
Yeah, that sounds delicious! Not. I’m going to go with either a mayonnaise variant or something like that, because I could put it down on a burger and the chicken, and maybe whatever the hell vegan is. It would be tasty.
But we do love Daniel too.
No, Daniel’s great. He just eats weird stuff.
There you go! You heard it first here, at PokerUpdate.com. Again, this is Chris Moneymaker. Thank you so much for spending time with us. I’m sure everyone’s going to love this video. Good luck at the PCA.
Thank you, Robbie! Enjoy your time down here. I know it’s your first time down here and he’s been just like a kid in Christmas. He’s had a permagrin on from the last two hours, so I know he’s having a good time.
That’s very sweet! Thank you.