Las Vegas, NV
I penned this 400 or so days ago in a piece titled Valley of Ashes....
Chris Moneymaker represented a modern day Jay Gatsby. Much like the main character from F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel The Great Gatsby Moneymaker and Gatsby both were self-made millionaires. They earned their money in unconventional ways -- Moneymaker through poker and Gatsby through bootlegging in the 1920s. They achieved a status of fame and fortune that epitomized the fulfillment of the American Dream and became the center of the party.
Jay Gatsby's fate included a tragic ending when he was unable to come to grips with his past. While Moneymaker's future has been slowly unraveling before us, the $40,000 NL event gave him a chance at redemption. He wanted to prove that he wasn't like the "monkey on the grinder" while paraded all over the world by PokerStars like some sort of carnival side attraction like Siamese Twins or the Bearded Lady.
Chris Moneymaker has been chasing his own shadow since 2003. Every single person in poker today has been effected by his monumental victory inside Benny's Bullpen, and as poker continues to grow, more and more pressure gets thrust upon his shoulders. Folks like me and other results-oriented-obsessed media types constantly write about what he hasn't done in the last few years, instead of bestowing him with accolades for achievements off the felt by inspiring thousands and perhaps millions of people to play poker and actually believe that they too have a chance of taking down the best pros in the game.
I've seen him carry the burden as far away as Monte Carlo and Argentina. He's walked in jam-packed poker rooms all over the world and chuckled as he said, "I kinda started all this." Yet he also knew that he had a target on his back no matter where he went.
I want you to take a good look at the photo below that Benjo snapped more than halfway through Day 2A of the 2010 WSOP Main Event.
Some things have changed for one, Moneymaker is a lot more clean cut than in previous years. After he had won the 2003 Championship, everytime I had seen Moneymaker, he had dark circles underneath his eyes and had that perpetual hungover look that's prevalent in Las Vegas. That's not a knock, rather, an indication of a guy that's been through the existentialist meatgrinder of "celebrity" and all of the other pitfalls of having your entire life scrutinized by the two-bit press and paparazzi.
Moneymaker is unable to escape his past. I sit near his mural in the the pressbox and I wasn't bullshitting you when I wrote that I say an Our Father in Latin before I take my seat. Why? Out of respect.
Without Chris Moneymaker, I'd be still humping the day shift at an old man's bar in Inwood (or worse, stuck on the phones in a boiler room pump and dumping the stock of Lithuanian tech company that just landed a monster contract from an online poker news website). I'm indebted to Moneymaker because he helped expand one aspect of the poker industry with one successful bluff. Back in the olden days, if someone saved your life, you became your savior's servant. I'm not gonna go that far, but I'm one of thousands of people who lives have been positively affected by Moneymaker.
Moneymaker did what he could to remain comfortable and hired a massage girl to work on is back during the afternoon. As the day shifted into night, Moneymaker ordered a cocktail -- nothing to the extent of boozehounds like Scotty Nguyen and Layne Flack -- rather just a little something to take the edge off. Moneymaker is a Tennessee boy so I wouldn't doubt if that his drink was some sort of whiskey and coke concoction. That's his liquid courage that allows him to focus on the game and ignore the jackals on the rail and hundred of photographers stopping by to snap his photo.
Moneymaker finished the day over 100K in chips, good enough to keep him in the top 400 or so runners
It's too early to tell anything about the Main Event while we're still on Day 2, but if Moneymaker can keep treading water and advance each day, then that's going to be the next big story on so many levels. Don't forget, at this stage of the Main Event, the goal is not a final champion, rather, it's the November Nine. The final nine. A potential deep run by Moneymaker could get the public excited again. I doubt that anything could ever replicate the Moneymaker Effect earthquake, but a second title would definitely be a powerful aftershock.
Then again, his detractors would say that everyone once in a while, lightening strikes twice in the same place.
Chipleader: Boulos Estafanous
Top 10 Chippies:
1 Boulos Estafanous - 340,100
2 Randy Dorfman - 337,000
3 Jesper Hougaard - 316,200
4 Rodney Sherry - 316,000
5 Sam Abueid - 313,300
6 Cole South - 304,200
7 Martijn Schirp - 303,500
8 Nick Rainey - 292,600
9 Alexander Wice - 291,100
10 Johnny Chan - 281,600
Notables in Top 100:
Patrik Antonius - 258,600
Carter Phillips - 258,200
Matthew Hilger - 256,000
Yevgeniy Timoshenko - 240,000
James Carroll - 228,400
Sammy Farha - 226,500
The Grinder - 217,200
Robert Mizrachi - 204,400
Amanda Baker - 203,000
Billy Kopp - 198,300
Neil Fontenot - 195,420
Steve Jelinek - 194,200
Matt Matros - 190,400
Will the Thrill - 185,600
Jason Somerville - 185,200
Adam Junglen - 181,800
Barny Boatman - 181,100
Lauren Kling - 177,000
Annie Duke - 176,600
More chipcounts for Day 2A: here
Notable Eliminations on Day 2A: Mike Sexton, James Akenhead, Dutch Boyd, Maxim Lykov, Matt Savage, Leo Margets, Max Pescatori, Gabe Kaplan, Tiffany Michelle, Antonio Esfandiari, Eli Elezra, Soren, Kongsgaard, Dani Stern, Matt Glantz, Liz Lieu, Dennis Phillips, Miami John, Garry Gates, Sarah Underwood, David Bach, Danny Alaei, David The Dragon Pham, Andre Akkari, Ted Forrest, Terrance Chan, Ray Davis, Marcel Luske, Newhizzle, and David Allen Greir.
Former Champs Who Busted on Day 2A: Carlos Mortensen, Berry Johnston, and Tom McEvoy,
Pictures of HOT ASS during Day 2A: Girls on the Rail (courtesy of Wicked Chops Poker)
I usually open up pieces with a quote, but I'm gonna throw you a curveball. This time I'm gonna end it with a quote from my old friend Billy. He inspired the title and theme of this post, particularly his plays Macbeth, Hamlet, and Richard III when trying to understand the Chris Moneyaker predicament.
"Which dreams indeed are ambition, for the very substance of the ambitious is merely the shadow of a dream." - Hamlet, Act 2, scene 2And thanks to Benjo for the pic.