World Series of Poker Star Chris Moneymaker Talks to Down the Road

 World Series of Poker Star Chris Moneymaker Talks to Down the Road

No player in the history of the game has done more to raise the profile of poker than World Series of Poker champ Chris Moneymaker

. He calls Memphis home, but this jet-setting professional poker player visits some of the world’s most exotic locales—Monte Carlo, Macau, Australia—to play the game he loves.  Chris took time away from the tables to talk to us about how he got his start, the famous Hollywood stars he’s played (and taken money from) and what he finds special about Tunica.

How did you turn poker from a hobby into a career?
I’ve always loved being in the casino, but when I was playing the table games in the pit, I’d always leave broke. So I thought I’d give the poker tables in the corner a try. I discovered that I could play all day and still go home with money in my pocket. 

Do you have any good luck charms or superstitions?
No superstitions. When you’ve played as much as I have for as long as I have, you drop your superstitions and understand that it’s all luck. 

What’s the longest you’ve ever played at a time?
I was in Tunica to play $20/$40 limit game. It was a full house that night, and I ended up not being able to get a room. So I just played on through the weekend, probably about 40 hours straight. The friend that I came with slept in the car, but I just stayed and played. Slept in the whole car ride back, but I came away with some money. 

What’s your favorite part about being a professional poker player?
I get to travel to interesting places and meet all kinds of people. And I get to do what love. I love to play poker, and I get to do it for a living. What’s not to like?

Has it been hard to adjust to the fame that resulted from your WSOP win and “The Moneymaker Effect?”
The fame part is definitely different. Right after my WSOP win, they told me that I was booked to appear on David Letterman. Well, my biggest fear in life at that time was public speaking, and I told them there was no way I was going to do it. My family talked me into it and I made it through, but that’s not something you get to do every day.
One of the best parts is that I really enjoy talking to people, so it’s nice to have fans. 

Who are some of the famous people you’ve gotten to meet through poker?
I’ve met NFL players and NASCAR driver. Memphis hosts the Regions Morgan Keegan Championships tennis tournament every February, I have a standing game with a few of the players. I’ve played with Hollywood stars—Ben Affleck, Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire. I didn’t really give those guys too many tips. I figured they had plenty enough money to learn how to play.

What is one tip you would give to a beginning poker player?
Don’t give everything away before the cards are dealt. I play people who’ve told me their life story before we’ve even sat down at the table. Chances are, you’ve given people information that can help them beat you. 

You’re a Tunica regular. What brings you down here?
Well it’s close to home, which helps. I love being able to go home and see my family when I’m done. And you find a different kind of play here—a little slower pace, so it keeps me on my toes. Plus, outside of the casino, Tunica has great food and good golf courses like Riverbend Links and Tunica National.

Do you feel lucky when you come to Tunica?
When I come here, I always think I’m going to win.

For more information on Poker in Tunica check out these blogs – Travel Tunica Learns How to Have a Poker Face and World Series of Poker Returns to Tunica

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