The 20 Most Influential People in Poker - #20 - Chris Moneymaker
The first player on my list of the 20 most influential people in poker really needs no introduction.
In 2003, Chris Moneymaker came out of nowhere to win the Main Event after winning his entry via PokerStars. His win ushered in a whole new era known as the "Poker Boom" during which players numbering in the millions turned to the game of poker.
Most of what you see in today's game of poker is attributed to the aftermath of the Moneymaker win. It is not uncommon for a small buy-in tournament to draw over 1,000 players and online poker tournaments reach as high as 50,000 or more players in a single event.
These numbers were unfathomable before 2003. In addition, a world of literature, instructional video and websites has cropped up to help players, both new and old, learn and improve their poker game.
Some of you may wonder why I would put Moneymaker at the bottom of my list of influential people. The fact of the matter is that while Moneymaker helped to usher in the current era of poker, he really isn't a big factor in the modern era.
Yes, he is a sponsored player by PokerStars. However, he really hasn't done anything significant at the tables in a while.
It is true that Moneymaker has a couple of small wins to his belt in 2008 and 2009, but his largest cash since 2004 has been just over $60,000.
While for many of us that would be a great accomplishment, that doesn't exactly make someone relevant. The part about him that is still relevant to the world of poker is his celebrity.
If Moneymaker is in an event and accumulating chips, he gets a lot of coverage. He is someone that a lot of people will root for because they want him to become successful again and prove that his Main Event deal was not a one-hit wonder as it has appeared thus far.
Whether or not Moneymaker will ever be a relevant force at the poker table again remains to be seen. Michael Mizrachi proved earlier this year that you can go from forgotten to superstar in just a few days.
Even if Moneymaker turns out to be a true "one-hit wonder," his one hit spawned a new era in poker and immortalized him in the poker history books.