The man who single-handedly changed the course of poker history is getting his own ESPN special.
ESPN will air “All-in: Sparking the Poker Boom,” an episode of the esteemed 30 for 30 podcast series, on Oct. 23 with an emphasis on the conditions surrounding Chris Moneymaker’s historic victory in the 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event.
Moneymaker’s unlikely win at the WSOP was largely credited with lighting the fuse to the poker boom. It also marked the beginning of the end of old-school poker with the Binion family selling both Binion’s Horseshoe and the WSOP later the same year.
It was also during this period that producers started using “hole cam” technology so they could finally show what players were holding during the WSOP.
Moneymaker, hole cams, the World Poker Tour and ESPN’s continuing WSOP coverage were largely credited for bringing poker to mainstream attention in the mid-2000s.
Poker Icons Hellmuth, Brunson Among Interviews
Chris Moneymaker isn’t the only prominent poker player who will be featured in the special.
ESPN also interviewed poker legends Phil Hellmuth, Doyle Brunson and Johnny Chan, who have over 30 WSOP gold bracelets combined.
Hellmuth, Chan and Brunson all ascended the poker ranks well before the invention of online poker and represent a look at a very different form of the game where poker tables were often relegated to the back of smoky bars or clubs across America.
The 30 for 30 episode will also feature ESPN’s longtime poker analyst Norman Chad, who commentated on the 2003 WSOP. It was Chad who came up with the famous line “This is beyond fairy tale, it’s inconceivable!” in reference to Moneymaker’s historic victory.
The episode marks the second time that 30 for 30 series has tackled poker. The 30 for 30 podcast actually covered famous poker pro Phil Ivey in an episode called “A Queen of Sorts” in 2017. The podcast took a look at the edge-sorting technique that Ivey, and a partner, utilized to take two casinos for millions of dollars.
The Tipping Point for Online Poker
You could basically categorize everything that’s ever happened in poker by saying whether it occurred pre- or post-Moneymaker.
That’s what happens when an accountant from Tennessee comes out of nowhere to steal the spotlight on poker’s biggest stage and win $2.5 million.
Moneymaker also qualified for the tournament in an $86 satellite on PokerStars. It was the first time a WSOP Sportsbook had qualified online. The online poker industry had been simmering steadily since 2000 but it was Moneymaker’s victory that brought interest in the game to a lid-popping boil.
It was also around this time that hole-cam cameras, which were patented by WSOP bracelet Sportsbook Henry Orenstein in 1995, made their debut.
The cameras were initially controversial as top poker pros didn’t like the idea of giving away proprietary poker strategy that they’d been developing for years.
The cams proved to be invaluable for new poker players as they could in a matter of minutes learn concepts that took the pros years to understand.
The new players flocked to online poker sites and the boom was on.
PokerStars Launches ‘Moneymaker’ Tour
Moneymaker was quickly snapped up by PokerStars and he’s been an ambassador for the company and online poker in general ever since. His relevancy doesn’t seem like it’s going to fade any time soon either.
This August, PokerStars launched the Moneymaker PSPC Tour. The tour meanders across the USA with Sportsbooks getting a $30,000 Platinum Pass to the PokerStars No-Limit Hold’em Championship (PSPC).
The buy-in for each tournament should be familiar to anyone who’s followed Moneymaker’s incredible journey. It’s a Moneymaker-esque $86.