Darvin Moon, 2009 WSOP main event runner-up
BY RUSS SCOTT
RELEASE: JAN. 10, 2012
Despite WSOP Fame, Darvin Moon Stands Out As a Regular Guy
Darvin Moon is a throwback.
In today’s frantic poker world — where youthful aggressors dominate, where the game’s icons become villains — Darvin Moon stands out as something else: a down-to-earth guy comfortable playing the smallest game in the room.
That’s what happened Friday night when Moon and two buddies — en route to north-central Iowa to hunt white-tailed deer — stopped at Jumers Casino and Hotel in Rock Island, Ill., to play no-limit hold ‘em with $1 and $2 blinds.
You’re probably thinking that’s small potatoes for the 48-year-old Maryland logger (yes, he’s still working) who pocketed $5.18 million in 2009 for finishing second in the World Series main event to young gun Joe Cada.
That’s not how Moon sees it.
“I don’t play on the big circuit a lot these days,” Moon said with a quiet air of confidence while waiting for his seat to open up. “I’d rather play in small tournaments and in relaxing low-limit cash games like these.”
Then he told me something that likely would have shocked many of the 40 local players present if they’d heard it: “I don’t feel like I’m a better player than anyone in this room.”
Darvin Moon talks straight-out, and there’s no doubting his words. What’s that? A completely forthright poker player who doesn’t get rattled and makes friends instantly? Must be an aberration.
Actually, about the only way to send Moon into a bit of a frenzy is to ask him about his beloved New Orleans Saints, the NFL team he adopted 30 years ago as his favorite because they were perennial underdogs.
“Best team out there!” he beamed in a voice pitched slightly higher and louder, proudly wearing his Saints hat as always. Moon clearly is ready for the Saints to repeat their championship finish of 2010.
To reward his loyalty that year, the team invited Moon and wife Wendy to the Super Bowl game, where he received a standing ovation from happy fans at the Superdome.
The planned hunting trip meant he’d miss attending the first-round weekend playoff game in New Orleans against Detroit, but he quickly added, “They know I’m there in spirit.”
During his main event run, Moon refused lucrative contracts to wear a sponsor’s logo. He stuck with his trusty Saints cap and a shirt from Wheeling Island (W.Va.) Hotel Casino, where he won his $10,000 WSOP seat in a $130 tournament.
“At the time, people were calling me a dummy for turning down offers from those online poker sites. Now (with the biggest sites banned from the U.S. or shut down completely), everyone says I was smart,” he said. Must be an anomaly.
Two years after his big score, media attention “hasn’t eased up a whole lot,” said the publicity-shy Moon, who prefers to “stay hid most of the time.”
That got tougher to do last spring when he became the first ambassador for the Heartland Poker Tour, which fires up its eighth season next month in Florida.
“The HPT folks have been great to work with,” Moon said. “The Heartland Tour is the perfect fit for me. It took me a while to find the right sponsor, but now all my logos are Heartland.”
It also took some time for him to spend the first big chunk of his winnings.
“I bought a new 2010 black, top-of-the-line Corvette ZR1. It has 762 horsepower, a carbon-fiber body, and cost $130,000,” Moon said. Also headed soon for his garage is a 1963 Corvette split-window classic, chosen partly as a way to mark his and his wife’s birth year.
Moon’s swing through the Quad-Cities wasn’t an official HPT appearance, although he showed up ready to meet new folks and sign autographs. Nor was it his first action at Jumers’ poker room.
“My wife and I were on a vacation last fall, visiting Midwest casinos, and enjoyed our stop here. I finished in the money in a little hold ‘em tournament, but then I played in a cash game and got my butt kicked,” Moon recalled with a grin.
Some of the players on hand Friday night also saw Moon last year.
“He’s so calm and easygoing,” said Milt B., who took back-to-back small pots from Moon with flop bets of $10 and $20 in early action. Afterward, Milt quietly said: “I had good hands both times. I’m definitely watching him to see what I can learn. I’m impressed by how gracious he is.”
Don B. said Moon was “very polite and down to earth. Everyone thinks he’s a super nice guy.”
And a throwback.
E-mail your poker questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org for use in future columns. To find out more about Russ Scott and read previous LuckyDog Poker columns, visit creators.com or luckydogpoker.com.
COPYRIGHT 2012 RUSS SCOTT
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