LUCKYDOG POKER INTERVIEW WITH CHRIS MONEYMAKER
2003 World Series of Poker champion
July 2006, on the eve of his Day 1 in the main event
LDP — Chris, more than 8,500 players are possible for the main event this year. How many is too many?
CM — There’s no amount that’s too many. You know, if they want to put 100,000 people in this event, that’s fine with me. Just because there’s more players in the tournament doesn’t mean they’re better players. There’s only so many good players, and getting more players in here, you’re getting lesser players, and they can only put 10 at a table anyway, so that’s fine with me. They can keep adding players all day long.
LDP — So there should never be a cap on the number of players?
CM — No.
LDP — USA Today listed Phil Ivey as 500-1 to win the main event. What number would be right for you?
CM — First of all, Phil Ivey at 500-1 is a joke. He’s gonna be more like 3,500 or 4,000 to 1. I think I’m probably somewhere around the 5,000 to 5,500 to 1 range.
LDP — Going back to 2003 for a minute, other than the final hand when you won the championship against Sam Farha, what was your favorite hand?
CM — The call I made against Dutch Boyd with pocket 3s was probably my favorite. That was the only time I was ever all-in in the tournament. That took more guts than anything had in a long time.
LDP — You only waited 18 seconds to make that call, based on the TV replay. That’s not very long to think, with all of your chips at risk.
CM — Yeah, but I had a pretty good read!
LDP — Has your game changed since becoming champion?
CM — It had to, yeah, of course. It’s a totally different game. I don’t play near as wild or crazy. I get called more than any person, so I gotta play more conservative and I gotta make hands. And the game’s changed since I won, too. You raised back in ‘03, people folded. Now you raise, they want to see your hand.
LDP — What do you like about your lifestyle changes after the win in ‘03?
CM — The freedom, the ability to do what I want to do. You know, I’ve got my own companies and stuff; it gives me the freedom to do that.
LDP — What do you dislike the most?
CM — Well, the travel gets old. Being away from the family and stuff like that, it gets old.
LDP — Did your victory change you as a person?
CM — I don’t think so. I hope not. I still do a lot of the same stuff. No, I don’t think it did.
LDP — Your victory in ‘03 is credited by many with launching the current poker boom. Is that a source of pride for you, or a kind of burden to carry?
CM — It’s a proud accomplishment. I’m happy with it, you know, something I’m very proud of.
LDP — If you, Greg Raymer and Joe Hachem played in a three-way tournament against each other, who would win?
CM — Play it three different times, three different winners, probably. We all have different styles. We’ve played together several different times. We actually played in three different sit & gos together and we each won one over in Europe on three different occasions. Greg won the first one, Joe won the second one and I won the third one. Nobody’s got bragging rights at this point.
LDP — If you could change one thing about tournament poker, what would it be?
CM — I would change it from no limit to pot limit. It keeps the all-in sickness from happening all the time. I would love to be able to sit down in a no-limit tournament without fear of some young kid putting me all in when I’ve got top-two or even a set when they’re on a draw. I’d rather see it pot limit so you can take some beats, you can take some suckouts and still survive. If you play effective no limit, you’re really playing pot limit anyway. None of your bets shud be more than you would make it in pot limit anyway. So, effective no-limit strategy is effectively playing pot-limit hold’em.
LDP — When you’re doing something not connected to poker, what is it?
CM — Usually just hanging out with family. (Married, daughters 1 and 3 years old).
LDP — What don’t people know about you?
CM — I think everybody knows pretty much everything about me by now. Doing so many interviews, I’m pretty much well-discovered.
LDP — A kid named Jeff Madsen from the Pacific Palisades CA area has had an amazing World Series with two bracelets and two third-place finishes. Have you see him play?
CM — I’ve not seen him play. I don’t even know what he looks like, but I’ve heard his name, of course. If you’re out here, you’ve heard his name.
LDP — Madsen just turned 21. A lot of young players are out there now. What do you think of their play?
CM — Most of them don’t care, and you know what, when I was 21, I didn’t either. When I was 21 years old, I would gamble my last dollar. If I had money to eat on or gamble with, I’d gamble it away, and people like that are very dangerous at a poker table. They’re willing to put their last money in there and they don’t really give a crap if they win or lose. I mean, that makes a deadly poker player. And all these young kids have that in them. They don’t really understand the value of money and they don’t really care, they just want to get in there and gamble, and if they know what they’re doing and they have that gambling instinct, then they’re a very deadly player.
LDP — Can you name three players you respect as the best?
CM — Joe and Greg, both of them have excellent poker expertise and tournament expertise. There’s so many others I could name, I wouldn’t even know where to start after them.
LDP — What do you see yourself doing in 5 years, 10 years?
CM — Probably just playing poker, running my two companies and going to my children’s cheerleading games and soccer games.
LDP — Did you set any goals coming into this year’s World Series?
CM — Yeah, I had tons of goals set and they went out the window with some family issues that I had. I was planning on playing in the majority of the events and would like to have made a couple final tables. But some things happened and I had to fly back home and I only got to play in five events. So, that changed my goals and changed my outlook on the whole thing. In midstream, everything changed. (He cashed once, in a limit hold’em shootout event).
LDP — Can you give LuckyDog Poker readers a tip or two?
CM — Wait until it’s your turn to look at your cards. Once you fold your hand, make sure you stay engaged. Try to guess what your opponents have, even when you’re not in the hand. If you continue to do that, you’ll start getting better at it. And, don’t go broke with one pair.
LDP — Thanks, Chris.
CM — Thank you.