2003 World Series of Poker Main Event champion Chris Moneymaker is already credited with being one of the driving forces of poker’s explosion in popularity following his win, but over a decade later Moneymaker is part of what he hopes to be a second boom. Moneymaker is heading up the Las Vegas-based Global Poker League team with his last name leading the way, an honor that the former world champ is greatly humbled by.
“When you look around at all the great players in today’s game, it’s a huge honor to be one of 12 team owners. It means I am still respected by my peers, and that is very humbling,” Moneymaker said, noting that the GPL is something that poker needs to create that “next wave of poker superstars.”
As an icon of the first poker boom, Moneymaker said he’s been pitched with dozens of poker-related ideas over the last few years but has also been hesitant to get involved in most of them, as he “didn’t believe in the concept or the people behind it.” That is not the case with the GPL, as Moneymaker believes wholeheartedly in the brand and the people behind it.
“I met with Alex (Dreyfus) a year ago in the infancy of the idea. I think we shared the same vision for the league and what it could do for poker,” Moneymaker said. While he was more or less there from the start, he admits that it was “all Alex.”
“He put all the time, money, and effort into making it a reality,” he said. “I truly think that the GPL is a great idea and has the right guy at the helm.”
While Dreyfus is at the helm of the upstart league, Moneymaker is at the helm of the Las Vegas Moneymakers, a name he is honored by but also thinks “fits well” with Las Vegas and poker culture. Moneymaker doesn’t want to look too far into the future, remaining focused on the inaugural season before anything else, a year in which he expects “slow and steady growth,” but admits that he wouldn’t be surprised if the GPL became bigger than most expect through the early stages of development.
“There has already been extreme interest from the poker community. I think it will be a great thing for poker,” he said.
Since Moneymaker’s 2003 victory, which took the poker world by storm, the game has grown exponentially. Moneymaker’s hope is that the GPL can have a similar effect on the game that his WSOP win did. It’s impossible to tell whether that will happen, but Moneymaker is willing to do his part and will be using a draft strategy to do just that.
“I’m looking for team players first, but also players who will utilize media opportunities to grow the GPL and their respective brands.” Moneymaker knows a thing or two about branding, as he’s been a face of PokerStars and the WSOP over the better part of the last decade-and-a-half.
He hasn’t forgotten his roots through all of that, though, as he’s hoping the GPL not only helps produce the next wave poker superstars, but also encourages players who haven’t yet made it.
“I’m also looking for that unknown guy who, like me, is looking for his shot,” he said.
Moneymaker already took his “shot” and hit, big. He’s now hoping that the Global Poker League can do the same, as he leads the Las Vegas Moneymakers into this week’s draft and beyond. The Las Vegas Moneymakers pick fifth overall.