The World Champion

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After Chris Moneymaker’s improbable World Series Of Poker Main Event win in 2003 captivated the entire world and fueled the poker boom we’re currently living in; everyone’s eyes were on the action the following year as over 2,500 players competed at Binion’s Horseshoe Casino in Las Vegas for the coveted bracelet & Main Event title.

When the action got down to the Final Table, one player, Greg ‘Fossilman’ Raymer, had accumulated over 8 million chips, and proceeded to dominate the action all the way to the Championship hand versus David Williams. Greg won $5 Million and the WSOP Main Event Bracelet for his 1st Place finish – then came back in 2005 and outlasted over 5,600 players to almost make yet another Main Event Final Table.

Few poker players in the history of The Game have garnered such a high amount of respect from their colleagues as Greg has. My first impression from talking to him was that he is a genuinely nice guy. A deeper view into his personality reveals that, even after almost two years, he is stilla bit overwhelmed by the reality of being a World Champion and by his celebrity status in mainstream America.

But Greg has done quite a bit more than merely “carry the torch” for the game of poker. As the Online Poker industry lobbies against an Internet Poker Ban bill that has quickly become a hot topic in Washington, D.C., Greg (along with Howard Lederer and Chris Ferguson) took the time to actually sit down with several Congressmen on behalf of www.pokerplayersalliance.org to argue our case one-on-one with Representatives & Senators who will ultimately vote on whether or not the bill becomes law. Whether it’s his willingness to sign autographs for demanding fans or his easy-going disposition even after busting out of the 2005 WSOP M.E. on a horrible beat, Greg shows us all that there’s plenty of room at the top for good guys in poker.

Although he’s been playing poker for more than 10 years, the world may have never known the lizard-eye sunglasses, orthoceras fossils, or anything else about this laid-back yet confident Champion if he had taken a wrong turn back in the mid 1990’s. Around 1995, Greg made a deal with his wife that he would stop playing poker FOREVER if he happened to lose the agreed-upon bankroll amount he had set aside for poker — $1,000. He eventually built his bankroll to where he could comfortably sit down and play the $75/$150 (Limit) mixed games at Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, but once again found himself short-stacked in 2002 after spending much of his profit on his family and home. An unsuccessful trip to the 2002 WSOP that cost around $30,000 forced Greg to look for backing in order to continue playing at the stakes he had become accustomed to.

So Greg began to raise money from backers on the Internet forums and, although doubters criticized him, was able to add about $30,000 of backers’ money to his bankroll of $15,000. While he did indeed win his WSOP Seat in a Double Shootout Tournament on Poker Stars, Greg’s contract with his backers only gave him a percentage of his overall winnings. So when he won $5 Million in 2004, he actually received $2.9 Million (approximately $1.7 Million after state & federal taxes), while his backers got $2.1 Million – with the largest “shareholder” in his backing deal receiving well over $300,000. (1)

“Fossilman” will discuss his participation in the fight to save Online Poker in his Podcast interview with us, along with backing deals and poker strategy. The long awaited view into his thought process during the now-famous 44 vs. AQ hand vs. Pocket 5'er Jeff Garza (ActionJeff) will also be explained during our chat with him.

You can play against WSOP Main Event Champions Greg Raymer, Joe Hachem, Chris Moneymaker, and Tom McEvoy at PokerStars.

This week’s Podcast featuring Greg Raymer will be available early Thursday morning, April 27th.

(1) Biography and backing information obtained from www.fossilmanpoker.com

David Huber
dhubermex