Anyone with a connection to poker, or who has followed the game in recent years, will know the players nominated for the poker Hall of Fame have something to offer.
The list will likely leave poker fans nodding in agreement. And the select few who have a vote, scratching their head*.
So what follows then is not meant to dismiss the credentials of any nominee. It merely makes the case for one player in particular.
Before you say it out loud, we know what you’re thinking.
Yes, we should declare an interest.
The name that changed poker
Chris Moneymaker has been a PokerStars Ambassador longer than anyone.
He joined us shortly after he won the World Series Main even back in 2003. You could say he joined us before that — when he opened a PokerStars account and became one of the first players to turn a few dollars into a Main Event seat.
Since then, while thousands of players follow his example every year, Chris has been an ambassador not just for PokerStars, but the game itself.
And we gave him a big job too. He helped turn the game into what it is today.
One day he was a Tennessee accountant. The next, a poker World Champion. The day after that, the most recognisable face in poker.
Okay, let’s say one of them (apologies Doyle. You too Daniel).
What did the Moneymaker effect look like?
It’s hard to put the Moneymaker effect into words. So, let’s put it in numbers.
The year Moneymaker won the Main Event (2003) there were 839 players (already beefed up by internet qualifiers).
The year after that number was 2,576.
The year after that 5,619.
And then 8,773.
With nothing more than Chris as their inspiration (and a good internet connection) they were revolutionising the game.
An unlikely name for a revolutionary
Which makes Chris an unlikely revolutionary.
But had this poker revolution had t-shirts, they would have had Chris’s face on them.
Had it had flags, they would have carried his name.
And had anyone thought it appropriate to raise a triumphant fist, it would have been clutching a brick of dollar bills.
So you’re right. We do have an interest.
But we think everyone else has an interest too.
That goes for high stakes tournament pros, Main Event players, to anyone who ever created an internet poker account and clicked “seat open”.
It can all be traced back to Moneymaker.
He ushered in this internet generation, and gave it a name. Then he set about spreading the word, from the heartlands of the US, to the far corners of globe.
(Ever been to Sochi? Chris has. Twice.)
But to date no player so closely connected to the internet game has reached the Hall of Fame. Many will, that’s for sure. Most have yet to reach that 40-year-old minimum age.
But one has. And what a lasting tribute it would be to make him the first.
Had Chris not won in 2003 it’s likely there would still have been an internet poker boom. We’d still have jobs and millions around the world would still have their favourite hobby.
And perhaps there would still have been a WPT, a PCA, and an EPT, and all the other tours that now leave no day unturned on the poker calendar.
But perhaps it wouldn’t have had quite the same inspiration story that we still talk about today.
Hopefully you agree.
While very few will have a vote, it would still be great if you retweeted some of the images we’ll be posting in Chris’s honour this week. You might even get the attention of one of those esteemed few making a decision on this at the weekend.
So forgive us for getting sentimental. Like we said, there isn’t a nominee this year who isn’t deserving of recognition, and we wish all of them the best of luck.
But for us it’s Moneymaker.
Come on, even the name was perfect.
*The Hall of Fame voting is carried out by a panel made up of players, the media, and poker officials, with the results announced during the WSOP Main Event.