All Good Things…
It is often said that all good things must come to an end. This is true in many aspects of life, perhaps no more so than in the world of poker. After a 17-year relationship, the 2003 World Series of Poker World Champion Chris Moneymaker and his longtime sponsor, the #1 online poker site in the world PokerStars, have decided to call an end to their relationship and part ways.
In two separate announcements, both Moneymaker and PokerStars let the poker community know that it was an amicable parting. For his part, Moneymaker admitted that, after a 17-year grind on the tournament circuit, it was time for him to cut back on the schedule. Over the span of a minute video on his Twitter feed, he told his fans and followers of the news.
PokerStars was equally complimentary of the time spent between the former World Champion and the online site where he made his name, Tweeting, “After 17 years as a PokerStars Ambassador, today we say farewell to Chris Moneymaker. Thank you for everything you’ve done for PokerStars, the game of poker and the industry. Without you, who knows where we would all be today, we can’t thank you enough. Farewell, but not goodbye.”
The Times They Are a Changin’
In a simple year, PokerStars has whittled its stable of players down to a dozen or so foreign players that have name recognition outside of the States of America. The three former World Champions that used to make up their roster – 2003 victor Moneymaker, 2004 World Champion Greg Raymer and 2005 World Champion Joe Hachem – are now no longer members of Team PokerStars. Along with these men’s departures, such players as Daniel Negreanu also left in the past year. Those departures were all preceded by players such as Bertrand ‘ElkY’ Grospellier, Liv Boeree, Igor Kurganov and Barry Greenstein taking the Red Spade off their attire.
PokerStars’ new direction seems to be oriented towards the “rest of the world” rather than a focus on the Americas. They recently signed soccer professional Neymar to an ambassadorial relationship. It also seems the new signings have been more focused on promoting the online game in other areas of the world, where growth is possible, rather than in areas which have been saturated by the PokerStars brand since their inception in 2001.
But What A Trip It’s Been!
To say that the relationship between PokerStars and Moneymaker has been mutually beneficial would be a huge understatement. As the legendary story goes, Moneymaker was able to satellite into the 2003 WSOP Championship Event, despite never playing in a live tournament previously. In fact, Moneymaker has admitted that he would have rather taken the cash for coming up short in the tournament rather than the $10,000 seat, the accommodations, and the travel expenses that PokerStars gave its satellite winners.
As we all know, the Cinderella story saw Moneymaker ride an unbelievable amount of skill and luck to eventually defeat the veteran professional Sammy Farha heads up to take the title. There has been many “what ifs” regarding the poker world if Farha had won instead of Moneymaker and…well, let’s just say it wasn’t as good as Cinderella finding the prince at the ball.
Over the past 17 years, Moneymaker has not been an extremely successful professional. He has barely made $1.4 million in the 17 years since that $2.5 million victory at Binion’s. But Moneymaker has been the “face” of PokerStars since that unlikely day in May 2003, and he has ridden it to a lengthy career and an induction into the Poker Hall of Fame, not because of his playing prowess but for being the impetus that began the poker explosion of the Aughts.
Where will Moneymaker go now? Perhaps he is honest when he says he wants to get off the road and spend more time with his family. Perhaps he is going to wait for the phone to ring from a more-U. S. centric site (WSOP.com, anyone?) or maybe one that focuses more on the Americas (GGPoker comes to mind). He could also just occasionally pop his head out for the WSOP each year and bask in the glow of his Champion Emeritus status. Whichever way he goes, Chris Moneymaker will probably be a success.