Monday, May 23, 2011

The “Boom” Eight Years Later

Chris Moneymaker wins the 2003 World Series of Poker Main EventSaw a tweet from Bill Rini this morning reminding us all that today marks the eight-year anniversary of Chris Moneymaker’s World Series of Poker Main Event win back in 2003.

Yeah, I know. Eight years?!

At that time, the World Poker Tour was already on the air over on the Travel Channel, having debuted almost two months before. (Some time ago I wrote a little about the WPT’s debut here.) And really it wouldn’t be until later in the summer when ESPN aired its coverage of the 2003 WSOP ME in seven weekly installments in July and August that the “boom” truly ignited. At least that is how I remember it.

As we all know, Moneymaker -- playing as “Money800” -- won his $10,000 entry fee into the 2003 WSOP ME via a $39 satellite on PokerStars, the site for which he’d subsequently become a foremost representative.

You might have heard about this new documentary, BOOM: The Incredible True Story of Online Poker, currently in the works and scheduled for a 2012 release. It is an incredible true story. Will be especially challenging to tell it in just a couple of hours, too, I imagine.

That title, of course, is connected to Moneymaker’s triumph, a moment that brought together the truly awesome forces of Moneymaker’s everyman story (and convenient name), televised poker (newly energized by hole card cams), and the burgeoning industry of online poker.

It just so happens the first trailer for BOOM came out over the weekend, and it begins with Moneymaker’s magical moment. Check it out:

The trailer -- which I suppose represents an abridged version of the planned-for narrative of the film -- ends with Black Friday, a suitably dramatic twist to the story (and, perhaps, another possible meaning for the title). Here is the Facebook page for the film, for those of you who do the Facebook thing.

As it happens, I’ll be spending part of today’s anniversary following the Main Events of Stars’ Spring Championship of Online Poker. The three versions of the SCOOP Main Event attracted a total of almost 20,000 entrants (19,667) with the prize pools for all three adding up to nearly $8 million ($7,983,200). Interestingly, that total is almost the same as the prize pool for the 2003 Main Event ($7,802,700).

Looking back, eight of the nine players who made the final table at the 2003 WSOP Main Event were American, with sixth-place finisher Amir Vahedi of Iran the only exception. And 48 of the 63 players who cashed that year were from the U.S., too. Goes without saying that none of those cashing in the SCOOP Main Events or making today’s final tables will be American. Even Moneymaker, as a U.S. resident, has been precluded from participating.

By the way, Moneymaker’s colleague, Aussie Joe Hachem, the 2005 WSOP ME Champ about whom I was writing on Friday, is one of the final 22 in the “High” version of the Main Event, the one with an even bigger buy-in ($10,300) than the WSOP ME. (Worth noting, though, that recent scuttlebutt suggests online poker players in Australia may soon be encountering some difficulty, too.)

Seems like such a long, long time ago, the day Moneymaker won that last hand off of Sammy Farha. I was asked recently to try to picture what poker would be like ten years from now in 2021. I basically dodged the question, inviting the interviewer to think back ten years ago and consider how hard it would’ve been to predict the path poker took to 2011.

In that interview -- appearing over on CheckRaze -- I also admitted that while I always played cards, it really wasn’t until 2003 and after the “boom” that I got caught up in poker in a serious way. I can still remember watching ESPN that summer, like many being fairly well spellbound by what I was seeing.

Who knew how much the events of May 23, 2003 would affect the lives of so many of us? I sure didn’t.

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Blogger Rakewell said...

Instead of "Boom," they should call the film "Robusto to Busto." Or has that already been taken?

5/23/2011 10:26 PM  

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