Chris Moneymaker on getting coached by Joe Mckeehen

We catch up with the 2003 Main Event champion to talk about learning from a fellow champ, streaming on Twitch, Maria Konnikova and more.

Chris Moneymaker
Chris Moneymaker

Congrats on your big wins in NJSCOOP which you streamed on Twitch. Is Twitch the first place platform where the audience don’t all know who you are?

Chris Moneymaker: I would say the majority of people who watch know who I am. About once an hour somebody will pop on and say 1) is this real money and 2) who is this guy? Everybody in my stream will fill the person in. I’ve walked into a poker room for the first time this year and played with somebody who literally had no idea who I was. He was a 21-year-old kid and was six when I won. I’ve got a face that sorta looks like everybody else – Daniel Negreanu, Phil Ivey, Phil Hellmuth have a very unique look – but there are probably three or four brown haired bigger guys with a goatee in every card room who could be Chris Moneymaker.

What are your thoughts on Twitch as a platform, because the industry hopes it will create another boom?

Chris Moneymaker: I don’t think you’ll ever seen an explosion of poker like we did before. Poker was dying off when I won, poker rooms were closing down and as people died, the game died. With my win we brought a new generation into the game and the majority of those players still play. These things come in fads, if you look at DFS it got really big for a year or two and now it seems people have gone onto Esports like Fortnite. Eventually I am sure that will die off for something else, these things run in cycles, whatever grabs the younger generations attention at that given time. Poker was just that thing at that given time. Twitch is a great resource that will bring young players into the game, but I don’t think it will bring them in droves like it did before.

“Ego is one of the biggest problems in poker”

I wrote last week that I think Maria Konnikova has a shot at creating renewed interest in poker because her story, like yours, sells the dream of an amateur beating the pros.

Chris Moneymaker: It’s great that she is an accomplished writer, she’s had that profession for years before she came into poker. She is personable, she has a good attitude, she is a woman which helps with the female demographic. Back when I won it was so rare to see a woman in a poker room, I used to make the joke all the time that a poker tournament was like a high school prom with no girls. Now there are women at every single table, the female demographic has been growing for years in poker and she could really kickstart more women playing. She has already picked up a lot of die-hard poker fans and now the mainstream media is getting involved, but the biggest advantage I had over her was that ESPN was showing my win on a loop on TV around the clock because of the NHL Lockout.

Your recent success comes off the back of being coach by fellow Main Event champion Joe McKeehen. Was it hard asking for help when you are a World Champion?

Chris Moneymaker: Not at all. Ego is one of the biggest problems in most poker players. I’ve sought out help in the past, I’ve joined training sites and things of that nature. Joe McKeehen sorta had the same issues I had in that people play us differently, we get called down more often and people want to battle us more. The game is so advanced now, being an American I’m on the road a lot and only playing online when I’m in New Jersey or out of the country, so my online play is limited to 5-6 times a year and everyone else is playing online every single day. You are going to fall behind, so you have to work on your game, so when I am at home I try and work on my game and follow the trends. I just played NJSCOOP and now I’m going to play SCOOP, which is a much more difficult player pool.

How tough is New Jersey PokerStars because as a European I would assume it would be full of tough early adopters from pre-Black Friday days?

Chris Moneymaker: It’s not an easy player pool but the thing is it’s smaller. You are playing 100-200 runner tournaments whereas in SCOOP you are playing against 7,000. The majority of people are Borgata and Philadelphia grinders who are not as good and don’t play online much. Then you’ll have 30 players who play there every day who are good players. It’s tougher than these unregulated sites in the US which have 9-5ers who don’t realise their money is not safe. The New Jersey guys are pretty educated but it’s just a smaller field.

Moneymaker Twitch
Chris on Twitch

“People play differently if you've been on TV”

Moneymaker 2003
"You get called more if you've been on TV"

What things specifically did you and Joe work on?

Chris Moneymaker: Poker is such a nuanced thing. A lot of it came down to my bet sizings were not appropriate, I was c-betting every flop for 1/3 pot and allowing my opponents to exploit me. My preflop game was fine for the most part, I needed some work on the ICM portions of my game. More than anything else it was my bet sizings post flop. I was a big proponent of not varying my bet sizes based on hand strength but it really is about how your range matches certain board textures. I also had a polarised 4-betting range where it was always bluffs or nuts, but now I have transitioned more towards 4-betting for value with weaker hands that are better than the hands people are 3-betting with.

Does the fact that Joe is a fellow World Champion help with the specific things you needed help with that others do not, like people wanting to outplay you because you are a World Champion?

Chris Moneymaker: It doesn’t have to be a World Champion, it’s anybody that’s been on TV. Daniel Negreanu isn’t a World Champion but it happens to him. The known players are predominantly people from 2003-2010. These super German grinders, the majority of the general population don’t know who they are, they might know who Fedor is, but hell I don’t know who half of them are. The last big star was probably Fedor then before him Tom Dwan were the last guys people would call down a lot because they were on TV. People that play on Twitch like Jaime Staples and Kevin Martin have bigger profiles than the German super stars.

You can watch Chris Moneymaker live on Twitch.

Share this page