I have seen and heard about people getting into online poker tournaments by
entering with a buy-in of $40.00, and winning some big-time money. My question
is how, or where, do they go to get in? M.J.
A few months back, I penned a column stating that an amateur could not possibly
compete against the best poker players in the world. Poker sovereignty requires
massive deception, lying, stealing and a whole host of other necessary plunger
virtues, which in combination can drive other (amateur) players off the pot.
I now shudder to recall that I wrote something like: Against the teeth of the
pros, your hide is still a red meat moment.
Well, MJ, I have to soften my position. No, check that. I humbly chow and choke
on my words above. Not only can it be done; it HAS been done, by a rookie of
just three years playing experience, a man named, aptly if incredibly, CHRIS
The poker world was forever changed on May 24th, 2003, when Chris Moneymaker,
who had never played in a "live" tournament, won the main event in
the 34th annual World Series of Poker Championship at Binion's casino in Las
Vegas. And yet, this Cinderella story is not exclusive to Binion's on Fremont
Street in downtown Las Vegas. Online players playing on the World Poker Tour
(Travel Channel) are not only making the final table, but also winning some
WPT events. Moneymaker's win launches a new era in poker, where not only
can you become a skilled poker chiefly by playing online; you can become the
World Poker Champion. I'm still eatin' here, a little nibble of delicious roast
Today, humans weaned on a computer, playing in $40 online buy-in tournaments,
are eclipsing the seasoned expertise borne by playing countless hands in a smoke-filled
The final World Championship Event Texas Hold'em (No Limit) has a buy-in
of $10,000, but of 839 players, only 63 paid the full $10,000. The others qualified
by winning satellite tournaments at Binion's or online poker tournaments. Chris
Moneymaker qualified at a tournament held at pokerstars.com, for which he paid
an entrance fee of only $40. Besides pokerstars.com, other online poker sites
are paradisepoker.com, partypoker.com and ultimatebet.com.
But a caveat, MJ, when it comes to playing poker online: Nevada gaming regulators,
getting their cue from the federal government, have issued the bureaucratic
mumble that Internet poker sites are illegally allowing American citizens to
play. Nevada law now expressly prohibits players betting on the Internet. As
you might expect, regulators and the law enforcement jockies have not prosecuted
individual players, yet.
Being modestly alert to real world happenings, I do not and can not condone
even a mild fracture of pertinent statutes, but do understand that the adventurous
among us may calculate a risk/reward ratio that reflects the Moneymaker formula
of $40 to make 2.7 million through an online route, despite the possible decline
in cordiality between them and the feds.
Concerning Texas Hold'em, what does the term "nut" mean? Mayo
Mayo, old pal, you've hit a 3-bagger. The "nuts" is an unbeatable
hand, given the cards that have been dealt and played. Then there is the "nut
player," one who plays only premium hands. And finally, there's the
"nut," the minimum stake (money or overhead) needed to continue playing
this nutty lifestyle.
Gambling quote of the week: "I got lucky along the way. I also
bluffed a lot during this tournament, but somehow I got away with it."
Chris Moneymaker, 2003 WSOP Winner