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Can Spain's Fernando Pons Become Chris Moneymaker of 888poker?
Both used to have accounting jobs.
Both were recreational players until they first played in the most important poker tournament of the year. Both had never been to Las Vegas before.
And both qualified online for the main event for a fraction of the buy-in.
Just like Chris Moneymaker in 2003, Spain's Fernando Pons won his way to poker's signature event via low buy-in satellite at the only poker site offering WSOP satellites.
Moneymaker is said to have qualified through a $39 satellite on PokerStars, although this isn’t exactly true (it was an $86 satellite). Pons won his on 888poker for €30.
Moneymaker famously won $2.5m and quit to become a full-time poker pro and the face of the poker boom. Pons already has $1m locked up, and might still have a life-changing move to poker ahead of him.
Highest ROI Ever?
There's one way Pons has already overtaken Moneymaker and that’s his Return on Investment (ROI).
Having reached the November Nine Pons already has $1,000,000 secured, no matter where he finishes.
On an investment of €30, that's an ROI of over 3 million per cent.
Should he rise to the top and win the $8 million main prize, that would soar to over 24 million per cent (using exchange rates of Aug 3)!
Of course, he has the shortest stack of the nine finalists so his chances are small.
But it’s still possible.
November Niner Who Almost Wasn’t
Pons used to sit down in the evening and play a couple of low and middle buy-in tournaments on 888poker from his home on the Balearic island of Mallorca.
One of them happened to be that €30 satellite where Pons won a ticket to the next round, a €250 qualifier.
He later said that had he been able to cash out that money, he would have. But a ticket is a ticket, so he went on to the next tournament and won the big prize package including hotel costs and travel expenses.
The similarities between him and Moneymaker have already been noted among his peers.
“My friends already started calling me Moneymaker," Pons says, "but I still need to win the November Nine to really be like him.”
Unlike a lot of poker players, Pons’s wife is also his biggest fan and greatest support.
Four years ago, when he was on a long downswing and thought about quitting, it was her who lifted him up and told him one day he would make it big.
Now he has. And it all started with a €30 satellite on 888poker.