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Chris Moneymaker on Repping Full Tilt, Coaching and Charity
To a poker fan Chris Moneymaker, of course, needs no introduction.
He's pretty much the reason we're all in this industry to begin with.
But just because he's been the face of the game for the last decade it doesn't mean Chris Moneymaker's story is over, either.
Poker's been good to him, for sure, and changed his life in extraordinary ways but it takes a special person (and player) to still carry poker's torch 10 years later.
Always learning, always growing and always sharing his good fortune with others Moneymaker's earned every bit of that longevity. PokerListings Germany's Dirk Oetzmann caught up with him at EPT London yesterday to find out more.
PokerListings: When we spoke in San Remo last year you said you had hired Calvin Anderson as a coach. Is this still working out for you?
Chris Moneymaker: Yes, I'm actually speaking to him more than ever. Only the other night we had a five-hour conversation.
I'm very happy with my game at the moment, all I need is some results coming in. I didn’t get very lucky in coin flip or similar situations lately. I’m trying hard to get another good tournament result.
I always learn from these conversations, no matter if I speak to my coach or I have someone who I help.
PL: So you are coaching players as well?
PL: How can I hire you?
CM: Well, I don’t do private coaching, as I find that’s really a big headache. But I have worked for the WPT boot camp several times, where we teach players in groups.
PL: Is coaching something you would recommend for everybody? If you relate costs and benefits?
CM: If you're a recreational player you're probably better off with a training site that shows video and teaches strategy. But if you want to take it to a professional level, investing money to improve your game is definitely worth it.
I know players who haven’t improved in 15 years and the reason is that they've never really tried.
Coaching is a phenomenon of the last maybe eight years. Before that, nobody thought it was necessary. But now the game has changed so much. Coaching also helps you to adapt.
For example, in the boot camp we would show some slides and talk people through tournament strategy. Later on, we actually go to the poker lab and really play with them to analyse the mistakes.
A couple of years ago, the main thing was to tell people how to survive in a tournament, when to defend yourself and how to play in position. This was the time when time was right, or however you want to call it, and everybody played pretty much the same style.
But then other strategies showed up and whenever that happens you try to find a strategy that busts that new style. The pre-flop raise went down from 3x to 2.5x and then down to 2x, while the ranges willing to defend have become much broader.
The development from a more TAG style to a LAG style has had an impact on coaching, too. So now we teach players different things, like how to accumulate chips early on and how they can put themselves in a position to actually win a tournament.
PL: Are you a friend of the lower 2x raise?
CM: My idea is to see the flop as cheap as possible. If I'm at a very call-happy table, I go up to 2.5x or even 3x. My pre-flop raise depends on the other players and the table dynamics.
PL: Is working for the WPT not a conflict of interest for a PokerStars player?
CM: No, because it’s not really competition and it’s also not a competing poker room.
PL: You’ve recently played at the poker festival in Montreal, which was a Full Tilt event.
CM: Yes, it was weird to wear a Full Tilt hat for the first time, but I was still representing PokerStars. Now that they are both under one roof, it’s not a sacrilege anymore to play on Full Tilt like it was back in the days.
I used to have an account on Full Tilt. I didn’t play there for seven years because I wasn’t allowed to, and then I opened a new one. I had forgotten nickname and password and everything about the old account. Their support actually contacted me and said, ‘you have two accounts’.
PL: Did they accuse you of multi-accounting?
CM: No, not really. It was just a mistake, and as I hadn’t used the other one for so many years. It wasn't a big deal.
PL: At the first Full Tilt Event in Galway, there were also PS players like Liv Boeree. Is this a trend?
CM: Well, they asked me to go to Montreal. They are using the team pros to push the Full Tilt events a little bit, and it's now starting to work.
PL: Is Full Tilt struggling?
CM: I wouldn’t say they’re struggling. They are still one of the biggest poker rooms in the world, but the action on PokerStars is so good that it’s bad for the cash games on Full Tilt.
It’s a different thing about the tournaments, as they have a lot of different tournaments that take place at different times. I wouldn’t be surprised if Full Tilt is sold off eventually.
PL: Who could be a potential buyer? Another online poker room?
CM: No, it would rather be a brick-and-mortar casino like Caesars. Any big, affluent casino that can afford to pay $950 million or whatever it’ll cost.
Personally, I think that buying Full Tilt was an ingenious move. PokerStars gets lucky in spots, but they also make pretty good decisions.
PL: German players chopped the WCOOP main event, now the Super High Roller in London, they top the GPI. What’s your opinion on this?
CM: It’s insane. They always had some good players, but recently they’ve had excellent results. I’m sure they are hard workers and have a fundamental knowledge, but you still have to judge players individually.
You can’t say someone’s good because he’s German, just as you can’t say every Brazilian player is crazy.
PL: You are also involved in charity. Who are you supporting and what motivates you to do it?
CM: I don’t really talk about it a lot, as I don’t want to brag about it, but I’ve been involved in charity for a long time.
I support the Humane Society, which helps pets and animals, and I also support some smaller, local institutions. I live in my town and I want to help that town as much as I can.
My oldest daughter is mildly autistic so I try to help autism research as well. I don’t really want to talk about any of this, because it takes value off it. You should just do these things rather than talk.
PL: Have you always been such a socially involved person?
CM: No, of course not. First, I was an introvert. There were times when I only cared about me. Also, I simply wasn’t able to do that.
But all this changed with what happened at the World Series. I’ve been lucky in my life and as I now have more flexibility, I like to help.
PL: Where are you going next?
CM: Home. I’ve been on the road for quite some time.
Then I’ll be at the WPT battle in Puerto Rico, where all the boot campers go, and only yesterday I signed a new deal to represent the Hollywood Poker Open Series.
I’m gonna be the face of that, when they are going into their second season, so I’ll go and visit all of the casinos of their stops.