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Moneymaker Changes His Game
He won the 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event and changed the face of poker forever.
But the droves of players Chris Moneymaker's historic win attracted to the game made some changes of their own in the following years.
A new breed of young hyper-aggressive players has turned traditional poker on its head, leaving Moneymaker and a lot of players scratching theirs.
In fact, after making a World Poker Tour final table the year after his WSOP win, the Atlanta, Georgia native spent the next couple embroiled in a massive tournament drought.
"From the middle of '04 to about the middle of '06 I thought I had the game figured out," he said. "But the game obviously changed a whole lot during that time and I didn't keep up with it.
"I opened a lot of pots and I was getting three-bet and I just assumed it was aces, kings, or ace-king and I wasn't adjusting. After a good little while of not cashing and thinking everybody else is getting better cards, I just realized I better start focusing on the game more."
At the beginning of last year he went to work on his game and things began turning around, starting with some huge scores online in the 2009 PokerStars World Championship of Online Poker.
He then booked a win in a WSOP Circuit prelim in Tunica before taking a chip lead into the main event and finishing third.
"I thought I had opened up my game more just by raising a lot of hands, but people were three and four-betting light," he said on his way to making the money and booking a spot in the PokerStars EPT Grand Final's third day in Monte Carlo Tuesday.
"I started studying the game a little more. And then I started three-betting more, which I never did in the past, and four-betting. It's proven beneficial and it's helped my game."
The Team PokerStars Pro says he started taking poker itself a little more seriously and fixed some leaks in his game, like a propensity to three-barrel too often and give up when he was short stacked.
As a result, he's seeing results, even here in Monte Carlo, where he went from as low as 9,000 in chips on Day 2 to a spot among the leaders as play neared its end.
"I changed my game basically, and I've started to see some results. Hopefully it continues," he said. "It would be nice to have a good score. I'd like to take this one down."
And as strange as it sounds, the 2003 World Champion says he understands he's got something to prove now, coming up on seven years after earning the Main Event title.
"More than anyone I want to prove to myself that I can win tournaments again," he said. "I did that in WCOOP. I had a pretty good SCOOP, I had some good success in Tunica, a few more small scores, and a couple online.
"It's been working, but that big one has been eluding me. Now it's time hopefully to get one and I'm in great position."
And instead of worrying about the past, he's moving on to the future, continually tinkering with his game and staying positive.
"Like everybody, I feel like I've gotten unfortunate at the wrong times over the last few years, " he said. "But I'm not trying to think like that anymore. I'm just going to get lucky, win my races, when I'm dominating I'm going to win those and I'm just not going to get unlucky."