WSOP Champions: Where Are They Now, Part 9

Robert Varkonyi
2002 WSOP Champion Robert Varkonyi

This is the ninth article in a 10-part series taking a look at the World Series of Poker champions from the very first to the most recent and at what they've done since in the world of poker.

From nobody to somebody could be the theme for this week's look back at past World Series of Poker champions.

The 2002, 2003, and 2004 champions all seemed to come out of nowhere to win the Main Event and give hope to all the average Joes out there looking for a big score.

Robert Varkonyi

A complete unknown in the poker world when he won the 2002 WSOP Main Event, Robert Varkonyi has stayed mostly invisible in the years since he triumphed over the heavily favored Julian Gardner.

In fact, only last year did Varkonyi claim his second career WSOP cash, finishing 177th out of 6,358 players for $51,398.

Outside of his two runs in the world's richest tournament, Varkonyi's career record consists of only four cashes, none of them in events with buy-ins over $1,500.

The $33,720 he has earned in those tournaments comes up short of the $40,089 his wife Olga has earned in her four career cashes.

The Varkonyis have been sponsored by Interpoker for some time, so they aren't unfamiliar faces on the tournament trail.

Still, the two only play a few major tournaments a year, mostly on the East Coast within a day's drive from their home in Great Neck, New York.

Away from the poker tables, Varkonyi has kept himself busy since 2002.

He appeared in an instructional video called "Wise Guys on Texas Hold'em" with some cast members from HBO's The Sopranos. He has also worked as a consultant to an online gaming software company and developed and marketed his own casino game.

In a decade full of memorable names and faces among poker's world champions, Robert Varkonyi stands out more for his everyman qualities than for his prowess at the table.

Chris Moneymaker

Chris Moneymaker's triumph over not only Sam Farha but also by far the largest field in WSOP history at that point was the spark that ignited the poker boom, partly because he'd won his way in through a satellite and partly because he was an average Joe.

Much like another champion, Amarillo Slim Preston, Moneymaker has made the most out of being in the right place at the right time.

After his win, the former accountant from Tennessee saw his face on ESPN more than SportsCenter, thanks to the cable network airing WSOP re-runs in heavy rotation.

He also appeared in numerous commercials for PokerStars, who made him the centerpiece of their marketing campaign over the next year. Five years after his championship,

Moneymaker is still sponsored by PokerStars, a testament to his appeal to a wide swath of poker fans.

In 2005, he published a book called Moneymaker: How an Amateur Poker Player Turned $40 into $2.5 Million at the World Series Of Poker. The book, which chronicled the champion's life before and run to the WSOP crown, won plaudits from poker fans and critics alike.

Moneymaker hasn't exactly wowed the poker world with a string of successful results since his big win, but he hasn't been nearly as invisible as his predecessor Varkonyi.

The 2003 champ has cashed three times at WSOP in the intervening years, including narrowly missing a $5,000 PLO final table in 2004.

Moneymaker also has two WPT cashes to his credit: a second-place finish behind Phil Gordon at Bay 101 in 2004, and an 18th-place finish in Aruba the same year.

All told, he has claimed $314,361 in tournament winnings since his Main Event championship.

Greg Raymer

Both at the tables and at large, Greg "Fossilman" Raymer has been a true ambassador for the game since adding his name to the list of WSOP champions in 2004.

His record in tournaments since 2004 is strong and consistent. He has cashed nine times in the three WSOPs since his championship.

Four of those cashes have been final-table appearances, with each coming in a different game: No-Limit Hold'em, Seven-Card Stud, Seven-Card Stud Hi-Lo, and No-Limit 2-7 Draw.

In "prestige" events at the WSOP, Fossilman has made two strong showings.

He finished 25th in the 2005 Main Event, and 14th in the 2007 $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. event. He also finished 33rd in the 2005 $25,000 WPT Championship.

All together, Raymer has cashed for just over $1 million since winning the 2004 Main Event. He still ranks 21st on the all-time money list and sixth on the WSOP all-time money list.

Away from the table, Raymer's name has come up in the news several times in the last four years.

In 2005, he made headlines when he was attacked by - and successfully fought off - two armed men outside his room at Bellagio during the Five Diamond World Poker Classic.

In less life-threatening circumstances, the champ testified before Congress against the UIGEA before it was signed into law in 2006.

He also considered a run for the Libertarian Party's vice-presidential nomination before deciding against it earlier this year.


Stay with us next week as we bring you the final installment of WSOP champions past just as the 2008 World Series of Poker season gets ready to begin.

Related Articles:

Best Poker Sites - Editor`s Pick

Latest Blogs »