In the run-up to the 2022 World Series of Poker (WSOP), PokerNews is looking back at all the past WSOP Main Event champions since 2000. The first instalment of this series covered the careers of Chris Ferguson, Carlos Mortensen and Robert Varkonyi, while this edition focuses on Chris Moneymaker (2003), Greg Merson (2004) and Joe Hachem (2005).
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Chris Moneymaker: 2003 WSOP Main Event Champion ($2,500,000)
Chris Moneymaker went from an accountant to an American household name following his 2003 WSOP Main Event win. He would defeat High Stakes Poker legend Sammy Farha to win the world’s most famous poker tournament and claim the $2.5 million up top.
Moneymaker also despatched Phil Ivey, who is currently on a high-roller hot streak, in memorable fashion. With just ten players remaining, Ivey was all-in at risk on the turn with a full house against Moneymaker’s three-of-a-kind. Moneymaker would boat up on the river to seal the check mark while eliminating the favourite from the tournament.
While Moneymaker has failed to add any more bracelets or seven-figure hauls to his resume, he has still had a career many players dream of. His name is synonymous with the poker boom and helped take poker from a backroom game to a worldwide phenomenon.
Now almost 20 years on since his victory, Moneymaker has added close to $1.5 million in live tournament earnings with his next biggest cash coming in the 2011 NBC National Heads-Up Championship. He finished second in the event for $300,000, proving he wasn’t just a one-trick pony.
In 2019, he was deservedly inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame and in late-2020 Moneymaker and PokerStars went their separate ways following a partnership that spanned 17 years.
2003 WSOP Main Event Final Table Results
|1||Chris Moneymaker||United States||$2,500,000|
|2||Sam Farha||United States||$1,300,000|
|3||Dan Harrington||United States||$650,000|
|4||Jason Lester||United States||$440,000|
|5||Tomer Benvenisti||United States||$320,000|
|6||Amir Vahedi||United States||$250,000|
|7||Young Pak||United States||$200,000|
|8||David Grey||United States||$160,000|
|9||David Singer||United States||$120,000|
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The Moneymaker Effect
Following Moneymaker’s WSOP triumph, the poker landscape changed forever. People all around the world saw an amateur poker player overcome some of the best players in the world to win a life-changing amount of money. This then inspired a countless amount of people to take up the game of No Limit Texas Hold’em, which is known as ‘The Moneymaker Effect‘
During the 2021 WSOP Main Event, it appeared at one point that lightning would strike twice. Moneymaker had conjured up another deep run and was the overall chip leader at one stage. He eventually bowed out in 260th place for $38,600 on Day 5 of the tournament.
Chris Moneymaker’s Top 5 Cashes since WSOP Main Event Win
|March 2011||$25,000||NBC National Heads-Up Championship 2011||2nd||$300,000|
|March 2004||$5,200||World Poker Tour – WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star Championship||2nd||$200,000|
|January 2011||$10,300||PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Main Event||11th||$130,000|
|June 2019||$10,300||partypoker MILLIONS Vegas||9th||$80,000|
|August 2009||$5,150||2009 Gold Strike World Poker Open Championship||3rd||$60,110|
Greg Raymer: 2004 WSOP Main Event Champion ($5,000,000)
One year on from the heroics of Moneymaker, the number of entries in the 2004 WSOP Main Event swelled to 2,576, which was more than three times the number of players from the previous year (839). This saw the prize pool balloon to an unprecedented $24,224,400, with first-place taking home $5 million.
Greg Raymer overcame a stacked final table, which included players like David Williams, Josh Arieh and Dan Harrington, to win the big one. Prior to etching his name in the poker history books for all eternity, Raymer, like Moneymaker, was also a relatively unknown player. He had only one WSOP cash to his name and just $5,345 in WSOP earnings.
One of the key hands from Raymer’s road to riches story came against Mike Matusow where the former would get a full double up thanks to a turned flush. He would get another double with aces shortly after to become one of the big stacks as the Main Event reached the final table.
Raymer would then go onto knockout five players on the final table to win last ever WSOP held at the Binions Horseshoe Casino.
2004 WSOP Main Event Final Table Results
|1||Greg Raymer||United States||$5,000,000|
|2||David Williams||United States||$3,500,000|
|3||Josh Arieh||United States||$2,500,000|
|4||Dan Harrington||United States||$1,500,000|
|5||Glenn Hughes||United States||$1,100,000|
|6||Al Krux||United States||$800,000|
|7||Matt Dean||United States||$675,000|
|9||Mike McClain||United States||$470,400|
Raymer’s all-time live earnings currently stands at $8,101,540 meaning he currently sits in 142nd place in The Hendon Mob all time money list. He made another deep run in the Main Event the following year, finishing in 25th place for a further a $304,680.
In more recent times, Raymer picked up a six figure score in January 2020, winning the Heartland Poker Tour (HPT) Ameristar East Chicago $1,650 Main Event. It was his fifth HPT Main Event title, the most anyone has recorded.
He also booked his place at the 2023 PokerStars Players Championship after getting his hands on a coveted platinum pass at last year’s Cardplayer Lifestyle Mixed Game Festival.
Greg Raymer’s Top 5 Cashes since WSOP Main Event Win
|May 2009||$40,000||World Series of Poker 40th Anniversary Event||3rd||$774,927|
|July 2005||$10,000||World Series of Poker Main Event||25th||$304,680|
|January 2020||$1,650||Heartland Poker Tour (HPT) Ameristar East Chicago Main Event||1st||$171,411|
|September 2012||$1,650||Heartland Poker Tour Main Event||1st||$121,972|
|June 2005||$1,500||World Series of Poker $1,500 No Limit Hold’em||6th||$119,450|
Joe Hachem: 2005 WSOP Main Event Champion ($7,500,000)
The 2005 WSOP Main Event continued the trend of producing record attendances, this time setting the bar at 5,619 entries. The prize pool of $52,818,610 was the largest ever for a single tournament and the $7.5 million up top was also the biggest ever tournament payout.
Joe Hachem became the first-ever Australian to win the Main Event after he defeated amateur poker player Steve Dannenmann in heads-up play. His exploits on the felt inspired a poker boom Down Under, cementing his legacy as one of the most influential WSOP Main Event winners of all time.
2005 WSOP Main Event Final Table Results
|2||Steve Dannenmann||United States||$4,250,000|
|3||John “Tex” Barch||United States||$2,500,000|
|4||Aaron Kanter||United States||$2,000,000|
|6||Scott Lazar||United States||$1,500,000|
|8||Brad Kondracki||United States||$1,150,000|
|9||Mike Matusow||United States||$1,000,000|
Hachem went on to have a glittering career in poker, adding over $5 million in tournament earnings since his Main Event win. A bulk of that came the following year where he would go onto win the WPT Doyle Brunson North American Poker Classic for $2,207,575. Appearances on poker TV shows like The Big Game also helped Lebanese-born player become a household name during the height of the games popularity.
Joe Hachem’s Top 5 Cashes since WSOP Main Event Win
|December 2006||$15,400||WPT Doyle Brunson North American Poker Classic||1st||$2,207,575|
|January 2012||$100,500||Aussie Millions Poker Championship – $100,000 Challenge||3rd||$339,726|
|March 2011||$5,000||The Big Event, Main Event||2nd||$300,000|
|June 2006||$2,500||World Series of Poker $2,500 Short Handed No Limit Hold’em||2nd||$256,800|
|June 2019||$10,000||World Series of Poker $10,000 Pot Limit Omaha – Hi-Lo 8 or Better 8-Handed Championship||3rd||$201,041|