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
PLACEPLAYERCOUNTRYPRIZE 1Chris MoneymakerUnited States$2,500,000 2Sam FarhaUnited States$1,300,000 3Dan HarringtonUnited States$650,000 4Jason LesterUnited States$440,000 5Tomer BenvenistiUnited States$320,000 6Amir VahediUnited States$250,000 7Young PakUnited States$200,000 8David GreyUnited States$160,000 9David SingerUnited 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
DateBuy-inEventPlacePrize March 2011$25,000NBC National Heads-Up Championship 20112nd$300,000 March 2004$5,200World Poker Tour – WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star Championship2nd$200,000 January 2011$10,300PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Main Event11th$130,000 June 2019$10,300partypoker MILLIONS Vegas9th$80,000 August 2009$5,1502009 Gold Strike World Poker Open Championship3rd$60,110
PokerStars Heads Back to Bahamas for PCA and PSPC in January 2023
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
PLACEPLAYERCOUNTRYPRIZE 1Greg RaymerUnited States$5,000,000 2David WilliamsUnited States$3,500,000 3Josh AriehUnited States$2,500,000 4Dan HarringtonUnited States$1,500,000 5Glenn HughesUnited States$1,100,000 6Al KruxUnited States$800,000 7Matt DeanUnited States$675,000 8Mattias AnderssonSweden$575,000 9Mike McClainUnited 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
DateBuy-inEventPlacePrize May 2009$40,000World Series of Poker 40th Anniversary Event3rd$774,927 July 2005$10,000World Series of Poker Main Event25th$304,680 January 2020$1,650Heartland Poker Tour (HPT) Ameristar East Chicago Main Event1st$171,411 September 2012$1,650Heartland Poker Tour Main Event1st$121,972 June 2005$1,500World Series of Poker $1,500 No Limit Hold’em6th$119,450
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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
PLACEPLAYERCOUNTRYPRIZE 1Joe HachemAustralia$7,500,000 2Steve DannenmannUnited States$4,250,000 3John “Tex” BarchUnited States$2,500,000 4Aaron KanterUnited States$2,000,000 5Andy BlackIreland$1,750,000 6Scott LazarUnited States$1,500,000 7Daniel BergsdorfSweden$1,300,000 8Brad KondrackiUnited States$1,150,000 9Mike MatusowUnited 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
DateBuy-inEventPlacePrize December 2006$15,400WPT Doyle Brunson North American Poker Classic1st$2,207,575 January 2012$100,500Aussie Millions Poker Championship – $100,000 Challenge3rd$339,726 March 2011$5,000The Big Event, Main Event2nd$300,000 June 2006$2,500World Series of Poker $2,500 Short Handed No Limit Hold’em2nd$256,800 June 2019$10,000World Series of Poker $10,000 Pot Limit Omaha – Hi-Lo 8 or Better 8-Handed Championship3rd$201,041
Editor & Live Reporter
Calum has been a part of the PokerNews team since September 2021 after working in the UK energy sector. He played his first hand of poker in 2017 and immediately fell in love with the game. Calum’s proudest poker achievement is winning the only tournament he has ever played in Las Vegas, the prestigious $60 Flamingo evening event.