The Commoners Who Made it Big in the WSOP Main Event

“Poker is a game of skill” – It has been said a million times since people started playing it professionally. The cards do not differentiate who holds them. All it takes is an analytical mind and a logical approach to the game considering the on-going situations. When it comes to crowning the ultimate champion of this game, World Series of Poker (WSOP) has established itself as the most prestigious tournament to be won. The Main Event known for its unprecedented thrill and swings will kick off this Sunday, July 05 at Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino. Every poker player dreams of winning that illustrious Main Event gold bracelet which brings with itself a life-changing fortune and fame.

Past 4 decades have seen many professional poker players emerge and deliver consistent performance at the felt winning millions of fortune as well as proving their charisma in the WSOP Main Event. Be it Doyle Brunson, Stu Ungar or Johnny Chan who won back-to-back WSOP Main Events or Phil Hellmuth Jr who sits atop the list of bracelet winners, all of them had been already doing good at the felt before striking big in the WSOP Main Event. However, there have been a few commoners in the history of this richest poker event who took the world by surprise by their sensational performances. They walked into the arena as one among the crowd but walked out like a star. OPN India revisited the pages of WSOP history to present 3 such commoners who made it big in the Main Event.commoners in wsop main event

Chris Moneymaker

Christopher Bryan Moneymaker was working as comptroller before winning the Main Event of 2003 WSOP for the top prize of $2.5 million. Chris was an instant hero in the poker world as he was the first person in the history of WSOP to win the main event by entering through a satellite. It was also his first live tournament which he made a grand one. Poker media was amazed by the incredible win of this young man of Atlanta city and coined the term “Moneymaker effect”.

Chris quit his job and pursued poker as a profession following this win as well as he got a number of celebrity contracts and sponsorship. Later, he started his own gaming company, Moneymaker Gaming. He published his autobiography, Moneymaker: How an Amateur Poker Player Turned $40 into $2.5 Million at the World Series of Poker in March 2005.

Darwin Moon

Darwin Moon was a logger in Oakland, Maryland before walking into the Rio All Suite Hotel and Casino in 2009 to play WSOP Main Event for the first time. Moreover, he qualified for the Main Event by winning a $130 satellite tournament. He landed up on the final table where he eliminated pros like Steve Begleiter and Phil Ivey and found himself up against Joe Cada in the heads up. Although Moon lost to Joe, he took home $5.18 million for his runner-up finish.

Prior to this success, he was under several debts and charged for several criminal offences including forgery and theft. After this massive poker success, he started playing poker regularly. In August 2010, he hosted Mega Stack Series XVII at Foxwoods Resort Casino in collaboration with Chris Moneymaker and Jonathan Duhamel.  In 2011 he also became the Tour Ambassador for Heartland Poker Tour.

Elisabeth Hille

Elisabeth was living an ordinary life in Norway working as a waitress before she earned $590,442 finishing 11th in 2012 WSOP Main Event. It was his boyfriend Harald Olsen who gave her half of his winnings from Event #59 $1,000 No-Limit Hold’em tournament wherein he won $20,499. Olsen had not thought of Elisabeth going so deep in the tournament and winning over 59 times of what he invested to just see how her girlfriend plays in the Main Event.

After this impressive win which brought Elisabeth a hefty sum of money, she became a regular at the felt. She soon got a sponsorship from Betfair Poker which fueled her professional poker career.