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Ivey vs Moneymaker - the hand that changed the poker world forever

Poker history is full of records, impressive feats and moments that changed the industry forever. One of the major milestones is definitely Chris Moneymaker's triumph at the 2003 WSOP, but it could have turned out very differently if it wasn't for this hand.

It's 2003, and Atlanta accountant Chris Moneymaker, an amateur poker player, is trying to buy his way into the WSOP Main Event, the tournament of all tournaments. A total investment of $39 gradually worked its way up to the coveted $10,000 buy-in, where Chris later outlasted all 838 opponents to take home the most valuable bracelet and a $2,500,000 prize as the 34th champion of this prestigious tournament.

This unprecedented achievement was not without a media response that made it a worldwide phenomenon, leading to a poker boom that became known as the Moneymaker Effect. The ME WSOP saw 2,576 players enter the next year against 839 entries, and for the next two years that number continued to escalate - 5,619 in 2005 and a long-unsurpassed 8,773 entrants in 2006, which was only surpassed in 2023 (10,043 entries). Many agree that Chris is a big part of this success, but as poker is wont to do, all it took was one hand and everything could have been different.

It was this hand that Phil Ivey, who, as many may have forgotten, could have been that year's champion, talked about in an interview with Barry Greenstein. The then 26-year-old megatalent of poker heaven, with four bracelets to his name, had played brilliantly in this ME, where the last ten players were all expecting and believing in his triumph. But then something incredible happened.

On the turn Ivey managedwith a pair of to hit a full house, with which he decided to send his last 220k into the 560k pot. On the other side of the table Chris Moneymaker with he immediately snapped and shook his head unhappily at the showdown. But despite an 83% chance of winning, the river landed the , eliminating Phil in 10th place and giving Chris another step on the poker ladder.

"It was unbelievable, I remember telling myself I had to stay calm and not show the world how disappointed I was. Yes, today I know I probably would have flopped in that game, but the game was different then and I knew exactly what I had and it was clear to me that if I happened to hit a nine, it was going to be all to play for. In hindsight, I regret not winning 2.5 million, which would have been unbelievable for me at the time, but in hindsight, maybe that hand is the reason poker is where it is today."


Do you agree that if it wasn't for that suckout, poker might look very different today?

Sources - YouTube, PokerNews, HighStakesDB