Chris Moneymaker is low on chips, and he is frustrated. He sees a man at his table push all-in on the turn with middle pair for 4000 chips and get called by the nut flush. The man asks, "What do you have, just an ace?" giddily, not realizing that a flush is already out there. Moneymaker deadpans, "You're drawing dead, buddy." Undeterred, the man cheers on the river when an ace fails to fall before realizing he is out of the tournament. Moneymaker gives me a stare of amazement.
"Merry Christmas, sir," he says to the winner. It's the first words he's muttered in the past hour. Down to less than 5000 in chips midway through level 3 with 100/200 blinds, he knows he might dip into the danger zone soon. He looks wistfully at the big stacks around him and tells me, "It's a good table, I just can't seem to get any hands."
Half an hour later, Moneymaker finds himself in a big pot. The player to his right raised 400 preflop, with Moneymaker smooth-calling. The flop comes K-6-K, and his opponent bets 400, which Moneymaker quickly calls. The turn comes a 3d, and it is checked to Moneymaker. He tosses in a bet of 900 and is quickly check-raised to 2100. Moneymaker sighs and begins counting his chips. It's getting close to push-or-fold time, and everyone at the table realizes that this could be the 2003 Main Event champion's last stand.
Moneymaker begins to rub his face, clearly perturbed that he has been check-raised. He begins to mutter to no one in particular, "could you raise 400 with A-K? Why'd you check-raise so much?" One minute goes by, and people start to take notice. A small crowd forms, and before you know it the ESPN cameras are in Moneymaker's face, hoping to catch the World Champion's demise. Finally, after another minute, Moneymaker slams the call down angrily, taking his change.
The Jh comes on the river, and his opponent thinks for a while. He looks at Moneymaker, who has taken off his sunglasses and is chewing on their edge nervously. Moneymaker is shaking his head at the board, preparing for his end.
Another minute goes by, with all eyes on Moneymaker. He stands up and puts his hand on his hips. A player at the table finally looks at his opponent and says, "You know, the action is to you." Moneymaker's opponent answers, "I know what the action is." Finally, after a three-minute wait, he throws in 1600 worth of chips, about half of Moneymaker's remaining stack.
Moneymaker counts the call out and says out loud, "What does that leave me?" His opponent asks him, "You got QQ, right?"
Moneymaker angrily responds, "No, I got AA." His opponent says, "That's even better." Moneymaker goes into the tank. He looks up and for the first time seems to notice the ESPN cameras. He looks into the lens and screams, "I hate poker! Kids, don't EVER play poker!" The table laughs. Finally, he pushes his chips all in and says, "If you got me, you got me."
The eight players out of the hand lean in closer to see the inevitable call. The cameras zoom to catch Moneymaker's possible exit, but his opponent immediately folds, and everyone – the players, the media, the fans – all make a collective gasp of shock. Moneymaker laughs and collects his chips. "You had nothing, eh?" He flips over KK, showing that he flopped the nuts – quad kings.
He smiles at me, stacking up his 9000+ chips and says, 'That was fun.'