By Barbara Rogers
From a bantam weight 131-pound high school wrestler to a burly poker powerhouse; this is the stuff Hollywood likes to make into movies. But this Hollywood is better than the one in California. This is the Penn National Gaming’s Hollywood. Hollywood Casinos—lots of them, all across America, bringing the opportunity to win seats and big money in the Hollywood Poker Open II. Round two promises to top last years wildly successful inaugural that culminated at the M Resort Casino & Spa in Vegas, paying out over 1.4 million, easily surpassing their $500,000 guarantee. And this Hollywood stars the man that poker folklore is made of. Chris Moneymaker as the ambassador for the Penn National Gaming brand’s Hollywood Casinos brings his friendly approachable self to the ambitious HPO 2014.
The guy who beat the odds, winning the final table in the 2003 WSOP with a game changing bluff against Sammy Farha, has now partnered with Penn National Gaming. This means that you will most likely have the chance to meet Chris, play poker with him, and ask questions at one of the many Hollywood Casino poker rooms across this great country of ours.
I asked Chris some questions about this association:
Barbara Rogers: “Obviously this is great for you Chris, how did this opportunity come about?”
Chris Moneymaker: “I’ve always liked endorsing rooms and making appearances, and I’ve been looking for a partner for a long time that I can stand behind and trust, and I met a partner back in the day who was in Columbus (Matt W) with Penn National. We started a discussion and thought it would be a fun idea to do a 6 month stint as a trial program to come up every month and entertain the room. I saw good results, made a lot of friends and found it to be an enjoyable experience. From there, we started talking about a company- wide promotion. Last year was the first year of the HPO series. It was a really good year, so on the second year we discussed what I was doing for them and decided to take it companywide.”
BR: “So you were involved in the inaugural HPO?”
CM: “I was just the ambassador for the poker room at Hollywood Casino Columbus, and that led to representing the entire brand for season 2 and Lawrenceburg is the first one out of the gate.”
BR: “You were just in Brazil and Puerto Rico and you are now heading back to Ohio?”
CM: “I’m driving through today, but going to Columbus again in December. Then Brazil in a week and half, and Puerto Rico in December as well.”
BR: “Ohio is a great poker state.”
CM: “It’s amazing. A lot of people don’t realize that Ohio has some of the biggest poker rooms in the country. Columbus for example has 32 tables in the room..”
BR: “After Hollywood Lawrenceburg, where to next?”
CM: “Tunica in February; here’s the lineup: http://www.hollywoodpokeropen.
BR: “I know last year was a huge success -- what do you think will happen this year?”
CM: “Obviously with last year’s success and the relationship I have with Columbus, we decided to join forces and make it better. Me joining plus going to events will perhaps make it even bigger and better than before. It’s a tough act to follow, but with such a good year last year, hopefully it can be even better than before. They hit a nice niche of people with the buy-ins and the structure of the tournament. They hit the sweet spot with the $600-$1500 buy-in, then the main event that falls around the same time as the World Series. They’ve done a really good job organizing in a way to attract a lot of people.”
The phenomenon of Chris Moneymaker has been nicknamed the “Moneymaker Effect” and this moneymaker effect of his and the Hollywood Casino’s moneymaking effect could quite possibly bring to you, your own “moneymaker effect.” Watch for it at a Hollywood Casino playing near you.