The man partially responsible for poker’s massive growth 16 years ago, Chris Moneymaker, will be inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame class of 2019. He will be joined by high-stakes cash game legend David Oppenheim.
Moneymaker won the 2003 WSOP Main Event and is, perhaps, the most adored world champion in history. Oppenheim is considered by his peers one of the most feared cash game pros in history.
A Builder and a Grinder
Chris Moneymaker didn’t make the Hall of Fame based on his poker resume. After all, he has just $1.3 million in cashes in the 16 years since his Main Event title. That alone certainly isn’t even worthy of consideration. But the voters saw him as a builder, which is also a qualification for induction.
Oppenheim, on the other hand, made the Poker Hall of Fame for his accomplishments as a player. He’s considered one of the best cash game pros in the game by many high rollers including Daniel Negreanu, a fellow Poker Hall of Famer.
But Moneymaker is the one who will receive the most attention, and possibly bring about some controversy. Many poker fans and players don’t believe Moneymaker is deserving because his poker playing resume isn’t up to par. But others argue he’s deserving based on his contributions to the game.
The 2003 world champion remains a popular poker figure as he’s been one of the game’s top ambassadors. Over the years as a PokerStars Team Pro member, he’s advocated for legalized online poker in the United States. And he never shies away from signing an autograph or snapping a picture with a fan.
Oppenheim and Moneymaker spoke with WSOP.com to discuss their thoughts on this incredible honor.
“I’m very honored… very happy,” says Moneymaker upon receiving the news. “It’s great for my kids — it’ll be a cool thing for them to see when they grow up.”
Oppenheim was equally ecstatic to be inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame.
“Being recognized as one of the all-time greats by my peers is truly humbling and I am honored to have been selected to the Poker Hall of Fame, said Oppenheim.” “I have been so fortunate to be able to do what I love for a living. I never planned to be a professional poker player, rather it was a passion that became my job. People often ask me, how does one become a professional poker player? The answer is hard work and that goes for everyone that plays at the highest level. From the time I began playing I was incredibly passionate about poker and it led to me being able to travel this road that has been travelled by very few. Again, I am extremely grateful to be receiving this honor. Thank you.”
Moneymaker and Oppenheim were chosen over eight other nominees. That list includes Chris Moneymaker, Eli Elezra, Antonio Esfandiari, David Chiu, Mike Matusow, Chris Bjorin, Ted Forrest, and Huckleberry Seed.