|The Internet casino community today salutes a winner who made the transition from online to land-based casinos, thumbing a nose at the anti-online gambling lobbyists into the bargain.|
The aptly-named Chris Moneymaker – playing in his first “real world” poker tournament – scooped the top prize in Binion’s World Series of Poker Championship, winning a record pot of $2.5 million.
27-year old Moneymaker won entry to the competition by winning a $40 entry online poker tournament at online poker site pokerstars.com. The regular buy-in for the tournament is $10,000, so playing online certainly paid off for Moneymaker, who outlasted 838 other entrants in the no-limit Texas hold'em event to claim the title of world champion. Moneymaker’s $2.5 million win beats the $2 million collected by last year's champ, Robert Varkonyi.
'I had a little bit of luck, but I followed my game plan,' said Moneymaker. 'I bluffed a lot, and it worked. I shouldn't have been here in the first place, but here I am.'
Nevada regulators probably don’t share Moneymaker’s joy: basing their opinion on guidance from the US Justice Department, they say that US citizens aren’t legally allowed to play at Internet casinos.
Nevada Gaming Control board members recently insisted the general manager of the Tuscany Casino sell his ownership stake in an online poker site and have in the past forced casinos to cut direct marketing ties to Nevada cardrooms. No US player has ever been prosecuted for playing online, however.
So is Moneymaker worried that by admitting he plays Internet poker for money from his home that he could attract interest from lawmakers in his home state- Tennessee – where Internet gambling is also illegal?
Moneymaker remained poker-faced on that one.
'My lawyer's not present at this time,' he said.
The online/offline connection doesn’t stop with Moneymaker: the championship decider was broadcast live over the Internet, for $29.99 per user. If US legislators think that online gambling is going to fade away quietly, they’re sorely mistaken.