This is part of a series of content to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Chris Moneymaker’s historic Main Event win – look out for regular columns from Chris and special features all the way through to the 54th Main Event, which is shaping up to be the biggest of all time.
This is the most unique $10k event in the world.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll keep saying it. There’s nothing like the World Series of Poker Main Event. This year, the 2023 Main Event, will be no exception. In fact, it will probably be the biggest ever.
It’s been 20 years now since I won this thing back in 2003, and I still get excited as my starting day draws near.
My schedule for the week
Like always, I’ll be playing the final starting flight, Day 1d on Thursday. So, I get in on Wednesday night.
To celebrate the anniversary, I’m looking forward to announcing the “Shuffle up and Deal” for the final starting flight this year. I’ll be there from the first cards in the air because I’ll be announcing them.
That said, I’d be there from the start either way. This is the one tournament that makes me want to be there from the very beginning, and there are a lot of reasons why.
Why I’m always there at Level 1
You’ll hear a lot of pros talk about the advantages of late registration. I’m sure some will even buy directly into Day 2 with 75 big blinds this year. That’s not my plan.
One thing that makes this event so unique is the wide variety of skill levels of players who you see putting up $10,000. It’s a bucket list item for so many, so a lot of amateurs and satellite winners will be in the mix early.
The early levels are a great chance to accumulate valuable chips for later in the tournament. I’ll be picking my spots carefully. The two-hour-long levels allow you to be extremely patient. People will make mistakes, and I want to be there to catch their chips. You can’t do that if you’re not there.
Of course, there will be good, tough players at the table, too. Still, on Day 1 I won’t be getting out of line much, and neither will they. I’ll be dodging the better players as much as possible. It’s not something you worry too much about on Day 1, that’s more of a Day 2 or 3 problem.
A field of landmines
The deep starting stack and long levels mean that the Main Event is a marathon, not a sprint. You can’t win the tournament on Day 1, but you can sure lose it.
I don’t think I’ve been all in on Day 1 in 10 years. You just don’t need to be most of the time. You can sit back, be patient, and let the chips come to you; there will be plenty of opportunities.
In the first couple of levels, I’m spending most of my time just trying to figure out who the players are. I’m analyzing their playstyle; do they fold too much, play too many hands, or call too much? How am I going to play against them?
There’s no reason to force the action, this is an 11-day event.
Going against popular strategies
My strategy for the Main Event, especially in the early levels, might confound some. Aggression is the name of the game these days, but there are some spots where I avoid it.
For example, I don’t usually three-bet that often in the Main Event. I generally want people to see the flop while minimizing the size of the pot preflop. I want to control how, when, and how much money goes into the pot.
Another example, I don’t put my money in with draws a lot in the Main Event. I get there, and then I bet for value. I know it doesn’t build the big pots, but I’m in control always during the long stretch.
I’ll always take information
The Main Event is special for a lot of people. As such, people are generally happy to chat and get to know each other in the early levels. Hey, I like doing that too, but I’ll be using that information as well.
People are generally honest when they’re just having a conversation. Where they’re from, what they do for a living, how many times they’ve played the Main Event; it’s all valuable. People might lie about what hand they had on the river, but not about the bar league where they won their seat.
I’ll look at how they handle their chips, how confident they are at the table, how the interact with the dealer. These all tell me their comfort level on the biggest stage. Again, this is all information you can’t get if you’re not there.
Follow my 20th-anniversary journey
I’ve enjoyed writing these columns this summer. This is a special year for me. It’s been 20 years since I took down this iconic tournament. This year, I opened my own Moneymaker Tour, and that wouldn’t have been possible without that epic run.
Poker.org has let me explore what makes this tournament so special and why I keep coming back throughout the years. Over the past few weeks, I’ve talked about strategy, mindset, getting the most out of Vegas, and what I have going on in my life these days. They’ve all been leading up to this week.
I’ll be sharing hands, insights, and happenings throughout my run here and on their Instant page. I hope I can find the same magic from 20 years ago.
I’ll see you at the Worlds Series of Poker Main Event, either on the felt, on the sidelines, or right here at Poker.org.