Michael Rossi recreates Moneymaker magic exactly 20 years later

Terrance Reid
Published by:
Posted on: May 24, 2023 9:54 am EDT

There are some stories that are too perfect to be believable.

Watching the inaugural Moneymaker Tour Main Event play down to a winner, Hollywood couldn’t have written a better story than what unfolded today at the Palm Beach Kennel Club.

2003 Santa Cruz Sentinel report on Moneymaker’s win

Exactly 20 years ago to the day, Chris Moneymaker won the World Series of Poker Main Event off of an $86 satellite entry. That victory sparked the “Moneymaker Era,” igniting a poker boom the likes we had never seen.

I never expected to see similar magic with my own eyes, but the Moneymaker Tour Main Event winner Michael Rossi showed me that I was wrong.

Not long ago, Rossi busted out of a live poker tournament. Trying to decide what to do with his day, he jumped into a $90 satellite offered on America’s Card Room awarding 25 seats to the Moneymaker Tour $2,500 Main Event.

“I had some rakeback in my ACR account,” said Rossi. “I decided to cash it in and enter the satellite. I won it. I won one of the seats on one bullet.”

Busting out of that live tournament may have been the best thing to happen to the Tampa native.

Rossi took advantage of the entry in the biggest way possible.

On the anniversary of Moneymaker’s satellite victory, satellite-winner Rossi took down the Moneymaker Tour Main Event and won $134,265.

And that money was only part of what he’d leave the Kennel Club with today.

Moneymaker makes the call

“I called up Phil Nagy and told him we have a story on our hands here,” said the face of the new tour Chris Moneymaker.

“He’s a dog,” Moneymaker told Nagy. “James Carroll has a three-to-one chip lead heads up. But, if this kid wins, let’s put him in the (WSOP) Main Event this year.”

Nagy replied, “Screw the Main Event, let’s put him in Triton.”

Shortly after that phone call, the tables turned quickly, and Rossi found a way to win the tournament.

“I’m glad I didn’t know everything I was actually playing for,” said Rossi. “It’s incredible, I feel so blessed.”

In the end, Moneymaker and Nagy will gift Rossi both a $10,000 WSOP Main Event ticket and a $100,000 Triton London package as a result of his magical run.

Michael Rossi at the Moneymaker Tour at PBKC
Michael Rossi came into the final table as the overwhelming chip leader

“My buddy told me, ‘You’re literally living the dream of the poker community,'” Rossi said. “I have a small crew of family and friends that support me. Getting into the Main Event is incredible. I was planning on getting into it at some point, to try to satellite in if I could. To get in directly–and the Triton package–sign me up!”

There will be, however, the issue of Rossi’s current boss.

“I’m currently working at a beverage manufacturing company. Shout out to those guys. We’re going to have to have a talk,” laughed Rossi. “I still haven’t fully processed it.”

“I had that talk 20 years ago,” Moneymaker told him in a post-victory chat.

The final table was anything but easy

Rossi entered the final day as the chip leader at a table of six. His competition was anything but easy. Two crushers, Stephen Song and James Caroll, with combined winnings of over $10 million, stood in his way. He also had to face local experienced player Alberto Rodriguez and fellow satellite entrant Sam Ronalds.

Michael Rossi and Stephen Song
James Carroll and Stephen Song couldn’t stop Rossi’s run

Rossi maintained his chip lead for much of the final table but couldn’t really accumulate chips the way he wanted. Still, he rode his lead to three-handed play. He, Ronalds, and Carroll played for it all. Carroll eliminated Ronalds by flopping a set against Ronalds’ overpair, and suddenly Rossi found himself heads up with s two-time WPT champion. Facing a big hill to climb, Rossi kept his composure. It didn’t hurt that the deck slapped him in the face during heads-up play.

“If you followed the stream, you saw what went down,” Rossi told Tony Burns after his win. “Cards just kind of flowed towards me. Incredible run there the last five or six hands.”

Indeed, in a stretch of seven hands, Rossi flopped two flushes, made trips, made a full house, and made a straight, all during heads-up play against Carroll.

The Moneymaker Tour prototype

The first stop of the Moneymaker Tour was a resounding success.

The Main Event beat the $500k guarantee, and players from all over the country came out to support Chris Moneymaker, Tony Burns, and the whole crew in their new venture. The efforts resulted in a fantasy-land Main Event champion.

“This is what the Moneymaker Tour is all about,” said Tour Manager Tony Burns. “The spirit of getting into a big event on a satellite and winning life-changing money–that’s what we want to give to people.”

Tony Burns and Chris Moneymaker at opening ceremony
Tony Burns and Chris Moneymaker at the final table opening ceremony

Now Rossi has the chance to spin his win into even bigger scores in Vegas and London over the next few months. Just like Moneymaker 20 years ago, his life has changed over the course of a few days and an impressive tournament showing. Still, he won’t forget where this opportunity started.

“I’ll be back to the next stop, absolutely,” he said.

The Moneymaker Tour’s next stop is slated for August 17-28, 2023 at the Daytona Beach Racing and Card Club in Daytona, Florida. If you want the opportunity to spin up a big win just like Rossi, mark your calendars and support the second stop of this exciting new tour.

Congratulations to Michael Rossi for following in Chris Moneymaker’s footsteps on the exact anniversary of his historic Main Event win.

Rossi now has taken his own place in the poker history books. However, his story is only beginning. There will be big things in store for both Rossi and the Moneymaker Tour, a match too perfect to be true.

Thankfully for all of us, it is.