Down on your poker luck, who doesn’t think of the famous hk prize Straus maxim “a chip and a chair”? Twenty-nine years ago, in the 1982 World Series of Poker tournament, Jack Strauss was reduced to nothing but a $500 chip and his chair. Days later, creating the legend of one of the most amazing comebacks in the history of poker, Jack Strauss won the tournament, and a $500,000 purse.
“A chip and a chair” is all you need to make your comeback. And in 2011, there are already some serious underdogs writing their own comeback stories …
The one-time-lucky, seven-year-bust, comeback-accountant
Who doesn’t know the story of Chris Moneymaker? He is likely the single greatest reason for poker’s popularity boom in the last 8 years. As a total unknown in 2003, and working as an accountant in Tennessee, Moneymaker bought into a $39 satellite tournament on PokerStars. He ended up winning a seat a the World Series of Poker Main Event, the most revered and coveted tournament in the world, and became a legend.
Moneymaker bested a field of 838 players. In the final heads-up match, he faced Sammy Farha, a well-known and highly successful poker celebrity. Moneymaker took first place, and the enormous $2.5 million grand prize. He quit his job to become a professional poker player, and went on to live the dream!
But, Moneymaker was a total bust.
From 2005 through most of 2008, Moneymaker didn’t record just about any live tournament cash worth talking about. In 2008, he recorded two cashes for just over $150k. In 2009, he recorded one cash for $15k. Considering living expenses, and regular poker losses, these types of cashes after 4 years of running dry were nothing but blips on the radar. (2010? No real cashes.) People have looked at Moneymaker as an amateur who got lucky once, and just didn’t have what it takes to be a regular winner. Generating mostly losses for seven years (not like he couldn’t afford to) does not earn you respect.
Enter 2011… Moneymaker hired a mental coach. He began leaning on his experience of 8 years of regular play. He developed strategies, and studies regularly. Moneymaker has decided to stop being a lucky player, and start being a smart one. The result? 2011 is only three months in, and he won second place in the National Heads up Championship (to the tune of a cool $300,000) and 11th place in the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Main Event (for a respectable $130,000). In these three short months, he has pulled in more significant tournament money than in the entire seven years prior.
His rate of winning far exceeds anything he has ever accomplished to date, and his consistent performances suggest a totally new style of play. With determination, and the willingness to invest in developing his skill, Moneymaker has taken a whole new tack and completely upended all the negative opinions. Moneymaker is on the comeback trail, and just might be earning the respect of poker professionals by the end of 2011.
The Finnish Rollercoaster
2009 was the year of Patrik Antonius. Up $9 million, almost all of it in online winnings, the Finnish pro put up a stellar performance. But later that year, he admitted in an interview that he “lost millions, millions, millions of dollars with other stuff last year.”
2010 didn’t get any better. He lost $3.6 million in the year from high stakes cash games alone, going nowhere about as fast as you can go. In addition to his poker losses, Antonius reportedly lost millions in sports bets, and millions on the golf course. To cap it all off, Antonius began suffering seriously from his back problems, and was forced to attend rehabilitation sessions twice a day. Antonius summed it all up pretty simply: “I hate these moments when everything just goes bad.”
That’s what they call a tailspin.
Enter 2010… Antonius plays Draw Poker. A lot of Draw Poker. It’s March, and he’s won more almost $2 million at this game alone. With his other online poker efforts, he pulled in by the end of February a huge $3 million in profit. That’s more than Moneymaker made in one of the world’s largest tournaments in 2003!
Let’s put this in perspective: last year in March, Antonius was negative $3 million. That is a $6 million difference year-to-date. That is more money than most people will earn in two lifetimes! Antonius credits his intense focus and work ethic for his ability to create such a turnaround. But come on Patrik, what poker secret do you know that we don’t? Regardless, we’ve only got respect for a player who can comeback like this.
Just remember poker players: no matter how bad it gets (losing $3 million in three months is pretty bad!), there is always another comeback story waiting to be written. All you need is a chip and a chair…