Apr 02, 2018
Chris Moorman's Poker Career: From Stacking Shelves to Making History
By RTR Dennis
Chris Moorman was one of millions of people who took up online poker in the mid-2000s. The game was in a boom at this point, and Moorman was part of a crowd that wanted to ride the wave to success.
Most of these players are long gone. But Moorman is an exception, though, having won £10.4 million ($14.7m) in online poker tournaments, which is more than anybody else in history.
The Brighton, UK native recently looked back at his early poker career and explained how he rose from a struggling university student to the best online tournament player. Let's look at what he had to say, including his tips for players who are trying to improve.
Moorman Started Out Poorly
Moorman started playing internet poker when he was at the University of Essex. And nobody could've guessed that he'd become so successful when looking at the start of his career.
"I did not know anything about it to begin with," he said.
Moorman had a group of university friends who also enjoyed playing poker. But he was the one who spent the most time working on his skills "I met a couple of players who coached me and gave me tips," he recalled. "I also read and researched a lot on the game so I could get better."
Moorman became a highly successful player who was earning a small fortune through tournaments. Upon graduating, he'd already managed to pay off his student debts and earn a £50,000 bankroll.
Parents Surprised by Moorman's Poker Career
Trying to become a poker pro whilst still at university doesn't end well for everybody. But it did for Moorman, who both graduated and had tens of thousands of pounds. This made things easier when it came time to break the news to his parents.
Parents Simon and Sonya, both Brentwood, Essex natives, were completely surprised to find out that their son was a successful poker player.
In fact, they didn't even know that he was playing at all. They thought he was still stacking shelves at a grocery store.
"I had a dead-end job at the local Asda in first year but I realised I could make at least the same amount playing online," he told Essex Live.
"Mum would have gone mad if she had known what I was doing," Moorman admitted. "But I was starting to win some money playing online and so I was able to cover my tracks by saying I had a job stacking shelves in a supermarket near the university campus."
The 32-year-old said that each of his parents reacted differently when they heard the news.
"My dad was impressed and gave me six months to see how much I could make,” he said. “If I failed I would have to get a proper job in the real world, which is exactly what I didn't want to do."
But his mother was a different story.
"They were a bit skeptical about it and thought I had been lucky. My mum said to me to get out now while your luck was still there."
Moorman Proves His Success
Given a deadline to prove himself, Moorman shut himself away from family and friends for 6 months while he played online poker. The result was a £100,000 profit in half a year.
"I did not really leave the house – while my friends were out socialising I was trying to make a lot of money to show it was a feasible job."
Moorman said that his mother still had doubts, but his father was on board.
"Dad thought it was the greatest thing ever but mum was still skeptical.
He added, "She had only seen poker in the movies and was worried someone was going to shoot me or something. She thought the people I was taking the money off would get angry.”
Eventually, Sonya Moorman began to accept her son's profession.
"She would cut out adverts of jobs she thought I would be interested in taking and include little notes saying things like: 'For when you've grown out of this phase.' Over time she has come to accept it and now she is proud of me."
Struggles at the Live Poker Tables
Chris met a group of fellow poker pros during his early career. And he moved to Australia with these same players in hopes of finding juicy live games.
Moorman continued to find success in online games. But he still couldn't beat the live cash and tournament tables.
"At that point I had been doing really badly at casinos and had been doing well online," Moorman recalled. "I even tried to wear sunglasses in one tournament – I felt like such an idiot."
He didn't give up, though, continuing to pursue live tournaments because of the bigger money.
"There is a bigger attraction at the live tournaments because the payouts are bigger. It started to click for me around this time ."
Perhaps Chris' success rubbed off on his dad. Simon Moorman entered a live tournament with his son in March 2010 and won, despite being a relative newcomer. Simon collected £88,630 for his victory.
"When I got knocked out, I was so nervous for him because it was out of my control," Chris said. "He made the final table – a lot of other players were scared because they’ve played it before, but he was quite fearless."
Big Live Tournament Wins
Moorman experienced his first big windfall when he won the 2011 WPT Main Event in Cannes, France along with $1,068,690.
He'd celebrate another big prize at the 2014 WPT Los Angeles Poker Classic, scooping a payout worth $1,015,460.
While these are his two biggest payouts to date, Moorman is most proud of the WSOP bracelet that he won in 2017. Moorman took down the $3,000 six-handed tourney that year and earned $498,682.
This victory finally helped him get off the list of best poker players to never win a gold bracelet.
"I felt on top of the world after my win. I was so happy to finally close out a WSOP event for the bracelet."
Moorman added, "I think my own confidence in my game is showing as a result with me going deep in such a high percentage of the tournaments that I'm entering."
Tips for Becoming a Stronger Poker Pro
Moorman also gave some tips on becoming a better poker player when speaking with Essex Live.
"You have to be able to deal with losing," he advised.
"Most of the time you are going to lose – you have to be prepared and not let it affect you mentally. At the same time, just because you have won one tournament, don't put your eggs in one basket."
One more tip that Moorman offered is to seek out the wisdom of stronger players.
"Talk to players who are better than you and never give up your day job after winning a couple of tournaments."
What would Moorman Do if He Didn't Play Poker?
Prior to becoming a poker pro, there was only one profession that Moorman was interested in.
"I wanted to be a stock broker - that was the only real thing I was interested in because it dealt in the real world," he said. "I have always had an interest in business."
Moorman probably could’ve become a successful stock broker too. But he certainly can’t be dissatisfied with the career path that he did take.