It seems numerous poker pros are getting involved in opening poker rooms. Doug Polk and Mike Matusow both jumped on board with ownership stakes in Texas card rooms recently and it seems there are clubs everywhere in the state.
Now the man who helped kickstart the poker boom and also became synonymous with online poker is getting in the action. Chris Moneymaker is looking to open a new poker social club in Paducah, Kentucky, in September. He spoke with USPoker this week about the ins and outs of opening the club.
“I’ve been wanting to open a room for years, and almost did in Dallas,” he said. “But I landed in Paducah for the room.”
Certainly a club owned by one of the biggest names in poker should attract some poker fans looking to rub shoulders with the winner of the 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event.
WSOP to poker poker room entrepreneur
Plans call for the Moneymaker Social Club to open Sept 1. Paducah is home to about 25,000 people and sits in the far western part of the state. The location is close to neighboring states of Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, and Tennessee, offering a nice spot to draw players.
Moneymaker notes that about 15% of the state’s population play poker and that Kentucky has an active poker scene. Casinos are illegal in Kentucky, however social poker clubs have become popular as seen in some other states. Home games are also a regular part of the poker scene.
The state’s clubs often function in a manner similar to country clubs, with poker simply substituting for golf. For Moneymaker, what are some of the challenges in launching something like this?
“Legal hurdles to make sure you are operating within the state law,” he says. “Buildout has been brutal. But everything has been smoothly so far.”
Moneymaker has received some positive vibes so far from potential players.
“Well people seem excited and I am obviously hoping for a great turnout,” he says. “But with these things, you just never know. I want the room to serve as the model I want to do going forward. A true social club with a poker room. A blue-collar country club.”
Once the room opens, Moneymaker has more plans in the pipeline than simply using his popular last name to bring in players. Some major tournaments seem to be part of the mix.
“Once we get open and get comfortable, I’m sure that we will put on some big events and hopefully unique things for the area,” he says.
— phil_hellmuth (@phil_hellmuth) July 13, 2022
Longtime online poker rep now poker club operator
Originally from Knoxville, Tennessee, Moneymaker’s journey in the 2003 WSOP resonated with ESPN viewers around the world. He went from a PokerStars qualifier to Main Event champion.
His win as well as the growth of online poker helped bring millions of players into the game throughout the 2000s. He went on to represent Stars for years and now serves as an ambassador for an offshore online poker site.
When it comes to the online version of the game, where does he see online poker over the next 10 years?
“Unfortunately, stagnant,” he says. “We may be heading into a big recession and I do not think the government sees online poker as a huge money generator like daily DFS (daily fantasy sports) and sports betting.”
In the meantime, look for Moneymaker to spend more time in the Bourbon State. That will come with plenty of work getting the Moneymaker Social Club up and running. He’s heavily involved with the day-to-day work of getting a new business off the ground.
He adds: “If you know any good drywall finishers, I’m all ears.”