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Poker News | PokerWorks Op-Ed

The Legend of Darvin Moon: Where Does it End?

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Leading up to the 2009 World Series of Poker Final Table figuring out just who Darvin Moon really is was on the mind of many of the members of the poker media.  Nearly a week after the WSOP final table, figuring out just who Darvin Moon is still is on the mind of many of the members of the poker media.  Moon, the man who had never been on an airplane, let alone gone to play poker in Las Vegas, is now 5.2 million dollars richer and could seemingly care less.

When Moon went back home to Oakland, Maryland after making the final table in July he brought with him a check worth $1.26 million dollars, the amount guaranteed to all the players who were returning to Vegas in November as part of the “November Nine.”  Upon returning home, Moon immediately went back to work, and dangerous work at that, cutting down lumber as a self-employed logger.  Having been to Oakland, Maryland myself, I can tell you that $1.26 million dollars would make you a king in the city.  You could probably buy a very nice house, a new car, some other toys, and still have a substantial chunk of money left.  What did Moon do with his money?  He bought a new metal roof for the trailer he and his wife share, and reluctantly at that.
In no way am I suggesting what Moon should or shouldn’t do with his new found wealth.  In fact it is quite refreshing in a number of ways.  If you go on any of the big time poker forums you will see they are flooded with people showing off their new 30, 40, or 50 thousand dollar cars and the houses they just paid cash for, filled with all the goodies you could ever dream of.  A few months later the same people that documented their wealth to the world are explaining how they are broke, the cards have gone dead, and aren’t able to sell their cars and houses at anywhere near the price they paid for them.  There are a few reasons that Moon won’t resort to those actions.  Number one is that in order to post messages in these forums you need to activate your account with an email address.  Moon has never had an email address.  Number two is that Moon has already announced what he is going to do with his money in one of his rare interviews following the tournament, announcing quite bluntly that it’s going straight to the bank.  In fact, because of his good poker face, it’s hard to tell if he was joking or not when he said that the only way his wife was getting a new lawnmower is if he were to have won first place.
Chris Moneymaker did a great job playing the role of the “Every Man Poker Player.”  He made himself just open enough, signed just enough autographs, and has kept his name out there just enough to ensure he’s still in the poker public’s eye as the years since his victory continue to roll by.  By all accounts Moneymaker did not then, nor does he now, like the celebrity that came with being the WSOP Champion, but he realized he had a choice to either embrace being the face of poker for a generation or be reluctant about it.  He chose the path that was best for the poker world. 

In the case of Moon, finishing in second place in poker’s biggest tournament may have been just what he wanted.  In no way am I suggesting that he “threw” the main event, all evidence supports otherwise, but as the second place winner he won’t have to deal with the pressure of being a champion.  After a few weeks most of the poker media will redirect their attention to the big names of the game, and leave Moon alone to his own devices, cutting lumber in the Western Maryland woods.

The old saying goes “Nobody ever remembers second place,” but in the case of poker history, that’s not always the case.  I have written about every WSOP Main Event Champion, and within that research have looked at every final hand of all the tournaments, including the unlucky loser in that hand.  It’s true that some of those second place finishers, such as Rod Peate (1983), Mike Harthcock (1986), Hugh Vincent (1994), don’t go on to accomplish much more in their careers, but plenty of others do.  In 1971 and 1972 Walter “Puggy” Pearson finished second, before winning the Main Event in 1973.  T.J. Cloutier, arguably one of the greatest tournament players ever has also finished second twice in the main event (1985, and 2000), but unlike Pearson hasn’t been able to win one. In the “Poker Boom” era (2003-Present) popular names that have finished second in the Main Event include Sam Farha (2003), David Williams (2004) and Paul Wasicka (2006). 

What’s different about players that have finished second in this era and Darvin Moon is that they were all quick to sign sponsorship deals, ensuring they are promoted in the poker world.  In fact, Joe Cada signed a 1 year one million dollar deal with PokerStars before the final table even started, and he was in the middle of the pack of chips.  Considering Darvin Moon was the chip leader, holding nearly 30 percent of the chips in play, one can speculate that Moon was offered a lot more than one million dollars in sponsorship deals before he even sat down at the table.  When asked why he turned down all deals Moon said (as mentioned in a previous Billy Monroe story) “I’ve never had no boss and I’m not going to start now.”
The legend of Darvin Moon has already been an intriguing one to say the least.  As a writer of biographies and a connoisseur of all things poker history related, I have wondered many times where Darvin Moon goes from here.  It’s my prediction that he continues to play in the Main Event every year, including maybe a handful of bigger events a year, but most of the events he’ll be playing will be at his home “casino” at the Elks Lodge.  It would also be no surprise to me either if Moon is hardly ever seen again, buying a new home in the woods, spending the rest of his days logging and hunting, maybe even never granting an interview again.  Moon has the potential to cause more of a stir by his reclusive nature than if he were to pop up at every major tournament around the world.
JD Salinger wrote his masterpiece “Catcher in the Rye” and has lived somewhere in New England ever since, leaving the world wondering what else he could have accomplished had he continued writing (at least, publically).  I believe Moon will follow a similar route, and that, at least to me, is how legends are born.

*Read Billy Monroe's Blog*

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