The 2003 World Series of Poker (WSOP) is being played at Binion’s Horseshoe and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, and the field of 839 players has now been reduced to two very different finalists. Sam Farha is a seasoned pro, a forty-four-year old Lebanese-American from Houston, Texas, and he looks and sounds like an experienced poker player. Chris Moneymaker is a twenty-sevenyear old accountant from Spring Hill, Tennessee, playing in his first live poker tournament. He only qualified for this $10,000 buy-in event by winning a satellite tournament on PokerStars.com.
Moneymaker—which is his real last name—has led through much of the tournament and has the high stack. He’s dealt a seven of hearts and a king of spades, while Farha is given a nine of hearts and queen of spades. On the flop, the dealer shows a nine of spades, two of diamonds, and six of spades. Those watching on ESPN (on tape delay) can see what each player has, and they know that Farha has an 82 percent chance of having the better hand. Both players check, and the dealer shows an eight of spades on the turn, decreasing Farha’s odds to 61 percent. With a pair of nines, Farha puts $300,000 into the pot. Moneymaker hesitates slightly, calls Farha’s bet, and then emphatically re-raises an additional $500,000. Farha calls.
On the river, the dealer shows a three of hearts, and Farha, with a pair of nines, has a better hand than Moneymaker’s king-high. Moneymaker looks at the cards on the table, then looks at Farha, and says confidently, “I’m all in.”
The crowd cheers wildly for Moneymaker, who’s wearing sunglasses and a baseball cap. Farha, with his slicked-back hair, tries to hide the frustration he feels in this predicament. If he calls he could be out of the tournament should Moneymaker have a flush or a straight. If he folds, then Moneymaker will have taken $900,000 from Farha and will be poised to win the title. Farha shuffles