What comes to mind when you think of classic poker moments? You know their names. Phil Hellmuth, Chris Moneymaker, Johnny Chan, Phil Ivey, Chris “Jesus” Ferguson: pros who changed the game forever. National League of Poker has you covered if you don’t know these players, but odds are, if you’ve been following the game long term, you know their names.
These individuals have played in some of the most historic hands that still live in poker lure to this day. Here are some of the top hands that gave these players their names and how they changed poker.
#1 Poker Moment (2003) Chris Moneymaker vs Sam Farha
The small-time player who got into poker and may have helped heighten the poker boom against the grizzled poker professional. A regular guy with a regular job who won a satellite into playing the Main Event of the World Series of Poker, Chris Moneymaker may be the player who changed poker the most. Heads-up against Sam Farha for the championship, Chris Moneymaker made the biggest televised bluff in history.
Moneymaker was ahead in chips slightly to begin the infamous showdown. Moneymaker raised with King-7, which is a standard hand to raise with heads-up. Farha called, holding Queen-9. The flop came 9-6-2. The turn was an 8. interesting quickly on the turn when the dealer revealed the 8. Moneymaker had nothing but a straight draw, and Farha had top pair. Farha bet and Moneymaker raised on the semi-bluff. Farha called. The river was blank and boring 3.
Moneymaker had nothing. But that didn’t stop him from stating, “I’m all-in.” Farha tanked and took a long time to make a decision. What went on for what seemed like ten minutes, Farha folded. Chris Moneymaker let out a huge breath and sigh of relief and raked in a large pot to give him a dominating chip lead. He’d go on to win the tournament and show the world that anyone can win the Main Event, even someone with an actual day job.
#2 Poker Moment (1988) Johnny Chan vs Erik Seidel
Immortalized in the movie Rounders with Matt Damon and Ed Norton, this historic hand truly shows how great Johnny Chan is at No-Limit Hold’em. Johnny Chan won the Main Event at the World Series of Poker in 1987. He made it into the final two in 1988 against an up-and-coming poker player from New York named Erik Seidel. Erik would go on to make over $30 million in tournament earnings for his lifetime, but on this day, he came out second best.
Johnny Chan had J-9. Seidel had Q-7. On a flop of Q-10-8, Chan had flopped the nut straight. Seidel flopped top pair. Chan bet. Seidel raised. Chan just smooth called. The turn was a blank. The river was a blank. Seidel has top pair. Chan had the stone-cold nuts. Chan looked to the sky as almost to state how uninterested he was in this hand. Seidel announced he was all-in, and Chan had slow-played his hand to perfection.
A back-to-back championship for Chan put him on even par with some of the greatest to ever play. Little did he know, he’d make our list again in Part Two of the Greatest Poker Hands in history when he was heads-up for a third consecutive year in 1989.
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