Chris Moneymaker stars at Presque Isle poker room

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It looks like Chris Moneymaker, the 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event champion, will be the resident celebrity for Presque Isle Downs’ new poker room.

He’ll be seen regularly in Erie, as his contract with the casino calls for him to visit at least every other month.

“It’s not a one-off deal,” said Moneymaker, who lives in Memphis and recently signed on to represent Blue Shark Optics as well. “I’ll be back to do some seminars, play cash games and maybe some one-on-one games. I’m looking forward to this. It’s relaxing for me, and I get to meet people.”

Moneymaker became a huge name in poker when he won the world title and its $2.5 million top prize. The popularity of the televised event made him a household name and helped create the poker boom.

“I traveled before the crackdown (Black Friday), but I also played a lot of online poker,” the 35-year-old Moneymaker said during a meet-and-greet before the grand opening tournament being played in his honor. “Now I have the time to do a lot of things.”

When asked about the new poker room, Moneymaker said, “The room has a Vegas-type of feel. It’s better than Vegas because you can walk around. The Vegas casinos put their poker tables so close together,”
Poker room manager Christine Stacy and her staff did an excellent job with the event. The feel to the room is truly amazing and you can tell everyone is excited about the new room.

Said Fred Buro, the casino’s president and general manager: “We’re seeing players from all over the tri-state area and from as far away as Mississippi, Las Vegas and Atlantic City. The crackdowns have enticed poker players to come out of their homes and back to the poker parlors.”

The poker room is open 24 hours and can expand to 12 tables if needed. The $25K main event single-table tournament lasted close to five hours.

Jeffrey Galkowski, a Pleasantville, Pa., native, took down first prize. Jasmin Omanovic of Erie knocked out Moneymaker in eighth place when Moneymaker’s A-K lost all-in to Omanovic’s A-A.

— Mike Owens is the Ante Up Ambassador for Western Pennsylvania and West Virginia. He’s a poker player, journalist and creator of CheckRaze.com. He can be reached at anteupowens@gmail.com.

$25K SNG w/Moneymaker

1. Jeff Galkowski, Pleasantville, Pa., $10K
2. Jeff Wells, Union City, Pa., $5K
3. Jasmin Omanovic, Erie, Pa., $3K
4. Dana Mays, Erie, Pa., $1K
5. Wendy Prez, Poland, Ohio, $1K
6. Michael Salem, Ohio, $1K
7. Eric Thompson, North East, Pa.,$1K
8. Chris Moneymaker, $1K
9. Brian Bott, Poland, Ohio, $1K
10. Donald McKieman, Erie, Pa., $1K