The upstart 28-year-old accountant from Spring Hill, Tenn., who
last year won the $2.5 million World Series of Poker, will defend
his title next month in Las Vegas.

SI: You've been called the Rocky of poker. Do you like that

Moneymaker: I've also heard that I'm the John Daly of poker. I
like Rocky a little better.

SI: What went through your mind when you saw yourself on TV?

Moneymaker: I thought, Lord, I'm fat! TV adds about 50 pounds to
you. But it was amazing to see myself. I now wish I hadn't shown
so much emotion when I hit some big hands because it looked like
I was rubbing it in people's faces. ESPN set it up a little bit
to make me look like an underdog, more so than I probably was,
but that was fine.

SI: Why is poker so addictive for so many people?

Moneymaker: It's an easy game to learn but a hard game to master.

SI: What do you need to be a great poker player?

Moneymaker: Lots of guts. No fear. The ability to read people.
And a very good memory.

SI: How do you tell when someone is bluffing?

Moneymaker: There's no set "tell" on anybody. A lot of it is
feel. Each individual has unique bluffs. You just have to find
them, which means you have to study an opponent for hours and

SI: How much better are pros than the people playing in a weekly
game in their friend's family room?

Moneymaker: The average guy doesn't know when to lay down hands
and can't pull off big bluffs. If he were to get in a game with
pros, he'd get destroyed.

SI: How often do you play?

Moneymaker: Probably 20 hours a week.

SI: Titans running back Eddie George recently asked you for some
poker lessons. How's that going?

Moneymaker: We've played only a couple of rounds, but he won a
tournament on Super Bowl Sunday.

SI: What's your favorite poker term?

Moneymaker: "I have the nuts"--the best hand.

SI: Finally, am I bluffing or not when I say this is the greatest
Q&A this magazine has ever done?

Moneymaker: [Laughs.] You're bluffing your hands off.

--Richard Deitsch

For more from Chris Moneymaker, go to

COLOR PHOTO: JOE CAVARETTA/AP Lived up to his name

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