Can Fernando Pons Turn €30 into $8m in the WSOP Main Event?
The most famous "rags to riches" story in poker history is, of course, Chris Moneymaker's once-in-a-lifetime run to the WSOP Main Event championship in 2003.
The overmatched, amateur poker player and accountant from Tennessee turned an $86 satellite on PokerStars into $2.5m, a heads-up win over poker legend Sammy Farha and a career as the face of the global poker boom.
Thirteen years later Moneymaker is still going strong in poker and an entire generation of young players owe their careers to his amazing run.
Now Spain's Fernando Pons is experiencing his own "Moneymaker" moment as he's already turned a €30 satellite into a guaranteed $1m - and, possibly, $8 million and a new boom in Europe.
Similarities Don't End There
Beyond their similar, low-budget paths to playing the Main Event the parallels between Pons and Moneymaker don't stop there.
Pons also has an accounting background and is an amateur player who was making his first trip to Las Vegas. It was also his first career WSOP event and the only one he played.
Moneymaker won his satellite on PokerStars while Pons won his on 888poker. Pons won his €30 satellite which gave him a ticket to a €250 event that paid out with a full WSOP package including the Main Event buy-in.
Also like Moneymaker, when Pons won the Main Event buy-in his first choice was to take the cash or sell the ticket, but instead ended up playing.
Previous to making the final table and the November Nine, Pons' only career live scores were at his home casino on the island of Mallorca.
$1m Guaranteed, Long Way to Go
Make no mistake, Pons still has a very long way to go to recreate Moneymaker's famous journey to the top. With just 6,150,000 in chips Pons is the short stack and will start the final table with just about 10 big blinds.
Still, as we've seen many times in poker, a double up or two early can change everything and Pons might have an even more spectacular story to tell his friends come November.
As a member of the November Nine Pons has already secured (and received) a $1m payout so no matter where he finishes his return-on-investment is still astronomical.
With $25m still to be distributed, though, and an $8m first-place prize, Pons eyes are obviously set much higher. Here's how they'll reset when they return to play on October 30:
- 1. Cliff Josephy - 74,500,000
- 2. Qui Nguyen - 67,925,000
- 3. Gordon Vayo - 49,375,000
- 4. Kenny Hallaert - 43,325,000
- 5. Michael Ruane - 31,600,000
- 6. Vojtech Ruzicka - 27,300,000
- 7. Griffin Benger - 26,175,000
- 8. Jerry Wong - 10,175,000
- 9. Fernando Pons - 6,150,000