Andrew Moreno began Day 6 of the 2015 World Series of Poker Main Event with 5.32 million – good for sixth place overall on the penultimate day of the summer. He’s a cash game player who’s carved out $142,932 in tournaments since 2007 and he’s in the driver’s seat of stack he feels is destined for the November Nine.
“100% this was meant to be. I always found it strange when other people would say that,” Moreno said before cards hit the air. “But everything is just working for me – my game, the cards, my table draw. Yesterday I got in as a huge dog and and pulled an amazing suckout and at that point I knew I would be at the November Nine. I’m just here to make sure that happens right now.”
Moreno’s starting table may have been the toughest in the room: Matt Jarvis, Fedor Holz, Pierre Neuville, Max Steinberg and Steve Gross. Looking at the table he said, “I just want to get the cards in the air. The nerves and all that go away as soon as I get dealt in.”
You can’t talk about Moreno without mentioning his better half – Kristy Arnett, a WPT Season XIII Ones to Watch. Arnett earned a reputation as one of the hardest working people in poker media travelling the globe, first as a writer, then as an on-camera personality for PokerNews and now as a player.
Moreno and Arnett were married in 2011 and like most married couples, they’ve had a couple rocky spots. But Arnett feels that everything has been worth it. “I think that whenever humans experience things that are tough or experience adversity, it makes the high points higher,” she said. “It gives some contrast to all the emotions in life. It’s been tough but the last few months have been the best ever.”
Arnett shares a feeling a destiny with her husband. “It is absolutely meant to be. Even though we’ve both been in the game for ten years, he’s really put the blood, sweat and tears in,” she said. “I mean, he came up from tiny $5 games in Fort Wayne, Indiana and was a pro before his brother, before I was and he really led the way.”
Moreno led by example and didn’t take any short cuts to get where he is in the game. He possesses a Mid-western work ethic that’s typically low key. “I’ve been grinding out a lot of mid-stakes cash games the last six or seven years and I have a sense of confidence of knowing that I’m here on a stage like this, coming here and testing my skills. I feel I’ve put in the work. Actually, I feel that I have more live experience than 90% of the rest of the guys from grinding out my living.”
Moreno’s confidence was put to the test late on Day 5 when he was seated at Mark Kroon’s table. Kroon is a friend of Phil Hellmuth and after the 14-time bracelet winner busted he returned to support Kroon – support that included advice after every hand, talking to the table and even needling Moreno.
“Yeah, I know what I’m good at and I know what I’m doing,” Moreno said. “As animated as Kroon and Hellmuth were, I’ve been playing live poker for 12 years – I’ve seen it, I’ve heard it, I enjoy it and I just let it slide right off.”
But watching Moreno grind his way through the tournament is hell on Arnett. “Watching is super difficult because I can’t control anything – I don’t know what he has. It’s tough watching but it’s amazing and super exciting.”
Arnett isn’t used to watching from the rail. Her years in the poker media gave her unrestricted access to the tables. “When he’s playing I want to be there inside the ropes and I’m like, ‘What do you mean I can’t go in there? Don’t you know who I am?’ – I’m kidding. I was always behind the ropes but It’s cool to be on the opposite side of the ropes because I have friends on the inside and they’ll tell me what’s happening.”
Arnett’s friends are Moreno’s friends by extension and making friends is something that comes naturally for the extroverted Moreno. “When Andrew filled out the ESPN bio sheet he wrote down his hobby as ‘befriending strangers,'” said Arnett. “He’s so connected to his friends and family, that’s what he lives for.”
“Yesterday when he was all in with ace king against aces he was like ‘If I’m going to go out, at least I’m with my family’.” Arnett continued. “He just laid into us and we’re all there supporting him. That’s huge for him – the support from friends and family has been amazing, it really fuels him.”
That hand, that moment in time, had a big affect on Moreno. “To be honest, there was a real big shift last night when I won that real big hand, I knew this is what I want, this is what I’m going for, anything else – you know, it is what it is.”
The pokercentric family is something that Moreno values. “They really get it – I come from a poker family. My brother plays, my wife Kristy plays and my mom is learning how to play,” Moreno said. “It really helps to tell them what’s going on and they can help instead of giving blank stares.”
Moreno and Arnett recently returned to Las Vegas after moving to San Diego a year ago. “We’ve been in Vegas for eight years and it was great for our 20s and there’s things I’ll always love about Vegas,” Arnett said. “But we wanted to find a place that we felt like we could be like for a long time and raise a family. So we moved to San Diego.”
But before the WSOP the couple wanted Las Vegas to be part of their lives again. “We bought a place here but we’re not moving back,” said Arnett. “We’ll be going back and forth, which is the perfect combo for us. We can be crazy here, we can play poker here, but also have a really amazing family life in San Diego.”
A key friend in Moreno’s circle, Garry Gates, also played the Main Event and on Day 3 they got moved to the same table and sat next to each other. “The people I most don’t want to see (at my table) are my best friends,” he said. “Unfortunately, Max Steinberg is a great friend of mine but at the table we’re going to be tigers because this is where we’re at.”
Waking up to such a tough table draw on Day 6 and locking up a significant payout would be enough for most people to consider the event a win, no matter the finishing position.
“It wasn’t easy a lot of the time,” Arnett added. “I feel every moment and led to this one. Every downswing, every bad beat every close call has led to this moment and it was meant to be.”
But not Moreno. “No, this isn’t a win for me right now. I would have said yes when I had semi-deep in 2009. But I have one goal and that’s to win,” he said.
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