Now Peery has a chance at history. At the second break on Day 5 of the 2015 WSOP Main Event, Peery had the chiplead with just 139 players left in the field. That might make up for the fact the Peery nearly had half of Moneymaker’s action in 2003.
Moneymaker was at the final table of the satellite that would ultimately award him his seat in the 2003 WSOP Main Event when it got down to four-handed play. The top three spots awarded seats and fourth was $8,000 cash – and Moneymaker badly needed the money to take care of some credit card debt he’d built up.
Peery stepped in and offered Moneymaker a solution he couldn’t turn down.
“He was like ‘Dude, come on man, just take the seat, you’re good enough; you can do it.’,”recalled Moneymaker in a 2013 interview. “I said ‘Man, no, there’s no way.’ And he said ‘Listen, take the seat, I’ll give you $5,000, I’ll take half your action, and we’ll split it. And then you’ll have the $1,000 extra or that you get for travel expenses. So you’ll have like $6,000 in cash, you’ll have a Main Event seat, and you can take care of some of your bills and all that stuff from that other money.’ I was like ‘Cool. OK. That makes sense. I’ll do that,’” said Moneymaker. “We had a little bit more discussion, we couldn’t come to an agreement, so we all just said let’s play.”
Shortly after Moneymaker won the seat, Peery’s half of the $10,000 buy disappeared in a matter of days.
“We blew the money the weekend before in Tunica,” said Peery. “That’s the truth. Man, I don’t even remember what we were playing, if it was table games or poker or what. That was a bad, expensive weekend, huh?”
Moneymaker didn’t completely forget that Peery pushed was the one that pushed him into that life-changing moment, and the pair remained friends until Moneymaker moved out of town.
“We hung out a lot, I took care of him a little bit at that time,” said Moneymaker, “But then I moved to Memphis, he was doing some business in Nashville, and we sort of fell out of touch.”
It was a pause in a friendship that dated back to when they both attended the University of Tennesee.
“We were good friends in college, we went to school in Knoxville together,” said Peery.
“We were fraternity brothers,” said Moneymaker. “We lived together off and on through college and basically hung out from my sophomore year all the way through graduation.”
After a few years where there was no contact between the two of them, Peery headed back to the scene of where he lost half of Moneymaker’s Main Event buy-in – which also happens to be where Moneymaker now resides.
“We reconnected recently here in Tunica, but for a while there we were just doing our own thing,” said Moneymaker.
They met up again in Las Vegas, as Peery found Moneymaker in the field and chatted him up. Moneymaker first found out that his old friend would be joining him in the field during this conversation, but didn’t really give it much of a second thought.
After he busted out of the Main Event and headed back home to Tunica, Moneymaker was casually keeping up with the tournament a few days later when he stumbled upon Peery’s name in the chip counts.
“I knew he was playing,” said Moneymaker. “He came by on my Day 1, 1B, and said hello. We talked for about five minutes and I asked him if he was going to play and he said he was going to buy in the next day and we sort of left it at that. About Day 4, I’m back at home looking at the leaderboard and saw he had half a million in chips.”
With a horse in the race, Moneymaker started paying a little more attention to Peery’s status as he got deeper and deeper. Then Peery reached out directly and delivered the improbable and fantastical news, which Moneymaker promptly shared on Twitter.
— Chris Moneymaker (@CMONEYMAKER) July 12, 2015
“I started sweating a little bit at that point, and then a little while ago he texted me and said he was the chipleader,” said Moneymaker. “When he sent me a message on Facebook, I knew it was probably something really good or really bad.”
For Peery, the Main Event was his only shot at a tournament during the 2015 WSOP – and that’s completely by design.
“This really the only tournament I played, I had to take some time off,” said Peery. “I enjoy ‘em, they’re fun, but there’s too many of them for me and these young kids just play better than I do.”
As Peery headed off to break, he was filled with nervous energy that he tried to walk off as he headed towards the front of the casino. His feelings mirror those of many suddenly thrust into the spotlight on poker’s biggest stage, and Peery struggled to find words to describe what was going through his mind.
“It’s unreal man, are you kidding?” said Peery. “But I guess you’ve got to get lucky to win.”
For Moneymaker, who’s life changed after Peery followed his path to victory in that fateful online satellite, the tables have turned some 12 years later.
“I’ve got a good sweat now.”
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