You probably think Darth Vader says “Luke, I am your father”. He doesn’t. You probably think Queen’s ‘We are the Champions’ ends with an emphatic “…of the WORLD!”. It doesn’t.
And you probably think that– a fixture in every ‘greatest online tournament player ever’ debate – has won at least one PokerStars Championship of Online Poker title during a career that’s seen him win 30 PocketFives Triple Crowns (the most ever), top the global rankings 13 times (often for months at a time), and rack up $18.6 million in cashes (fifth all-time).
He hadn’t…until April. The legendary Brit finally clinched his first COOP title during the 2021 PokerStars Spring Championship of Online Poker, when. “It was nice to finally get the victory,” Moorman admits.
When he finally had all the chips in front of him, Moorman texted a friend: ‘Not bad for an old guy’. “It was an ‘I’ve still got it’ kind of thing,” he says. “When I first started playing everyone was older than me. Now I’m one of the oldest.”
Yet not a lot has changed for Moorman since he first started playing freerolls as a student in his late teens. Sure, he’s won millions, written two successful books, and earned the respect and admiration of poker players around the world, but he still loves to play as much as he ever did.
“When I saw the PocketFives #1 Number One competition, a lot of those players don’t play anymore, especially not online,” he says. “Someone asked me how long I’d been playing the other day and when I realised it was 15 years, it was kind of crazy. I still love it. I only started playing to have fun with my friends. To think I’ve made a career out of it is pretty cool.”
At 35, Moorman is now a poker veteran. But it isn’t a fluke that he – like athletes LeBron James and Cristiano Ronaldo – can remain elite well into his thirties.
“Strategies change and you have to adapt,” he says. “Everyone is going to have downswings and periods where they don’t feel good about their game. I often ask people to analyse my databases to see what I’m doing wrong.”
Even if you’ve enjoyed the kind of success Moorman has, he believes you always need to look at what you can improve. “You have to be humble and never think you’ve solved anything,” he says. “You just try and get better because everyone else is. You need to work in order to keep up.”
How does Moorman keep up? He watches training videos and buys courses. “I see what people are doing and try to develop my strategies against it,” he says. “I don’t play the high rollers with the same 100 players firing multiple bullets. Most of the tournaments I play have 500 runners or more, so I don’t really come up against the same opponents very often. I’m not really trying to play GTO perfectly. I try to develop strategies which counteract that.”
These days Moorman splits his time between the USA and Mexico, where he bought a house late last year so he could play on non-US sites. “I went down for SCOOP by myself to begin with,” he says. “Then a few friends came for the final weekend.”
It seems bizarre that Moorman–who has won an astounding 429 tournaments during his 15-year career–had never picked up one of PokerStars’ most prestigious trophies. After all, he’s won just about everything else, from major online titles to a World Series of Poker bracelet (2017) and World Poker Tour title (2014). But he went into SCOOP feeling like this was his year. “Before the series, my wife dreamt I was going to win one,” he says.
During the quarantine period, Moorman played more online poker than he had over the past five years. “I felt really good about my game and had decent results coming in,” he says. “My confidence was high, which is always a good thing heading into a series as there are always going to be ups and downs.”
He admits the grind was testing at times, mainly because he was on his own. “You can easily lose for multiple days in a row so it can be hard to keep your morale up,” he says. “When I finished playing, I’d cycle around the neighbourhood, grab dinner, get some fresh air, then come back the next day and try again.”
Just a few days after his maiden title, Moorman found himself deep in yet another big SCOOP event, the $1,050 Super Tuesday. After winning a big flip with 15 left, he felt like he was freerolling, but had a tough position at the table with the big stacks on his left. “I wasn’t getting any cards, so I just tried to ladder up,” he says. He did just that, finishing third for $100,518, even more than his victory prize.
“Normally when you finish third you think you could have done something differently, but on that occasion, I really felt like I did everything I could and I just wasn’t meant to win,” he says. “It definitely felt good to get an even bigger score right after. After that I was guaranteed to have a winning series no matter what.”
Coincidentally, both Moorman’s SCOOP title and his WSOP bracelet have come in Six Max events. He also had a second at the WSOP in a Six Max tournament for $716K in 2011. He admits they’re his favorite format to play. “Either I play Six Max really well, or I play nine-handed tournaments not so well,” he jokes.
Now he has his heart set on capturing a second WSOP bracelet. “I’ll be in Vegas for the WSOP.com events, then Mexico for the GGPoker series,” he says. “I’m always excited for the WSOP. I love crazy events with big fields. It’s a real buzz.”