Relive the 2003 World Series of Poker by watching all of the action on this two DVD set which features Chris Moneymaker, who qualified online for $40, taking home the $2.5 million first prize. The action, set at Binion’s Horseshoe in downtown Las Vegas, has an authentic poker feel to it, unlike the “Hollywood” effect that you get when watching the World Poker Tour. The announcers, Lon McEachern and Norman Chad do a great job of bringing the action to the viewer without the nonstop hyperbole that one experiences when watching the WPT.
All 7 episodes that originally aired on ESPN are included on this set. Unfortunately, if you’ve already watched all of these episodes on television, you won’t see any extra World Series action on the DVD set. Also included are three short extras, none of which add value to the box set. The first extra is a fifty nine second clip of ESPN’s Pardon The Interruption. Blowhard hosts Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon, whose only purpose it seems is to argue with each other, ‘discuss’ the World Series. Next up is a mildly amusing three minute segment with Kenny Mayne, who entered a satellite in an attempt to get a seat at the WSOP. Finally, ESPN’s Cold Pizza spotlights the World Series and Chris Moneymaker in this six minute extra.
Episode one features former World Series champions Doyle Brunson, Scotty Nguyen and the defending champ, Robert Varkonyi. Brunson quickly busts out and it becomes obvious Varkonyi is overmatched by the other players at the table. Nguyen is the only name player at ESPN’s premier table to survive the first day of action.
The second episode highlights former WSOP champions Chris Ferguson, Amarillo Slim and Phil Hellmuth at the main table. A great bonus for the Hellmuth haters is that Phil’s nemesis, Sam Grizzle, also sits on the table. Grizzle is relentless in his razzing of Hellmuth, but Phil gets the last laugh when he ultimately KO’s his arch enemy. Ferguson and Amarillo don’t last, but Hellmuth survives and is the only past champion from the table to move on.
Day 3 of the World Series is covered on the third installment of this set. Back-to-back World Series champion Johnny Chan along with Howard Lederer, Paul Darden and Chris Moneymaker are the main characters on the feature table. Lots of big names, but very little fireworks until the final hand when Moneymaker eliminates Chan with the nut flush.
Scotty Nguyen returns to the main table on the fourth episode along with Humberto Brenes and Annie Duke, who is eliminated towards the end of the program. Nguyen runs the bluff of the tournament against Brenes with an 8,3 offsuit. Men “The Master” Nguyen is introduced and locks horns with Howard Lederer but quickly folds to an all-in from Howard. Eliminated players at the feature table are replaced by Phil Ivey and Card Player magazine editor Jeff Shulman. The biggest hand of this session was when Moneymaker called an all in bet from Brenes’ with a pair of eights. Brenes appeared a winner with aces, but Moneymaker hit an 8 on the turn to eliminate Humberto.
Episode 5 focuses on a table with notables such as Hellmuth, Men and Scotty Nguyen, Sammy Farha and former World Series of Poker champion Dan Harrington. Hellmuth fans will be disappointed as he’s crippled by Jason Lester’s set of jacks on the river, which overtakes his pocket queens. A couple of hands later, it’s all over for Phil when his AK is beaten by pocket tens. A short segment concentrates on Dutch Boyd, but what ESPN forgot to mention was the Poker Spot fiasco which Boyd was a part of where a lot of people were ripped off for a lot of money. Justice is served when Boyd gets a couple legs knocked out by Moneymaker, who finishes the episode up by eliminating Phil Ivey.
Nine players make up the final table on the second to last program on the WSOP box set. Known players include Moneymaker, Harrington, Farha, Lester, David Grey and Amir Vehidi. Moneymaker’s luck continues as he finishes off Grey by playing 5-4 offsuit, which hits two pair. Farha runs the bluff of the day when he pushes Lester off his top pair. Vehidi tries to turn the tables on Farha with a bluff, but he gets called down and Farha eliminates him to close this episode.
The 2003 World Series of Poker champion is crowned on the seventh and final installment. The five finalists competing for the $2.5 million dollar prize include Moneymaker, Farha and Harrington. The number drops to two after Moneymaker knocks off Tomer Benvenisti, Jason Lester and Dan Harrington. It’s disappointing that out of 322 minutes of televised action, only 10 minutes are devoted to the heads-up between Moneymaker and Farha. On the final hand of the 2003 WSOP, Moneymaker holds 54os and Farha has J10os. The flop comes jack, five, four. Farha opens, Moneymaker raises and Sammy pushes all-in, which is quickly called. Moneymaker’s hand holds up and the twenty-seven year old accountant from Tennessee takes home the bracelet.