Whatever Happened To ... ... the poker champ who won millions?

Darvin Moon, a logger from western Maryland, is back in the spotlight as one of the two finalists in this year's World Series of Poker No Limit Texas Hold 'em main event.
By Kris Coronado
Sunday, November 21, 2010

After finishing second at the World Series of Poker Main Event in November 2009, Darvin Moon told The Washington Post that he and his wife, Wendy, "ain't gonna change."

They'd fly from Las Vegas back to their home town of Oakland, Md., and life would get back to normal. Moon would resume felling trees as owner of Moon Logging, and Wendy would go back to work as a pharmacy technician. Not exactly what you'd expect of a man who'd just won $5.18 million, but Moon isn't your typical high roller.

Beloved by fans for his long-shot status, Moon personified a hero's tale in the making. A casual player who took up the game a few years ago, Moon got his $10,000 World Series seat through a victory at West Virginia's Wheeling Island casino -- the buy-in was only $130. In Vegas, the affable 47-year-old was self-deprecating ("Darvin Gump!") and wore a New Orleans Saints hat to show his support for underdogs.

Fans may be glad to know Moon has kept his vow not to get carried away. He still does his logging business. "My goal is: When I turn 86, quit loggin,'" says Moon, whose role model is his father, active at 80. Wendy works part time at CVS. Moon still doesn't use the Internet or own a credit card: "Before I won money, I needed a credit card. Now that I have money, I don't."

That's not to say Moon hasn't indulged: He bought pickup trucks for various family members. He now owns four properties in various stages of development, including the farm he grew up on, where he's clearing land to build a home. The Moons are adding a poker room to their house, which sports a new two-car garage.

Inside that garage: a new Corvette. "I already have 5,000 miles on it," Moon says.

He made the purchase at an unlikely time: in July, the day after losing in the World Series' preliminary rounds of the 2010 competition. After his meteoric rise last November, Moon had slacked off, playing poker only seven times in the months leading up to the match. It showed. He was out of the tournament on the second day. "I just wasn't mentally prepared to play this year," he confesses.

Come 2011, however, Moon says he'll be ready. While he's not playing high-profile tournaments, he tries to hit smaller events at casinos such as Prairie Meadows near Des Moines and Wind River Casino in Riverton, Wyo., once a month. He's also not playing at his Elks lodge as often -- because of his success, he gets peppered with poker questions -- but would like to set up a charity tournament there in January to benefit a cousin struggling with cancer.

Will Moon ever throw in his cards for good? "I really don't know," he says. "I want to quit cutting trees at 86, so I'll be 96 before I want to quit playing."

Read the original story: The lumberjack fells some giants in Vegas


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