Chris Moneymaker’s planned launching of a new social club offering poker continues on pace for a pre-Labor Day opening, with the new venue now looking at a possible Thursday, September 1 opening. In a largely rural area with plenty of poker interest but no formal venue competition, Moneymaker’s Social Club will debut in Paducah, Kentucky, as an eight-table room.
Not far east of the Ohio River’s confluence with the Mississippi is the city of Paducah, a city of about 25,000 located near Kentucky’s far western tip. It takes two hours or so to get to the closest major metropolitan area, Nashville, Tennessee, and the only other social poker room in Kentucky. The Royal Social Poker Club is located in London, in the east central part of the state.
Moneymaker’s Social Club will operate under the “social poker” business model that has proven effective in other states. The room will not charge rake, but will offer seating on a membership-fee basis.
The club was approved for a state license in early June
Moneymaker’s Social Club received formal approval from the Kentucky Secretary of State’s office in early June, allowing them to begin renovations in a space formerly housing a COVID-19 testing clinic. There is a small commercial/professional building on the western edge of Paducah that is close to the major highway.
Moneymaker won the World Series of Poker Main Event in 2003 and is the sole owner of the startup. Moneymaker remains a brand representative for Americas Cardroom, meaning he will be very busy as the new social club gets off the ground. Moneymaker’s poker offering has drawn a number of reports and a bit of social commentary, as evidenced recently by his friend, Phil Hellmuth, on Twitter.
The new club is not a low-risk startup. Moneymaker is the only social club in the state that has received local and state approval, and it is located in a region known for its heavy anti-gambling sentiment. The state’s commercial gambling offerings are dominated by the horseracing industry.
There is a curious history of poker in Kentucky. During online poker’s early years, it was the only U.S. state that conducted successful litigation against international operators who offered online poker or other gambling services to Kentuckians. In a historic lawsuit against PokerStars, aided by the questionable application of antiquated anti-gambling statutes, Kentucky eventually wrested a $300 million settlement from Stars’ current owner, Flutter Entertainment PLC, that lasted over a decade and involved three different PokerStars ownership groups.
Chris Moneymaker, a former World Series of Poker Main Event champion, is planning to open a poker club in Kentucky. Moneymaker’s Social Club will operate under the “social poker” business model that has worked well in other states. The room will offer seating on a membership-fee basis, but won’t charge rake.