I was sorry to hear Saturday night of the death of Darvin Moon, due to complications from surgery, at age 56.
Darvin was the logger from western Maryland who earned a seat in the World Series Of Poker Main Event by winning a smaller $130 tournament at a casino in West Virginia. He’d never been on a plane, let alone in Las Vegas, when he showed up as just one of 6,494 players at the Rio in July, 2009. A week later, with the field narrowed down to the nine players who would return in November to compete for the bracelet and $8.5 million first prize, he stood atop the leaderboard.
When play resumed, Darvin managed to outlast ten-time WSOP bracelet winner Phil Ivey and almost everyone else before finishing second to Joe Cada, who was less than half his age. When it was over, Darvin had turned his $130 investment into more than $5 million.
Darvin reminded me a lot of my friend Dennis Phillips, who similarly won a Main Event seat the previous year by entering a satellite tournament that cost him $200, then went on to become the chip leader for the inaugural November Nine, before finishing third and winning $4.5 million. Other than financially, neither Dennis nor Darvin was changed by becoming multi-millionaires. They both remained grounded, nice, mature guys, without the ego or braggadocio of some of the younger guys who played poker for a living.
In January, 2009 — two months after Dennis’ third-place finish — he and I started a weekly poker radio show called The Final Table, and in December of that year, we had Darvin join us as a guest (you can listen to that conversation here). Off the air, Dennis offered Darvin some financial advice and they became friends. On the air, they compared their WSOP experiences, Darvin reviewed some of the hands he’d played at the Main Event final table, and he explained how the windfall wouldn’t really change his life that much.
And it didn’t. He made a few real estate investments, bought a couple of pickups and a tractor for his wife, Wendy, and became an ambassador for the Heartland Poker Tour thanks to his friendship with HPT honcho Todd Anderson. A couple of years later, Darvin was in St. Louis for the HPT’s 100th event, so he joined us again on The Final Table Radio Show (you can listen to that conversation here). In addition to talking poker, Darvin offered some advice for young pros about how to handle their newfound wealth after a big tournament score.
Darvin never considered himself a “poker pro.” He was more than happy to go back to the woods and run his logging company.
It’s too bad he and Wendy and all those trees didn’t get to have more time together.