It was a characteristically plain-spoken response from the 46-year-old from rural Maryland who had never flown in a jet plane before coming to Las Vegas in July to play -- and eventually beat -- many of the world's greatest poker players. Tuesday, he walked away with the $5.1 million purse after Joe Cada, a 21-year-old from Detroit, pushed him out.
Normally, potential champions are Type A glory-seekers, people who dream of being on TV and splurging on luxuries and soaking up all the media attention they can. Throughout the tournament, Moon has baffled onlookers as a plain-spoken guy who doesn't use the Internet, doesn't own a credit card and flat-out refused to sign any of the online poker Web site endorsement deals that are de rigueur for final table players.
Darvin Moon playing at the the World Series of Poker final table on Monday.
When it was all over early Tuesday morning, following four hours head-to-head and about 90 hands on the stage where illusionists Penn & Teller perform, Moon was beaten by someone very different: a gregarious, eagerly famous 21-year-old from Detroit. Moon wouldn't acknowledge that he was relieved to be able to return to anonymity, but he did tell a Washington Post reporter who was blogging and tweeting his every move, "Why is everybody so upset? It's all good. This is fun."
The break between July and the November finale was designed to give the nine finalists a chance to promote themselves and the tournament while leaving the ultimate result unknown as ESPN aired weekly shows of the summer's action. Moon, the chip leader, largely went back to work, talking to journalists if they caught him on his phone but declining to fly to Europe and elsewhere to play in poker events as other players frequently do.
"I'm not going to that stuff," he said. "I'm not interested in that. I may go to some other games, but I'm going to the ones I want to go to when I want to go."
None of this computed in the balloon-boy era and, in fact, was met with some hostility in a poker community that talks constantly about the importance of good "poker ambassadors." Even his new poker-pro pals seem to believe that Cada's victory may be better for the game.
"Darvin's a great guy and he's turning into a good friend of mine, but he is not a person who wants to go out there in front of the media and anything like that," said Dennis Phillips, who finished third in the 2008 World Series. "Joe will be more that way. So in that aspect, yes, there's a difference. But believe me, Darvin's a heckuva good guy."
Moon lives in Oakland, Md., where even his great-grandfather grew up and which boasts fewer residents than the number of contestants he outlasted in the tournament. He owns a logging business and drives to Yellowstone for hunting trips once a year. Also, he likes to play poker, earning entry to the World Series by winning a tournament at a casino in Morgantown, W.Va., that cost him $130 to enter.
His rough-edged demeanor served him well at the poker table where he sat with a steady, inscrutable frown as his head rested on the palm of one of his thick hands. Even when he won big hands or busted someone out, his expression changed little. He said later he felt it was rude to appear to celebrate someone else's ouster.
Moon received his minimum payout of $1.26 million for finishing in the top nine before departing Las Vegas in July. Most of it's in the bank, but he did buy new logging equipment and a new pickup. He and his wife, who have no children, also accelerated previously laid plans to replace the 14-by-70-foot trailer they've occupied for 17 years, but the new house, also a modular, will be no bigger or fancier than they previously had planned for, despite the money.
"He almost has roots in the old pioneer West or something of people who went into the woods," said Nolan Dalla, media director for the tournament. "Living a rural lifestyle with his family and parents, he has no use for the perks of the modern society. That's pretty unique in the poker world because it's all about money and fame and glory. He's the antithesis of that."
Indeed, asked how he liked Las Vegas, Moon replied, "It sucks. Too many people, too fast-paced for me."
Had he seen any shows or had any great meals?
"I had a good shot of whiskey in the casino at 5 a.m. this morning."
Of the media circus that engulfed him?
"I'm as uncomfortable as hell."
And what about all the money he just won?
"No, Uncle Sam won a crapload. And what'd he do?"
And he had exactly the response one might expect for his plans when he gets back home.
"I'm gonna change my phone number."