Also known as ‘The Mouth’, Mike Matusow is one of the biggest trash-talkers of the professional poker scene. He never hides his emotions, and often blows up or ‘melts down’ as they say, completely ruining an otherwise excellently played tournament through a few bad calls and mistaken reads.
The truth of the matter is, he often seems haunted by bad luck, losing to worse hands on all-ins, and I must say I would probably have blown up myself if I had had to take some of the bad beats I saw him endure.
Born in 1968, in L.A., Matusow’s childhood wasn’t all sugar and spice to say the least. He was bullied in high-school and he never attended college. As soon as he felt rid of the obligations compulsory education had placed on him, he got a job as a mechanic and never looked back. He had discovered video poker at the age of 18 in the Maxim Casino and soon, he became addicted. The problem ran so bad, that at one point he grew to steal money from his mother to feed his addiction. He took part in Gamblers Anonymous meetings several times to tackle his problems.
The big positive change in his life came about when he got a job as a dealer in Sam’s Town Hotel and Gambling Hall in Vegas. There, he had a ring-side seat that allowed him to study players, betting patterns and other strategic subtleties. A rounder named Steve Samaroff, whom he met in the casino, bankrolled him for a smaller tourney which he won. His game simply took off from that point onward. Early in his career as a poker player, he won 51 sessions out of 53, which allowed him to build up a serious bankroll of about $250k, and hit the big scene.
Matusow made money on poker even when he did not play himself. In 1998, he paid a part of Scotty Nguyen’s buy-in to the main event, which proved a very inspired investment as Scotty went on to win the Championship and to give Mike a third of the prize (about $333k).
Mike’s first WSOP bracelet came in 1999, in a $3,500 NL Holdem event. He repeated the performance in 2002, pocketing another gold bracelet in the $5,000 Omaha Hi-Lo event, together with a prize-money of $148k.
In 2001, he reached his best ever Big Dance finish, ending up in 6th place. In 2004, he again stood out at the Main Table, although that time, for all the wrong reasons. He verbally assaulted eventual winner Greg Raymer. In 2005, he returned with a vengeance and finished 9th for $1 million.
Another WSOP win of his is the 2005 WSOP Tournament of Champions title, which he obtained by beating Hoyt Corkins in heads-up.
Altogether, Mike Matusow has 21 WSOP money finishes.
He also has 4 final table presences in WPT events, (the first of which came in 2004, in the Aruba Classic) and finished in the money 6 times.
He played in the EPT’s 2006 Barcelona event, but he didn’t reach a noteworthy position. He also appeared in a few episodes of Poker After Dark and High Stakes Poker.
As every controversial personality, Mike Matusow has a bunch of fans but probably just as many haters. His personal life wasn’t exactly a model of healthy lifestyle either, up until recently. He even did time in 2004-2005, for possession of cocaine.
Nowadays though, he appears to have put all those problems behind. As he seriously cleaned his act up in several respects, his game has improved and his fan-base increased. He is now regarded as the best Omaha Hi Lo player in the world, and definitely a presence to reckon with at any Texas Holdem table he plays at.