Mouth on the Move: Mike Matusow Bringing the Heat Playing for Father and Aunt

Mar 4, 2019

By Sean Chaffin

Mike Matusow

It’s been eight years since Mike Matusow (pictured) last cashed in a WPT event. With some health issues, he hasn’t played too many. A WPT win has always been one of his goals, and this week he brings some extra motivation to the table this week in the WPT L.A. Poker Classic.

“There’s nobody who wants it more than me or needs it more than me,” he says. “My dad’s been in the hospital for eight weeks and my aunt recently died. I was out here for the funeral, so I’m kind of playing for them.

“It’s been a really rough few weeks, but my brain has somehow, some way, been really focused the last three days. If my brain continues to work the way it has over the last three days, I’m going to have a shot – and that’s all you can ask for.”

Big Hand Bonanza

As the bubble burst on Day 3 and the tournament moved into the evening, Matusow was closer to accomplishing that goal. After being on a smaller stack later in the day, a couple of big hands played out that had him at 467,000 at the third break in the day.

In one key hand, Matusow found a nice double up with pocket kings and was a bit surprised at the hand he was up against.

“I’m playing as tight as I can play,” he says. “I played one hand in eight orbits and I three-bet the guy, and he four-bets me. I had two kings for like 50K more and he’s in the tank. I started laughing and thought, ‘Oh my God, he’s got shit.’ Then he called and had Jack-Queen offsuit and I doubled up.”

“I was a little shocked at what the guy turned over. I’ve not been getting out of line at all. It feels good. I have my patience and I always know that when I have my patience, good things happen. I wait, I wait, I wait. I pick my spots and then good things happen. My brain could blow up at any time like it always does, but I don’t see it happening – not this week.”

WPT Veteran

No stranger to WPT success, Matusow has had plenty of big scores on the tour. That includes more than $1.9 million in winnings and five final table appearances. He’s come up just short of adding his name to the Champions Cup on a few occasions.

In Season III (2004), he finished third in the Aruba Poker Classic for $250,000. Matusow came up just short of a title in Season VI (2007) when he took runner-up for $671,320. He added another third-place result in Season IX (2011) at the Bay 101 Shooting Star for $369,800. His WPT resumé also includes two sixth-place finishes and one ninth.

As players headed to the third break, Matusow raked another nice pot with Ace-King. Things were looking up for “The Mouth” and he’s confident in his game.

“These people play every tournament,” he says. “This is the first No Limit Hold’em tournament I’ve played in two years, and I’ll still play better than all these people. They can take their GTO and do this [he makes a hand gesture]. I can read. I can see things. I see everything.”

Matusow is one of the more decorated and well-known players in poker. Along with two final table appearances in the World Series of Poker Main Event, he also has four bracelets and $9.5 million in live tournament winnings. A Remington trophy from the LAPC championship event would be a nice addition to his collection.

Off the Tournament Trail

Dealing with back issues requiring surgery as well as some other ailments over the last few years has been a struggle and frustrating for Matusow, who got his start dealing poker.

“I’ve been really sick for four years,” he says, “so I haven’t been able to play a lot of tournaments.”

A Las Vegas resident, he still plays at the WSOP but is glad to be back chasing a dream of finally knocking the door down and adding a title. Winning a WPT title remains a top priority and with his game coming together here in Los Angeles, Matusow believes he has the chance to do it.

“It feels good,” he says. “I plan on winning. It’s something I’ve always wanted. I know they’re so tough now because everybody’s so good. But I’ve got a good shot, I’m really playing well.”

The cards continued to roll his way later in Day 3. In Level 17, Matusow picked up pocket Aces to eliminate Brett Murray and move his stack up to 640,000.

Sporting his Vegas Golden Knights shirt and hat as he waged poker war in the field at Commerce, Matusow still chats away at his table as his nickname implies but is determined to be back for Day 4.

What are his thoughts on the opportunity for a bit of a “home field advantage” at the LAPC final table in Las Vegas on March 11 at the HyperX Esports Arena at Luxor Hotel and Casino?

He simply says: “I just hope to God I’m there.”

Sean Chaffin is a freelance writer in Crandall, Texas, and his work appears in numerous websites and publications. Follow him on Twitter @PokerTraditions.

Looking to win your way to a World Poker Tour event for your shot at becoming a WPT champion? Play for your chance on, where eligible VIP Members can play for over $100,000 in cash and prizes each month, including seats to WPT events, no purchase necessary.

Recent Tweets @WPT