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Friday, October 28, 2005

Mike Matusow appears on Fox Sports show Learn from the Poker Pros

Mike Matusow, after his fantastic final table finish at this years WSOP is now making guest appearances on the new Fox Sports show Learn from the Poker Pros which features the pros from Full Tilt Poker as teachers.

In the latest show this week, he gets into a heated debate about a hand that he played with Daniel Negreanu in a major tourney. They both had the same hand 7 9 and Mike raised with position against Daniel. Daniel thought about it and called his raise, the flop comes 9 X X and Daniel effectively puts Mike all in. Mike thinks about it and goes all in for the rest of his chips (Daniel was the chip leader and would have eliminated Mike at this point). After turning up the same hands and splitting the pot, they both chattered about how the others play was bad. In my opinion, I think Daniel made the right play with his larger stack and the fact that his read was that Mike was simply playing position. The raise was too large to really signify a big pocket pair so Mike had to be on a bluff with overcards or at best a slim favorite with a hand like 9 8 or better. I think in the end, Daniel made the right call.

BTW, if you'd like to play with Mike you find him most of the time at Full Tilt Poker online playing many different limits and games.
Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Drugs, Jail, and a little poker on top. AKA Mike Matusow sentenced for drug conviction

I have just returned from a morning at the Clark County Courthouse and need to post while everything is fresh. I was in Judge Mosley’s, Clark County District Court Judge Department 14, courtroom to offer my support to Mike Matusow on this black day in his life. He was there to be sentenced for his guilty plea to a felony count involving illegal drugs. Mike had agreed to a plea negotiating that required him to do six months detention (too bad he didn't have internet in jail, he could have passed time playing at Full Tilt).and months of probation. The Judge was not bound by the agreement and could impose whatever sentence he deemed necessary to protect the good citizens of Clark County. His Honor chose to honor the agreement and Mike was sentenced to six months confinement in the Clark County Jail located in downtown Las Vegas. Mike was immediately cuffed and taken away to begin doing the time. Mike will be housed about a city block’s distance from Binion’s Horseshoe where he has won multiple WSOP events and bracelets. His success at the high stakes tournaments made him a known entity throughout the poker community. His success is probably the biggest contributing factor to his current problems.

I chatted with Mike and watched the court proceedings progress with bad guy after bad guy appearing before the Judge. A stoic Mike had come prepared with his poker faced persona and carefully watched the room while awaiting his turn. One sentencing involved a young man that had participated in felony vandalism and destruction of private property, he and his friends wandered through a Vegas neighbor one night and torched autos parked in driveways resulting in thousands of dollars of losses. He was sentenced to supervised probation and told not to engage in destructive behavior again, no jail time. This guy is out on the street and I’m supposed to sleep well and not worry about my auto bursting into flames?

Mike and I talked about a number of topics including his final hand at the recently completed tournament in Aruba. Mike was in the small blind with a Q-9o and one caller. He completed his blind and the flop comes Q-8-5. Mike bet $120K and the other player raised putting Mike all-in with his call. The other player showed 8-6o for a pair of 8’s against mike’s pair of Q’s. The turn didn’t help either player and the river was a 6. Mike was knocked out of the tournament when his pair of Queens was beat by two pair. A three quarter million dollar difference. We discussed some of the details of his troubles and how he got into this trap. Although it’s not a simple story, it is one I have had to deal with before when a close family member was caught up in a very similar, well laid trap. Mike was befriended by a friend of a friend more than a year before his arrest. Over the course of the ensuing months they became best friends. His new friend decided one day he needed some coke to impress his “Mafioso style buddies” and leaned on Mike and his money to provide the drug. Mike found the drugs and when he handed them over he was immediately arrested and offered a deal to walk away if he would finger his source. Mike refused to do so and was promised he would do some long, hard time. Mike has never revealed the source of the drugs. I believe if the source was known, they would be another friend that is neither a major or minor distributor of illegal drugs, instead someone else doing a favor for a friend. This story is all too familiar and I’m beginning to believe it is a standard mode of operation among the narcs. Basically, if you can’t catch a real drug dealer then create one. The undercover cop that befriended Mike and the narc that trapped my relative spent considerable time and public money trying to arrest a drug dealer. In both cases there just wasn’t anyone at the end of the case so to justify their time and expenditures they had to create and arrest someone for drug dealing. That is why Mike is now in the Clark County Jail right now, to justify the thousands of dollars of public money spent on the undercover narc’s investigation. This guy was well paid to spend more than a year being Mike’s best friend. He got to live the high life without making a contribution to anything, community or otherwise. I have to keep reminding myself that many a narc is a former drug dealer that was too dumb to avoid getting caught and made a deal to join “team narc” (regular paycheck and benefits) and rat out their former buddies, the bad guys.

I will visit Mike at the county lock-up and check on his well being often during the next six months. I know how lonely and depressing confinement can be for anyone, especially someone as sociable as Mike Matusow. I would not be at all surprised if someday someone wins a major tournament and when asked where they learned to play such great poker they will say, ”I learned the game when I was in jail in Las Vegas with Mike Matusow, a champion poker player.”


Credit: LasVegasVegas.com