Poker Legends: Mike Matusow
“One card is the difference between poker immortality and being a nobody. And there are so many one cards that happen to so many people.”
With over $10M in live earnings and 4 World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelets to his name, Mike “The Mouth” Matusow has proven himself as one of the greatest living poker players, but his skills on the felt aren’t what he’s most known for. After all, he’s called The Mouth for a reason!
Matusow is never afraid to speak his mind. Between his reputation for trash-talking, his famous “Mike Matusow Meltdowns”, and his prolific rants on everything from poker politics to social media to Barry Bonds, he has no problem running his mouth. “I’m a fun guy, I tell it like it is,” he said on the Poker Stories podcast.
Photo: The Hendon Mob
Embroiled in Poker Politics
Despite his winning record and dedication to building up the poker scene during its fledgling years, Matusow hasn’t yet been able to clinch a Hall of Fame title. He’s been nominated several times.
The reason, he says, is that Hall of Fame inductions are much more about “poker politics” than anything to do with skill or ambassadorship. “Who Doyle says gets in, gets in,” he says. Like becoming prom king, it’s much more of a popularity contest than anything else.
Since he has no problem speaking his mind, it’s not exactly surprising that the politics have kept him back from a Hall of Fame berth.
Drugs, Jail, Degeneracy
Matusow spent a 6-month stint in jail starting in 2004 after selling Ecstasy to an undercover cop. A true testament to the degenerate gambling life comes from his autobiography, Check-Raising the Devil, where he explains how he won a 250k poker tournament right before being sent to jail. He set 50k aside for bills while in jail and then gave a friend 200k to place sports bets on his behalf while was in. He then proceeded to lose all that money and came out practically broke.
He claims that he would only do drugs once a year—on New Year's Eve—but he also relates how he spent 72 hours straight one time on a single drug-fueled poker session. Whether he’s cleaned up or not, and no matter if he’s telling the truth or not, there’s one thing we can say for certain. Mike Matusow is a true Vegas degen.