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Daniel - Poker Journal

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Mike Matusow on High Stakes Poker

01 Feb 2007

I just got a strange phone message from Mike this morning. He sounded legitimately upset at me for my comments during a recent episode of High Stakes Poker where I supplanted Gabe in the booth to do the commentary.

I guess Mike felt like I was crossing the line by badgering his play on a consistent basis. At one point in the booth, I even said, "I promised myself not to say anything nice about Mike while in the booth," in order to make light of the fact that I didn't like the way he was playing.

I found the phone call strange, only because I didn't say anything while in the booth that would have been different from what I'd say if I was at the table. I wouldn't mock or poke fun at just anybody. Mike, is an easy target because he regularly pokes fun at his opponents, me included. It never bothers me, as I'll usually try to come up with something clever to get him back.

So knowing our history, I couldn't figure out what exactly set him off about this particular incidence. I did some thinking, and figured that the key difference was that I was in the booth and Mike didn't have a chance to either A) defend himself, or B) come back at me with a funny comment or two... or three... or four... or five, lol.

Anyway, while I was in the booth I did my commentary as if I were at the table. I was obviously poking fun at Mike, but that's mainly because I've known him for years and we have been friends for a long time. Up until this point, I didn't think there was ANYTHING I could say to offend Mike!

I make it a rule to only poke fun at people I consider friends or people that I like and think can handle being needled. That's another reason I was so surprised to see that Mike took my comments to heart.

Anyway, I called Mike back and let him know that I was sorry if he took it to heart, and also explained to him that I was messing with him the whole time, hence my, "I promise not to say anything nice about Mike," comment.

In some ways, I'm not even sure if it was Mike that was really bothered by it, but more so, friends of his who don't understand how long we've been friends, how long we've been grinding it out in Vegas, and how much crap we give each other on a consistent basis!

I like needling him and Hellmuth both. For one, they are such easy targets :-), they dish it out, and are both good guys at heart who know that I'm messing with them.

After getting off the phone with Mike I'm pretty sure he knows that I didn't mean to actually hurt his feelings with comments about his play. It's no secret that we play a completely different brand of poker, both of which can be successful when done properly. He makes plays I'd never consider making, but that's part of what makes him a successful player.

He'll often take rather large risks fighting for smallish pots. When he is on his game, he wins those pots a very high percentage of the time. When he is off, he can often look foolish, making what's known as a "Matusow Blow Up" when he bluffs at the wrong pot, a la the pot against Phil Laak from season two.

Anyway, Mike asked me to let people know in my blog that we are cool, and that I don't think he is a complete donkey... all the time! :-)


As for me, I spent the other night at the bowling alley with my brother and some friends. The last time out I bowled terribly, averaging around 115. On this night, I had my mojo, with a 157 followed by a 133. The last two games I fell apart and gave all of my winnings back, with a pitiful 100 and a 107.

From there we headed to my friend Ted's place for pool and Mille. I ended up making a deal with Zvi, probably the best Mille player in the world, that we'd play three games of $1000-$3000 Mille, followed by a heads up no limit hold'em freeze out for whatever the figure was after Mille.

I was actually ahead of Zvi in Mille up until this set of games, but man was he ridiculously lucky this time out. He beat me the first game worse than any beating I'd ever seen. The game is played to a total of 1200 points, and he smoked me 1320 to -70! So sick.

I ended up losing all three games of Mille and was stuck $49,000 going into the heads up hold'em match. To increase my chances of holding him off, I made sure to put together a really slow structure:

10,000 each in chips, 20 minute levels:
300-600 etc.

He started out with a bit of a lead as he caught me trying to bluff about four hands in a row. That ended up being a really good thing for me in the long run, though, as the bluffs were cheap and it allowed me to switch to a very simple strategy of value betting with the best of it since he essentially turned into a calling station, despite the fact that I completely abandoned bluffing.

The final hand was a doozey, and it could have gone either way: Blinds were 100-200 and I made it 500 on the button with 7s 4s. He called in the BB with 2d 6d. The flop came 10h 4d 3d. Zvi checked, and I bet 800.

Zvi check raised me to 2000 and I called the bet. The turn was the Jh and Zvi bet out 2500. Based on the way he'd play hands up until this point, when he bet that Jack on the turn I felt strongly that he was on a draw. He had close to 3000 left after betting the turn, so the dilemma was whether or not I should just call to see if the draw hits first, or to raise him now before he gets there.

It was close to 5:00am by that point, which made me lean towards moving all in. I did, and he called obviously. The river blanked, and I escaped a rather significant beating of close to $100,000. Phew!


My sleep schedule is back on being a bit of a mess, especially considering that I've been waking up when my wife is off to bed! 5:30am this morning I woke up, and have been doing hockey research for a couple hours. Soon after this blog I'm going to try and write about 3000 more words for my book. If you want to read an unedited excerpt from the upcoming book, you can find it in the Poker Books section of the FCP forum.

Tonight, I'll be taking my family to a show, La Femme at MGM. Before then, I have an important meeting this afternoon which I'm looking forward to.

Tomorrow at noon I have a lunch meeting about another project that I'm excited about (no, I can't tell you what it is!), and aside from that, I'll just be sweating the hockey games, and the Raptors games too. The Raptors, at just 23-23 are leading their division! Man, are those two conferences lopsided or what?

If you are interested in Fantasy Hockey at all, my team, the Cheap Thieves are looking really solid right now in every aspect


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