The 40th Annual World Series of Poker is only weeks away. Between now and the start of the Main Event BluffMagazine.com will be presenting the 40 Greatest Champions in WSOP history exclusively on WorldSeriesofPoker.com.
Mike “The Mouth” Matusow has had one of the most storied poker careers ever captured by ESPN’s cameras. The three-time bracelet winner has more triumphs and tragedies in the glaring spotlight than anyone in recent poker history. His high profile personality and need for action has made him one of the most compelling figures to watch in recent years.
Matusow has $6 million in career earnings and untold of wins and losses from prop bets and sports betting. His most recent bracelet came in 2008 when he won a No Limit Deuce to Seven Lowball Rebuy event. He has another bracelet from winning a $5,000 Limit Omaha Hi/Lo event in 2002. His first bracelet win came in 1999 in a No Limit Hold ‘Em event.
He has had multiple deep Main Event runs and made the final table twice; once in 2001 where he took 6th place and a 9th place finish in 2005. He won the Tournament of Champions in 2005, which was good for a million dollar payday.
Matusow struggled from personal demons in the early part of the decade where he spent six months jail on a drug charge in 2004-2005. Infamy followed with the term “Mike Matusow Blow Up” where he would undo hours of solid poker with one bad hand.
But not all of Matusow’s life is tragic; he has had triumphs as well. He won $100,000 from Ted Forrest in a weight loss bet where he lost 60 pounds, arriving at the 2008 WSOP at 179 pounds. He had an amazing 2008 amassing $1.1 million in tournament winnings due to the power of positive thinking.
Matusow has been a polarizing force in the course of televised poker. ESPN cameras made it easy to hate him, editing together his aggressive table talk in a way that soured many casual fans. He was even shown belittling eventual 2004 Main Event winner Greg Raymer in an instance that Matusow contends was taken out of context. Viewers either loved him or hated him.
Matusow has become a fan favorite since turning his life around. His triumph of defeating his personal problems and his delicate humanity has endeared him into the hearts of many. Should Matusow finally win a Main Event title in the future not even Hollywood could write a more compelling story.