Matros the Magnificent!

New York Poker Pro Matt Matros Wins First WSOP Gold Bracelet

Dedicated Poker Pro and Teacher Collects $189,870 in Prize Money

Matros Earns a Career Breakthrough Victory in Limit Hold’em Battle

Matros Overcomes Huge Chip Disadvantage at Final Table – Goes from Eighth to First
 
For the tournament portal page including all official results for this event, click HERE.

OVERVIEW

Matthew Matros was the winner of the $1,500 buy-in Limit Hold’em event at the 2010 World Series of Poker.  It marked his first career WSOP gold bracelet victory.  The Brooklyn-based poker pro collected $189,870 for first place, and earned the self-satisfaction of finally triumphing at the world’s most prestigious tournament series, following a decade-long commitment to poker and the study of game theory.

Matros grew up on Long Island, New York.  He earned a degree in mathematics at Yale University.  He also received a Masters degree in fine arts from Sarah Lawrence University.  Over the years, he has applied his considerable talents to computer science, writing, and teaching.  Matros is the author of “The Making of a Poker Player,” which chronicles his early years transitioning from student/employee into a full-time poker pro.  Matros previously cashed in several major tournaments, including the New England Poker Classic (NEPC), World Poker Tour (WPT), and the World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP).  He also final tabled the second year of the Tournament of Champions (TOC) back in 2001.

Matros has also done quite well at the WSOP, finishing in-the-money 15 times.  In 2008, Matros cashed in the WSOP Main Event championship, finishing 78th out of 6,844 players.
 
This year's Limit Hold'em competition drew 625 players.  The top 63 finishers collected prize money.  
 
The runner up was Ahmad Abghari, a real estate investor from Los Angeles.  Former WSOP gold bracelet winners who cashed in this event included – Matt Keikoan (30th), Anthony Rivera (43rd), Andre Boyer (47th), and Phil Ivey (53rd).

THE CHAMPION  – Matt Matros

The $1,500 buy-in Limit Hold’em champion (Event #12) is Matt Matros, from Brooklyn, NY.

Matros is 33-years-old.   He was born in West Hampton, NY, which is located on Long Island.

Matros is married.

Matros graduated from Yale University with a degree in mathematics.  He later received an M.F.A. from Sarah Lawrence University.

Matros is a true renaissance man.  He is a writer, teacher, and poker player – with numerous interests and ambitions.  Matros wrote a revealing biography called “The Making of a Poker Player” (published in 2005), which chronicles his early years transitioning from student/employee into a full-time poker pro.

Matros is currently working on a novel.  It is not about poker.  He says he hopes to finish the book within the next year.

Matros worked as a software engineer before deciding to pursue a poker career.

Matros was a dedicated poker player long before the poker boom.  He final tabled the second year of the Tournament of Champions (2001).  He later cashed in several other major tournaments, including the New England Poker Classic (NEPC), World Poker Tour (WPT), and the World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP).   

Matros has been playing poker seriously since 1999 and has relied on poker for the majority of his income since 2002.

Matros has accumulated nearly $1.5 million in overall career tournament winnings.

Matros collected $189,870 for first place.  He was presented with his first WSOP gold bracelet.

According to official records, Matros now has one win, three final table appearances, and 15 cashes at the WSOP.   His career WSOP earnings now total $528,525.

Matros has many close supporters who are well-known poker pros.  The list includes Greg “Fossilman” Raymer, Andy Bloch, Jerrod Ankenman, Bill Chen, Robert “Action Bob” Hwang, Spencer Sun, Matt Hawrilenko, and Terrance Chan (who finished third in this event).

Matros has regularly attended poker community events including BARGE (Las Vegas), FARGO (Foxwoods), and ATLARGE (Atlantic City).  The annual gathering attracts a few hundred of poker’s brightest and most dedicated pros, semi-pros, and aspirants.  The BARGE community includes notable poker players such as Andy Bloch, Greg Raymer, Terrance Chan, Bill Chen, Jerrod Ankenman, Steve Brecher, Gavin Smith, and several others.

Matros was a regular player in a private poker tournament played at the home of 2004 WSOP Champion Greg Raymer when he lived in Connecticut.  The tournament was known as the Fossilman Invitational Heads-Up Poker Tournament (FIHUPT).  Matros boasted that he once finished second in Raymer’s tournament.

WINNER QUOTES

On how the tournament played out:  “I feel great.  I caught great cards today.  Actually, I lost a lot of big pots.  So, I was very happy I was able to come back a few times from being short on chips.  At one point, I was eighth in chips.  So, it was a combination of good cards, and minimizing losses and maximizing wins and basically running good and having the cards fall my way.”

On playing against his friend, Terrance Chan (who finished third):  “Having Terrance lose some big pots helped also.  He is an extraordinarily-gifted Limit Hold’em player.”

On his 10-year pursuit of a WSOP gold bracelet:  “I’ve really wanted to try and keep playing to try and win a bracelet.  It’s been my goal for a long time, which would put the cap on some accomplishments.  I made a lot of final tables at the WSOP and WPT and had some deep cashes in the Main Event.  What I had been lacking was the victory, so to come in first place here is really gratifying.”

On the preparation for becoming a winning poker player:  “I started studying the game in 1998.  I really focused and studied Limit Hold’em.  So, this is really the culmination of eleven and a half years of work.”

On what his first tournament victory means:  “It’s definitely a monkey off my back.  But I do not know if this is going to motivate me to play more poker or spend more time writing now, or maybe split my time.  But I think I can look at my resume now and say I’ve got all the pieces checked off.  I really had not had the signature victory, until now.”

On what poker means to his life:  “Poker is one of my two passions, writing being the other one.  I’ve been splitting my time between working on a novel which might not ever get published.  The writing world is much tougher than the poker world.  The poker world is tough – so that is really saying something.”

On how he expects his closest family members to react to his victory:  “My dad will be the most excited person on the planet tonight.  My wife is going to say, ‘It’s nice that you won; now when are you coming home?  She has her priorities right.  She will be happy that I won.  But she will be more happy when I get back home.”

THE FINAL TABLE

The final table consisted of no former WSOP gold bracelet winners, which guaranteed a first-time champion.

Four different nations were represented at the final table – Canada, Greece, the Netherlands, and the United States.

The final table began nine-handed.

Final table participants ranged in age from 23 to 54.

The runner up was Ahmad Abghari, from Los Angeles, CA.  He is originally from Iran.  Abghari made his second WSOP career cash in this event, worth $117,272.

The third-place finisher was Terrance Chan, from Vancouver, BC.  He is a former high-tech consultant who formerly worked for a major online poker site.  He now plays poker professionally.  Chan finished second to Hoyt Corkins in a 2007 WSOP finale.  He is widely-acknowledged as one of poker’s top Limit-game specialists – both live and online.  Chan now has 13 WSOP cashes and nearly half-a-million dollars in earnings following his $83,185 payout in this tournament for third place.

The fourth-place finisher was Georgios Kapalas, from Athens, Greece.  He cashed for the second time this year and earned $59,838.  Kapalas has previously cashed in a number of European poker tournaments, most notably three tour stops on the European Poker Tour (EPT).

The fifth-place finisher was Adrian Dresel-Velasquez, from Sacramento, CA.  He is originally from Nigeria.  Dresel-Velasquez is an ex-Peace Corps volunteer who worked in Guatemala.  He formerly served as the Assistant Attorney General for the State of Wisconsin.  Fifth place paid $43,647.

The sixth-place finisher was Jason Potter, from Tulsa, OK.  He is a poker pro who recently won an event at the Los Angeles Poker Classic.  His goal was to win a WSOP gold bracelet, but he had to settle for $24,198 for sixth place instead.

The seventh-place finisher was Jameson Painter, from Goodfield, IL.  This marked his third time to cash at the WSOP and was his third final table appearance.  He now has an 8th, a 7th, and a 5th-place showing over the past two years.  Seventh place paid $24,198.

The eighth-place finisher was Roberto Truijers, from Oostvoorne, Holland.  He was born in Spain.  Truijers works in real estate.  He made his third WSOP cash spread over the last three years and collected $18,385 in prize money.

The ninth-place finisher was Mark “Milkman” Burford, from Gloster, LA.  He earned his nickname by working as a dairy farmer prior to taking up poker as a profession.  This was Burford’s first time to cash at the WSOP.  He collected $14,149. 
 
The final table officially began at 5:05 pm and ended at 12:30 am.  The final table clocked in at 7 hours, 25 minutes.

OTHER IN-THE-MONEY FINISHERS
 
The top 63 finishers collected prize money.  Former WSOP gold bracelet finishers who cashed in this event included – Matt Keikoan (30th), Anthony Rivera (43rd), Andre Boyer (47th), and Phil Ivey (53rd).

Last year’s winner was Thomas Alenius, from Stockholm, Sweden.  He did not enter this event.

ODDS & ENDS

This is the 842nd gold bracelet event in World Series of Poker history.  Note:  This figure includes every official WSOP event played, including tournaments during the early years when there were no actual gold bracelets awarded.  It also includes the 11 gold bracelets awarded at WSOP Europe (to date).

The final table was played on the ESPN secondary stage.  The Main Stage hosted the $1,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em finale, which went on simultaneously.

The official WSOP gold bracelet ceremony takes place on the day following the winner’s victory (or some hours later when the tournament runs past midnight).  The ceremony takes place inside The Pavilion, which is the expansive main tournament room hosting all noon starts this year.  The ceremony begins at the conclusion of the first break of the noon tournament, usually around 2:20 pm.  The national anthem of the winner’s nation is played.  The entire presentation is open to public and media.  Video and photography are permitted by both public and members of the media.

Matros requested that the national anthem of the United States be played at his WSOP gold bracelet ceremony.

EVENT HISTORY

During the 1990s, WSOP Limit Hold’em tournaments routinely attracted the largest fields of any tournament anywhere in the world.  Several years, this tournament had twice number of entrants as the Main Event.  It was traditionally offered as the kick-off event over the first weekend of the WSOP.

Limit Hold’em made its debut at the 1983 WSOP.  The first Limit Hold’em world champion was Tom McEvoy. He went on to win the Main Event that same year.

The start of Limit Hold’em’s popularity can be traced back to California’s legalization of flop games (including Texas Hold’em) in 1988.  Prior to the late 1980s, Limit Hold’em was spread in only a few small Las Vegas casinos and underground games, located mostly in the American South.

Limit Hold’em was the king of all games during most of the 1990s, except in the Northeastern United States, where Seven-Card Stud was the dominant form of poker.  In fact, finding a No-Limit Hold'em game was next to impossible anywhere – except at the most prestigious events such as the WSOP and the Hall of Fame (now defunct).  In 2003, things started to change. No-Limit Hold'em quickly became the most popular form of poker played -- not only in the United States but worldwide.  Today, Limit Hold'em tournaments are relatively uncommon except in the biggest poker markets.  Confirming fears that Limit Hold'em’s popularity remains stagnant, turnout for this year's $1,500 buy-in Limit Hold'em championship declined for the fifth consecutive year (albeit very slightly).  The 2006 tournament attracted 1,069 entries. In 2007, the number declined to 910 players.  In 2008, the tally was 883.  There were 643 entries last year.  This year, the final number was 625.

The list of former Limit Hold’em champions at this level is quite an illustrious group.  Former Limit Hold’em champions include – Tom McEvoy, Berry Johnston, Humberto Brenes, Johnny Chan, Mickey Appleman, David Chiu, Jay Heimowitz, and Farzad Bonyadi.

TOURNAMENT PLAY

The tournament was played over three consecutive days, from June 5-7, 2010.

Matt Matros arrived at the final table eighth in chips out of nine players.

Matros seized the chip lead when play became three-handed.  He never lost his lead once he gained the chip advantage.

The final hand of the tournament came after Matros had used his big stack to grind down his final opponent, Ahmas Abghari to a small stack.  Matros was dealt     versus Abghari’s    .  After making an initial pre-flop raise with the suited big cards, Abghari found himself pot committed, even after missing the flop.  He was all in and watched helplessly as Matros won the tournament with a final board showing          .  The winning hand was two pair – queens and eights.   

2010 WSOP STATISTICS

Through the conclusion of Event #12, the 2010 WSOP has attracted 15,070 total entries; $25,935,000 in prize money has been awarded to winners.

Through the conclusion of Event #12, the nationalities of winners have been:

United States (7)
Canada (2)
England (2)
Hungary (1)

Through the conclusion of Event #12, the national origin (birthplace) of winners has been:
United States (5)
Vietnam (2)
Canada (2)
England (2)
Hungary (1)

Through the conclusion of Event #12, the ratio of professional poker players to semi-pros and amateurs who won gold bracelets is as follows:

Professional Players (8):  Michael Chow, Michael Mizrachi, Praz Bansi, Josh Tieman, Peter Gelencser, James Dempsey, Men “the Master” Nguyen, Matt Matros

Semi-Pros (0):  None

Amateurs (4):  Duc Pham, Aadam Daya, Pascal Lefrancois, Simon Watt  

Note:  A “pro” is defined as a player who makes the majority of his/her income from playing poker.  However, there is some debate as to whether players who have lucrative industry deals and backing should really be termed as professionals.  A “semi-pro” is defined as a player who derives some measure of income from playing poker over a reasonable period of time.  However, many semi-pros have non-poker related business interests which provide a majority of earnings.  “Amateurs” are players who have other means of support and do not play poker for income -- either part-time or full-time.  Each winner is judged on a by case basis.