Mike “The Mouth” Matusow has led anything but a peaceful life. Despite some tough years when he was growing up – which could even have toughened him up -, being drug dependent and going to prison, the notorious American has managed to remain among the poker elite. And, perhaps he has finally gotten his intense life into order. At the poker table, Mike Matusow continues to deliver, which his victory in the 2008 WSOP $5,000 No Limit 2-7 Draw Lowball certainly showed.
Mike Matusow has lived through 40 years of ups and downs, some at the poker table, but mostly off to the side. Mike grew up in Las Vegas and had a pretty tough upbringing, not being as successful as most of his classmates, especially in terms of sport. This led to, among other things, his being bullied at school. Despite Mike’s lack of sporting prowess at school, it still harboured an aspect that would later make him into a winner.
Mike Matusow is an out and out competitor
Mike Matusow was actually a competitor, regardless of whether the game was bowling, racing or pool. But, when the 18 year old Mike made contact with poker, the bits fell into place – even if it would take a while before he was able to make a living from his new interest.
In the beginning, Mike “The Mouth” Matusow played video poker at the smaller casinos and his first win, of around $85, meant that the hook had sunk deep. The “real” poker began at the beginning of the 1990s. As his funds began to grow, Mike Matusow dared to test his wings in higher stakes games, especially in Omaha 8 or Better, which had become a bit of a specialty for Mike.
Mike Matusow’s tough years
As with so many others who experience meteoric success, things may have gone a little too fast for Mike, who had difficulty in handling the situation. Once he had reached the level where he was regularly playing against the world’s best, in Las Vegas, that is when adversity hit. After gathering together a respectable amount of prize money, which only got bigger when Scotty Nguyen – backed by Mike – won the $10,000 No Limit Hold’em World Championship at the WSOP, he was introduced to a new world. One that would lead him to severe problems with drugs, shady business and depression.
The remarkable thing is that up until he was 32, Mike Matusow was strongly against drugs. But, when he was unexpectedly eliminated from a tournament, he found consolation in ecstasy. Not long after that, he was hooked, largely in part to the help the drug provided him in focusing on his game. At least, it did so in the beginning. However, afterwards came the collateral effects – his games deteriorated and, at the end, Mike felt he was no longer playing at the same level. But, instead of quitting, he moved on to speed.
However, the constant drug-fuelled partying downtown meant the police got on his trail and, in 2003, Mike was arrested in his home after a narcotics officer had infiltrated his circles. Despite the fact that Mike had been drug-free for four months by that time, a short prison stretch awaited him. But Mike “The Mouth” Matusow would return.
The Mouth’s poker merits
In the middle of the tough times, things actually went a bit better at the poker table. In 2002, Mike won his second bracelet at the $5,000 Omaha Hi/Lo Split event. His first bracelet had been secured back in 1999, although at the $3,500 No Limit Hold’em event. Mike picked up his third bracelet as recently as 2008, when he won the $5,000 No Limit 2-7 Draw Lowball event from Jeff Lisandro and Barry Greenstein. Furthermore, as we write, Mike is currently in 19th place in the accumulated prize money rankings.
As we can see, Mike “The Mouth” Matusow’s life has always been eventful. And we have yet to mention his fiery temper at the poker table. But, that is for another chapter in the life of one of the poker world’s biggest profilers.