The Rise and Fall Of Mike Matusow

If you were to choose one poker player as the basis of a Hollywood drama, then Mike The Mouth Matusows would surely be on the shortlist - but would it have a happy ending?

By: Andrew Burnett

All the riches, glitz and glamour that poker success could bring, and the almost inevitable fall from grace with drug addiction, jail time and $millions lost along the way. Matusow’s life story resembles as much of a rollercoaster as his poker career.

Mike found himself in a great position when the poker boom of the early noughties caught fire – two WSOP gold bracelets to his name and the promise of riches beyond compare to come as online poker took off.

It also, however, coincided with his growing need for drugs – ecstasy use turning into a meth and cocaine addiction, and six months in jail for drug dealing thrown in for good measure.

Before he could serve that sentence, however, there was the no small matter of the summer WSOP Main Event - and for Matusow it would be heart-breaking….

By now one of the most celebrated players in the poker world, and notorious for the foul-mouthed blowouts and needling that gave him his nickname, Matusow left jail and promptly became the first player to win $1million twice in a year.

His horrendous decision-making off the table, including turning down the chance to be part of the Full Tilt Poker setup, wasn’t mirrored by what he did on the table – a WSOP Main Event final table run and taking down the Poker Players Championship.

Matusow’s online poker results, though, couldn’t match his live prowess – and the graph below shows how $1million can be spewed away in three terrible years

…despite six-figure hands such as the following going The Mouth’s way. Nosebleeds are so named for a reason – it doesn’t take much to go wrong to win or lose $1million

Online poker was unkind to Matusow in more ways than one, Mike describing how the Ultimate Bet superuser scandal ‘destroyed’ him, accusing Russ Hamilton of stealing $millions from him in heads-up games.

A few years later Black Friday would hit and Matusow, an FTP sponsored pro raking in $millions, would again become embroiled in scandal as the scale of Full Tilt Poker’s Ponzi Scheme black hole became clear.

Matusow would later explain to CardPlayer’s Brian Pempus: ‘I had nothing to do with [the scandal]. All they did was destroy my life. But it’s not destroyed anymore. My life is as good as it gets’, The Mouth somehow emerging from disaster once again.

This time, however, the glory days were all but over for Mike The Mouth, the year 2013 the final time he would really trouble the scorers in the world’s biggest events.

Will there be a happy ending for Mike The Mouth? The man can still play, for sure, some deep runs in the WSOP this past year or two.

He has also recently launched The Mouthpiece podcast, boasting 9k subscribers just 6 months and 25 episodes in, and scooping the infamous Mike Postle in the alleged cheat’s only post-allegations interview last month.

Love him or loathe him, Mike Matusow rightly remains a legend of the game – will he rise again?


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