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WSOP: The Matusow Penalty

by Allyn Shulman |  Published: Jun 16, '14

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Mike in one of his calmer momentsThere has been so much inaccurate discussion regarding the penalty issued to Mike Matusow by Dave Lamb that I feel the need to add some facts. But first, I want to say a bit about my past.

Having been a criminal defense attorney for almost 30 years, the nature of my profession included constantly being embroiled in conflict. After many long years of constant conflict with judges, prosecutors, biased cops, lying witnesses or sometimes even unruly clients, I retired. Although I dearly miss being in court, one of the really nice benefits of retirement is not having a constant knot in my stomach because the game is never played completely fairly.

Retirement is peaceful and my poker hobby is fun and invigorating.

All that being said, I am going to be the lone voice supporting the WSOP’s decision to give Mike Matusow a penalty. And let it be known that I have NO desire whatsoever to be involved in this or any other controversy.

When the $2500 OE tournament got down to 24 people, there was a redraw. I was moved to a table with Mike Matusow. From the moment we were seated, the players were subject to Mike’s constant stream of profanities. Whatever subject he was discussing included expletives such as Mike saying he had the worst F***ING* luck or some other F***ER did this or some ASSHOLE did this F***ING BULLSHIT. It was as if the table was his personal stage. His loud, fast-talking, ill-mannered, vulgar barrage was almost frantic like someone who had WAY too much coffee.

After listening to about 10 minutes of non- stop swearing, I started looking around for a floorman, to see if someone would tell Mike that his constant stream of vulgarities lacked civility and he needed to ramp it down. That never happened nor did the dealer say anything. At the time, I thought this was a mistake on behalf of the WSOP because if Mike had been put in his place, perhaps things would not have escalated. Recently I learned some additional facts I will address later.

On the hand in question, Mike was involved in a 3-way stud pot. Mike raised on 4th street, and while waiting for one of the players to act, Mike was staring at the player and mumbling something to him. The player was to my right and asked me what Mike was saying and if Mike was taunting him. Eventually that player folded.

After Mike won the pot, he started screaming he was the greatest F***ING player in the world, no one F***ING deserved this like he did, etc. He pounded on the table making the chips shake and then started running around the room whooping, hollering, yelling, jumping and swearing.

A number of players at the table who were obviously fed up with Mike’s shenanigans eventually called the floorman and asked about Mike’s excessive celebration.

IT WAS THE PLAYERS WHO COMPLAINED. Now why would the good folks at the table do that? Clearly Mike had been out of line since the redraw. So after he won the pot and continued his loud, foul-mouthed unruly behavior, some players finally had enough and complained.

Dave Lamb came over to the table to see what the commotion was about. He did not walk over and issue a penalty. He came over and asked what had happened. Immediately Mike got up into Dave’s face. Dave calmly asked Mike to step away from the table to discuss what had happened. Mike started going nuts.

Dave calmly, quietly but firmly asked Mike a number of times to step away from the table. Not only did Mike refuse to move from the table, he was up in Dave’s face yelling and cursing with his normal diatribe of vulgarities bellowing something like you can’t F***ING give me a BULLSHIT F***ING penalty; that would be the worst F***ING ruling in the history of poker. (with emphasis on the word F***ING.) It was only at that point that Dave Lamb quietly said NOW I am giving you a one round penalty.

Hurray! FINALLY someone said enough is enough.

I’m pretty sure the penalty was NOT for excessive celebration, but rather for getting into the face of a floorman and loudly swearing at him when the floorman was simply gathering the facts and accessing the situation. At least that was the moment when the penalty was finally issued.

I recently learned (from an interview Mike gave) that hours earlier, Mike DID receive a warning from Dave Lamb for his foul language. Although he received a warning, he ignored it and continued his constant stream of expletives.

What was also not reported was that during the one round penalty, Mike came back to the table STILL swearing, threatening and saying it was the worst F***ING BULLSHIT penalty in the history of the WSOP.

I said to Mike that he probably didn’t realize that every other word out of his mouth was the F Bomb. He replied that the rule changed and he was ALLOWED to swear as much as he wanted as long as it was not directed at a specific person.

Therein lies the entire problem. Even after the warning, Mike still believed it was okay to be vulgar as long as it was not directed at a specific person.

Rule 39B of the 2014 Official tournament Rules states that players are entitled to civility. Now that must mean something. More on point, Rule 45 states:

“Rio prohibits the use of obscene or foul language in any public area of the casino at any time. Any participant who uses such language or makes a foul, profane, obscene or vulgar statement, or speaks abusively or in an intimidating manner to another participant, a dealer or a Tournament staff member, will be penalized.”

I have read that Mike is on some kind of meds from which he is having a bad reaction and for that, I feel for the guy. However, I paid the same amount of money to enter the tournament and worked as hard to get that far. I’m trying to win another bracelet just like he is. It’s not the Mike Matusow show where he can vomit his vulgarities all over the room. He was loud, insolent, out of control and completely ill-mannered.

Another point that hasn’t been mentioned was that Mike only missed 6 stud hands. When we switched to Omaha, it was Mike’s big blind and even though he should have missed two more hands, Mike sat down, telling the dealer that the round was over. I am 100 percent positive that 8 hands had not been dealt because when Mike got the penalty it was the second stud hand and I counted, thinking that Mike would go nuts when we switched to Omaha and he had to sit out during his blinds. Instead he kept coming to the table, arguing and talking and swearing and complaining. It was classic Mike. I don’t think anyone wanted to have to deal with him anymore so the dealer just dealt him in. It was stressful for the entire table but no one said anything.

So when folks criticize Dave Lamb, at least know the facts: A player was loud, vulgar, yelling, swearing and up in the face of a mild mannered floorman who thereafter issued a penalty after previously having issued a warning.

Had the facts simply been that Mike was engaged in excessive celebration, I wholeheartedly agree that a penalty would have been totally outrageous!

Let me also add that the Shulmans have been friends and supporters of both Mike and Dave. I hope they are each successful in their endeavors. But in this instance, Mike was completely out of control and deserved exactly what he got. Sorry Mike.

Allyn Shulman has more than $1.2 million in tournament cashes and won a bracelet in the 2012 WSOP Seniors event. She is one of the world’s leading experts on online gambling law, a former Board member of Poker Player Alliance, and a member of the Women in Poker Hall of Fame.

 
Any views or opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the ownership or management of CardPlayer.com.
 

Comments

adbuster2375
5 months ago

Finally someone who was at the table speaks up. I'm sick of Negreanu and other pros spewing opinions on Twitter far removed from the black and white facts. About time for WSOP to end special treatment for the "star" degens. Just because you wore a Full Tilt patch back in the day doesn't mean you can be an asshat.

 
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Scott40
5 months ago

Thank you for a first hand account that actually makes sense of what went down.

 
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bmpek
5 months ago

played with mike and danny boy for years at the mirage and both have been nothing but trouble at the table for years. they never shut up and expect the other players to listen to their constant bull shit. good for dave lamb doing his job.

 
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SanDiego79
5 months ago

Mike, how shalt thou hope for mercy, rendering none?
This fellow is wise enough to play the fool.

 
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L2K4FC
5 months ago

Personally I can't put up with other people's crap at the tables. Famous or not. When a line is crossed then its time to act, not sit there and suffer in silence. What a moron.

 
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Herbie1
5 months ago

thanks so much for the precise explanation and backstory. Mike is an obnoxious pig. Yea, I heard all the good guy stuff....etc. F...k Him as he is an obnoxious fool. He is s nothing in real life and certainly not the best poker player on earth. And his buddies coming to his defense like Daniel just shut the F....k up. People are sick of you. I know I am. I would dread being at a table with him at WSOP and have to listen to all the banal crap that spews from his mouth. I am not afraid to play against him that is for sure as he has a propensity to spew chips with his INTERNATIONAL I am great at poker image. Ally...nice job and good for u for speaking the truth.

 
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TheFly
5 months ago

I just can't believe cocaine, ecstasy, anti-depressant & ritalin abuse would cause someone to become an emotional infant who lacks basic temperamental self-control.

You're an embarrassment to the game Mike, your constant stream of vulgarities is only a smokescreen for your own self-hatred, mildly masked by all the chemicals you ingest hoping to self-medicate. Just be thankful you'll always have that pea-brained Negreanu to give you a reach-around whenever you implode.

 
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Fish_N_Chips
5 months ago

Thanks for an ACCURATE and (mostly) unbiased account of the Matusow penalty. It's easy to criticize and rush to judgement without knowing what actually happened. I think Daniel Negreanu owes Dave Lamb an apology.

 
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Scott41
5 months ago

the author is manipulating the facts, Mike broke no wsop rule, therefore a penalty cannot be issued. Author mixed a rio hotel general casino rule (45) which is not applicable here, with rule 35b, also no applicable. Mike was issued a wsop penalty, and there is no defined penalty for a broken rio hotel rule besides discretion to remove a person from the premises. Therefore, the author is using a personal bias, and seeks to justify this bias by engaging in distortion of the facts. It's not accurate and the author knows damned well it isn't.

 
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joeypotsnpans
5 months ago

The only one manipulating facts would be you regarding your negative biased articles on MNKD. It is pretty funny when one calls the kettle black, especially when stating stop giving Jews a bad name...ala your bashing of Al Mann, an individual that has done more for society and through his philanthropy then you could ever even try to imagine...please practice what you preach Scott. Just an FYI, I was told (by the dealer) while playing in an event last week that if I used the F bomb in the context of telling a joke I would receive a penalty...therefore, I did not tell the joke at the table...from Allyn's account at the table it sounds like the behavior was fairly disruptive to the other players even if they weren't saying anything for whatever reason. Personally, I would have called the clock on him every time he started to mumble while it was his turn.

 
 

Jake6
5 months ago

Contradictory BS. He refused to leave the table apparently, but yet you say in the same breath that he was in Lamb's face. Every other player at the table was outraged on Mike's behalf. Don't know what your agenda is, but when everyone else who was there tells a vastly different story, you pretty much look like a scumbag posting this.

 
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BADUU
5 months ago

No Jake, defending him make YOU look like a scumbag. What possible reason would Allyn Shulman have to make any of the above story up?

Matusow has a history of these antics, and got what he deserved. The poker GODs were just by eliminating him a short time later.

 
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Scott41
5 months ago

This story is deceptive at best. Yes, the author has an agenda, She does not like the way Mike behaves, so much so, she mixed in a tournament rule along with a Rio casino rule = deceptive. Rule 45 is strictly a casino rule governing behavior in the casino. Mike could have been asked by a rio floorman to shut up or LEAVE, However in this case, rule 35b is strictly a WSOP, and there are no rules that state a penalty can be given for "Excessive behavior" The author shows a lack of understanding the rules and assumes, "I'm pretty sure Mike was penalized for getting in Dave's face." That is wrong. The WSOP clearly stated that Mike was being penalized for excessive celebration, a rule that simply does not exist.

So while you might not like the way Mike acts, and I don't like the way he behaves many times, u can't go making up rules and issuing a penalty when no specific WSOP rule was broken. It's clear, and no offense, you were a piss poor criminal defense lawyer. While certainty entitled to an opinion, you are not entitled to manipulate the facts, and mix a Rio Hotel rule (not enforcable by a WSOP official issuing a world series penalty) with a WSOP that does not apply here. This is why Mike was being defended by players and rightfully so, in spite of his bad behavior.

What is your penalty for manipulating the facts, take away your computer for 2 days?

As a Lawyer, you should know how to apply law, but as a criminal defense lawyer, I'm also aware your type are pros at manipulating the facts.

Verdict - Yes, the author has an agenda, she does not like Mike's behavior, and as his brother, I don't either. However, author should know that u just don't make laws and rules on the spot because u might not like someone's behavior.

Mike is guilty of bad behavior, but not of breaking a WSOP rule, therefore he was wrongly penalized which may have cost him a chance at winning.

 
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TheFly
5 months ago

Scott, while you may have a point, it is irrelevant. All WSOP poker players are also subject to general RIO rules. More than one player has been disqualified while still in a tourney for conduct on property that wasn't specifically a WSOP poker rule.

Anyway, what do you say we just adopt a new "no vulgar douchebags" rule, then we wont have to deal with Mike's infantile antics again. Also, I hope you realize your brother is a tragic train-wreck waiting to happen, get him help, now.

 
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Scott41
5 months ago

He's fine, please don't assume you know him or what is really going on with him.

I would like to see him act better in public, but what can I do? I can't force him to stop cussin every other word.

Father's day. really loud in restaurant, it was F'n this or F'n that.

While Mike should, as an adult show restraint on his own, it's simple -- if you are playing with him, just say, "Mike, please tone down the cussing overy other word."

I misspoke earlier; Rule 45 was taken off the books, players are in fact allowed to cuss/ I'm assuming this author s related to the Barry Shulman of card player.

She is entitled to her opinion of Mike. I am also entitled to my opinion of the Shulmans when I state, "cool, how you feel about Mike, can you please stop giving us Jews a bad name? We have to suffer enough hearing "The Cheap Jew Jokes."

So I agree, Mike needs to behave better, and the Shulmans should consider their own poor behavior before pointing a finger at someone else, thanks!

 
 

Scott41
5 months ago

Also, I dont mean to come off sounding rude. I can't stop Mike from what he does. When I say he is fine, there is nothing physically wrong with him as he just got clean bill of health from Doctor.

Mentally? Mike's been "out to lunch" for years now. He is not crazy, and he's really nice hearted. We all got our issues.

Mike's is being an emotional midget.

Look, when I was 15, Mike would never shut up, exactly how he is now. Hell, I once knocked him out thru a sliding glass window in which I received 45 stitches. That didnt change Mike.

 
 

HoytFontenberry
5 months ago

@Scott41 Don't mean to come off sounding rude? Not only do you sound rude, but you also sound like an idiot. HE screwed up and got a penalty, end of story. His verbose attitude over the years is nothing more than a schtick. Well apparently the schtick has run its course with the poker community. You should have mooched enough money off of your brother to get a college education and then someone might take your defense a little more seriously. But, WE ALL GOT OUR ISSUES. Loser...

 
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TheFly
5 months ago

I don't see any reason to go after Scott, he's not the one acting like a child at the poker tables. Plus, I kind of like the thought of him punching Mikey through a sliding glass window! Damm, wish that was on video lol! Scott, I hope Mike cleans up his act a little bit and starts acting more like his age, I mean, he's not that far away from being considered one of the elser statesmen of poker, a little maturity, less vulgarity, would go a long way for him.

 
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jrspin
5 months ago

There is no excuse for rude and churlish behavior.

 
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