Poker Pro Matusow Discusses 'Check-Raising the Devil'
‘The Mouth’ Debuted His New Autobiography
From a trailer park to the top of the world, Mike Matusow had come crashing down to earth. But like only he could, he pulled himself back up and returned to the spotlight. “Check-Raising the Devil,” Matusow’s new autobiography, doesn’t spare any details of the poker pro’s tumultuous journey.
Written in collaboration with Amy Calistri and Tim Lavilli, Matusow tells of how he rose from obscurity to become one of the biggest names in poker.
Recognized now as one of the best players on the planet, life hasn’t always looked so promising for the three-time bracelet winner. Working in his family’s furniture store, Matusow poured every spare quarter he had into video poker machines, watching any money he had drain away 25 cents at a time. Things got so bad that he began attending Gamblers Anonymous meetings by the time he was 21 years old.
“Thinking back on it now, I probably was in worse shape than even I thought,” Matusow wrote. “I mean, it takes a lot to get a 21-year-old kid to show up at G.A. meeting on his own.”
With a well-established reputation for speaking his mind, Matusow doesn’t shy away from the painful details of his life — from his detrimental obsession with sports gambling to his drug addiction to even his six-month stint in jail.
Throughout the book, Matusow shares his thoughts and mindset with the reader. Told from a present-day perspective, Matusow often comments and criticizes his judgment and his actions, making it a point to let people know the dangers and pitfalls that come with drug use.
“I found out the hard way that drugs can cause brain damage,” Matusow wrote. “They can change the wiring in your brain. After you stop, some of that wiring changes back over time, but some of it never returns.”
As a boisterous competitor, ESPN cameras were quick to feature the brash pro who never seemed inclined to hide the raw emotions he felt at the poker table. Matusow discusses some of the famous moments of his that people might remember from TV — including his confrontations with Greg Raymer, Shawn Sheikhan, and Phil Hellmuth — while taking the reader through his journey to three bracelet events and an incredible four deep runs into the main event.
Overall, the book has a somber, reflective, and even grateful tone. Invoking the late Stu Ungar, Matusow writes about how he was able to avoid Ungar’s fate to survive, and even continue to flourish, in the poker spotlight.
Matusow will answer any questions about his autobiography on his weekly Card Player TV show, The Mouthpiece, which is filmed nearly every Thursday. Matusow is in Calgary today for the Canadian Open Poker Championship, but call 1-877-675-1306 next Thursday between 3-3:30 p.m. PDT with your questions.
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