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Mike Matusow deserves an Apology Big Time!

by Daniel Negreanu |  Published: Jun 13, '14


I'm going to keep this short, but I feel like I need to speak up, and speak out against a decision made by a floorman at the WSOP named Dave Lamb. To make a long story short, Mikey was all in and deep in a tournament. He needed help and was being himself, a loud, sometimes childish and obnoxious guy that most people who watch TV love to see, while others may not like his antics. It's typical Mike "The Mouth" acting like he has at the WSOP for 10+ years.

He ends up winning the pot, doesn't berate anyone in the tournament, then celebrates loudly away from the table. Then, out of the blue Dave Lamb crosses the line of his duties in a big way by issuing Mike a one round penalty in the late stages of the game. This wouldn't even happen in sports, as refs are typically very careful to call tacky fouls or penalties late in the game, and Mike's "outburst" hurt no one.

For the sake of argument, let's just say that Mike was guilty of excessive celebration according to the TDA rules. How in the world can you justify such a harsh penalty without issuing a simple warning prior to that decision? A simple, "Hey Mike, you have been warned. If you do that again you will get a one round penalty for excessive celebration."

This is consistent with a major problem I have with quite a few of the TDA rules that go straight to a penalty without giving the players the benefit of the doubt, and the courtesy of a warning.

That needs to change. I don't know how to make it change, but I needed to say something. We need to stop taking ourselves so seriously. Dave Lamb thought Mike celebrated excessively. Several of the players in the tournament disagreed and showed their support for Mike via twitter. Unfortunately, that can't be reversed at this point, but I'm hoping that in the future we can all agree that a TD shouldn't have such a heavy influence on the outcome of a tournament, ESPECIALLY without first issuing a warning. I can't think of a good argument for punishing players so severely without a just, stern, and fair warning.

Too many of these automatic penalties hurt the amateur players in a big way. A couple examples:

1. Checking the nuts in position. It's typically novice players who overlook their hand, or are just lost in the moment that do this. For example, a board reads KQJT and it's checked to them and they check with the Ace without thinking. Giving him a penalty for this is absurd. ONE warning is sufficient, and if he does it again, a penalty is in order.

2. Turning your hand over before the action is done. This is ALWAYS an error by the player turning over his hand usually in a raising war where he believes that the two players are all in. Example: Player A bets 25k and Player B says raise and puts out 75k. Player A, thinking he is all in, quickly says call and turns his hand face up before the river is dealt. Not only does he suffer the penalty of having to play his cards face up for the rest of the hand due to his error, he is ALSO issued a penalty according to TDA rules? Atrocious. This happened to Alberto Tomba in San Remo, and YEARS later he is still afraid to enter an EPT event because he isn't familiar with all the rules. A novice player scared away foolishly.

Poker is supposed to be fun guys, it's not war. There is no need for a Nazi like enforcement of rules that don't accomplish what they are designed to accomplish. If you are a tournament director, you would be wise to take a chill pill, keep it friendly, issue warnings followed by penalties when necessary, and do as little as possible to effect the outcome of tournaments that you haven't risked a penny to play.

Daniel Negreanu is the 2004 CardPlayer Magazine and World Poker Tour Player of the Year. He presents his poker strategies in one-on-one virtual training at and writes a weekly syndicated newspaper column.
Read all of Daniel Negreanu's poker blog and poker articles at Full Contact Poker.

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
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