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Poker Pro Matusow Discusses 'Check-Raising the Devil'

‘The Mouth’ Debuted His New Autobiography


Mike MatusowFrom 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.



over 8 years ago

You couldnt pay me to buy the book. Only in poker does a dysfunctional person whose conduct is offensive and totally devoid of common courtesy and manners become a "superstar" gotta be kidding me! The only thing worse I can think of is being forced at gunpoint to read Phil Hellmuths book.


over 8 years ago

As I respect your opinion, you are way off base about Mike Matusow.
Mike has his issues personally but his poker knowledge and prowess supercede his faults.
You blog as if you have zero faults.
The book has information from a credible experienced source with vast knowledge and accomplishments, so you not buying the book makes no difference.
Good luck on the felts I feel you may need it.


over 8 years ago

Ricopoker......Im far from having zero faults, but I do possess common decency and respect for other people. Youre missing the point entirely! Regardless of his knowledge and accomplishments, I have zero respect for anyone who displays such disgraceful behavior on countless occasions in a public forum. I find it curious that somehow poker players feel the rules of society do not apply at a poker table and rude, disrespectul behavior is accepted as "part of the game"...gimme a break.

over 8 years ago

i think mike is a good person who is quite entertaining. he speaks his mind and is unpretencious.


over 8 years ago

Tompoker said "Only in poker does a dysfunctional person whose conduct is offensive and totally devoid of common courtesy and manners become a "superstar"...."

You have to be kidding right? There are many celebrities (actors, athletes, etc) that possess these very same qualities that you are saying Matusow possesses. It just shows how ignorant society can be at times to put these people in that place rather than figures that truly deserve it...

That being said I also I do not truly believe that these "superstar" pro poker players are exactly as you see them on tv, they all have characters and personalities for marketing and camera time. I would say till you actually met the man and found these to be true that these comments are pretty harsh, but to each their own opinion.


over 8 years ago

I think its so difficult to separate the celebrity persona from the real person persona. Who knows how much of each one Matusow portrays when the camera is rolling. Although he can be one of the most bombastic poker players at times, his actions (and antics) seem to always have a bit of the 'real-deal' tone to them, i.e. that he's showing you a peek at the real Mike, warts and all. I don't think I would have what it takes to 'show all' to a nameless (and faceless) public the way he does.

Society is filled with countless examples of people who were exceptional at something--novelists, musicians, artists, athletes, etc.-- and were considered heroes to many-- but in their personal lives were absolute shits to everyone around them. Since the public seldom saw that side, people respected and admired them for their talents.

Matusow is a gifted and exceptional poker player. He also is an entertaining, engaging, and often quite funny celebrity. Simply because he might not be a 'Mr. Rogers' does not devalue him as a person, or his personality. Apples and oranges maybe, but both can be enjoyed.

The more I think of it, if Mike did a program called "Mr. Matusow's Neighborhood' it might be extremely enjoyable and funny. At some point I'll start to read his story, and if it is anything close to as entertaining as he is on screen, finish and savor it.

Ben (aka toadrunner)


over 8 years ago raise some valid points about celebrities, athelets, ect....and the "on camera" persona. This is my last word on the subject...on camera, off camera, at the market, at the zoo, wherever, whenever, disrespectful, rude behavior which is clearly anti social should be condemned wherever it exists...there are NO excuses!!


over 8 years ago

well said TOM POKER very intelligent last word ..many kudos