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Tournament Trail Q and A -- Matt Woodward

Woodward Talks About His Runner-Up Finish at the EPT Grand Final


Matt Woodward finished in second place at the 2009 PokerStars European Poker Tour Grand Final in Monte Carlo, and he took €1.3 million in prize money. This was the largest single cash in Woodward’s young career, but definitely not his first. Woodward has been cashing in poker tournaments since 2005, and he has shown particular strength in limit hold’em events. His first cash came at the Party Poker Million IV, the largest limit hold’em championship in the world. He has also cashed in the top 25 the last two years in the World Series of Poker $10,000 limit hold’em world championship.

Recently Woodward has been making his mark in no-limit hold’em events, in addition to the Grand Final runner-up finish, Woodward cashed in 19th place at the 2009 L.A. Poker Classic no-limit hold’em championship event. Woodward is now closing in on $2 million in lifetime winnings.

Card Player caught up with Woodward in Monte Carlo and he talked about his experience at the final table.

Ryan Lucchesi: When you came into the final table Dag Martin Mikkelsen and Peter Traply had position on you with big stacks. Is that why you started things off tight?

Matt Woodward: I had two very good players who had big chip stacks to my left, so that was why I started out tight. I like to start a day by not getting out of control. I feel that as any day goes on, my edge increases over my opponents as I get better reads. I was just patiently trying to get a read on how things were going and let some of the shorter stacks bust out.

RL: You had to be happy to see Dag and Peter duel in the first large hand, which led to Traply getting knocked out in eighth place. Did that allow you to loosen up a bit?

MW: Any time that anyone got knocked out I was happy, especially the better players. Peter seemed to know what he was doing, so that was good. Dag already had the chip lead, so him having twice as many chips wasn’t going to change anything. I didn’t think he was going to try and abuse me too bad; I think he saw that I had tightened up from what I had been doing earlier in the tournament.

RL: You did open up after a while, and I noticed that you weren’t afraid to jump into pots and mix things up out of position. Did that give you an advantage over your opponents?

MW: I think a lot of people are really afraid to play out of position, and when everyone is making such small raises before the flop, I feel like you have to defend your blinds. You can’t just be folding all of your mediocre hands to someone who’s just making it 2.5 big blinds to play preflop when there are antes and everything else.

RL: You mentioned that you pick up a lot off of your opponents as a tournament day progresses. Is it because you know there is so much information available from physical characteristics that you’re so stoic at the table? You have the same physical expression, the same betting routine, and you usually bet and raise the same amount each time you act. Does that play into the edge you mentioned earlier?

MW: I try not to give too much away. A lot of it is not just picking up on physical stuff but betting patterns. I try to work my hardest on not giving much away while getting a physical read on my opponents. You have to stay focused throughout the day and pick up more on them than they are picking up on you.

RL: You looked a bit frustrated during the heads-up match. It looked like you wanted to play back at Pieter de Korver but you weren’t able to. Were you card dead, or just getting a good read on the strength of his hands?

MW: I could be wrong, but I think I’m mostly surprised by how many good starting hands he was getting. I don’t think he was screwing around with me too much; he would just grab a handful of chips and just stick them in. I think he just hit a lot of hands, but we’ll see when they show the holecards on TV.

RL: This is not your first successful result on the tournament trail, but definitely a huge result to post right before the summer. Does this give you some added confidence heading into the WSOP in Vegas?

MW: Yeah, it does. I was pretty confident in my game before this tournament but it definitely helps. I feel like the end of the tournament is where I had the least experience and where I still need to improve the most. The deep stack stuff I feel really confident and comfortable with. This tournament gives me a lot of experience, a lot of confidence, and hopefully I’ll make some deep runs at the World Series this year.