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Poker Tournament Trail -- Matt Glantz

Glantz Talks About Running Deep in Major Poker Tournaments

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Matt Glantz after winning the EPT London High Roller EventMatt Glantz (pictured left) has cashed nine times playing tournament poker in 2009. This fact is not remarkable for a player of Glantz’s talent, but if you look at the quality of events he has cashed in, the feat is commendable. Glantz has cashed in the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, the World Poker Tour Championship, and the $40,000 no-limit hold’em event at the World Series of Poker, three of the top poker events this year. Glantz also cashed in two $10,000 world championship events at the WSOP this summer, making the final table of the $10,000 limit world championship, where he finished in sixth place.

The highlight of his year came in October, when he won the European Poker Tour London high-roller event to take home the top prize worth $866,537. In each of the events mentioned above, Glantz was competing against the top players in the world, and his results speak for themselves. The success comes as no surprise when you consider that Glantz has been a mainstay at the big game in Bobby’s Room for years.

Card Player caught up with Glantz at Bellagio, and he talked about what drives him to compete against the top competition in poker.

Ryan Lucchesi: How have you been able to post such consistent results in the toughest tournaments this year?

Matt Glantz: For me, it is much easier to focus in the higher buy-in events. It’s just much more meaningful, and I’m not looking off to see what’s going on in the cash games. If I’m in a small buy-in event, I might be more interested in what is going on in the cash games. The $25,000, $40,000, and $50,000 events are much more meaningful, so you totally focus on that tournament.

RL: Is that a principle of game selection at the highest level?

MG: Yeah, I have a poor record in small buy-in events, so I don’t play in them anymore. In the big buy-in events, I have a better cash rate.

RL: How much does your familiarity with other top players factor into your success?

MG: I tend to do better against tougher competition. I don’t fare as well against really weak competition in some of the WPT events and smaller World Series events; I don’t know why. I guess I’m just more focused on what the top players are thinking when they’re playing a hand against me. The bigger [buy-in] tournaments are much more like a cash game. You start with big stacks of 200-400 big blinds, deep at the beginning, more like a cash game. The deeper stacks make for much less variance in getting knocked out of the tournament. There is not too much tournament strategy early. A lot of these guys that are strictly tournament professionals are out of their element.

RL: You won the EPT London high-roller event against the top players in the world. Tell me about that tournament experience?

MG: We started with 50,000 in chips, and during the first level on day 1 I was down to 18,000 right away. I played poorly the first level, but I focused and got into a couple of good situations. By the fourth level, I was up to 100,000 and well on my way to 125,000. It was a big rush from the second to the fourth level. I finished day 1 fifth or sixth in chips, and during the first level on day 2 I lost half of my chips, so I had to focus up. By the end of day 2, I was back up to second in chips. It was the kind of tournament where there were a lot of great players, especially at the final table.

RL: Do you think that to be the best you have to play against the best players?

MG: The only way I get better is by playing against better competition. I don’t learn from books, and I don’t learn by studying, that was never me. I have to be in the game and see what people are doing and then kind of mimic what great players are doing in different spots. All of the good players have flaws, but some of them do certain things very well. If you can figure out what they’re doing and add it to your game, then you have so much more of an arsenal.

The way for young players to do it is that they need to find players who will take a piece of them if they want to play in higher games. That’s what I did; whenever I was uncomfortable with the limits, I had friends that would take pieces of me until I gained enough confidence in my game to make the jump on my own bankroll. I was comfortable with playing in the game, I just wasn’t comfortable with the money aspect until I started making good money playing poker.

RL: Do you get involved with game theory when you sit down in Bobby’s Room for the big game?

MG: When you’re playing in specific hands, not so much, but it’s more in the metagame when you’re trying to figure out if people are steaming or whatnot. My biggest knack is what people think of me, not necessarily me getting a read on them. I’m more concerned about what their read on me is so I can capitalize on that. That’s what I really try to focus on, and that’s what I have been good at.

RL: You play in all of the top events during the year, so what do you think are the three toughest tournament fields in poker each year?

MG: The toughest fields used to be the $5,000 Bellagio events that happened right before the WPT events. It used to be all professionals in those fields, but it is not the same anymore. The $40,000 at World Series was probably the toughest of the year. The $25,000 WPT Championship was second.

I thought the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. was one of the easiest of all of the big events. It is the softest field because you get a lot of guys in there who think they know how to play all of the games, but they never play them. All of these famous no-limit hold’em TV players get put in, but they don’t play all of the games all year round, they only play them every once in a while.

The World Series of Poker Europe main event was the third toughest. The $10K EPT London main event was really soft; the EPT high-roller was pretty tough.