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Mike Matusow wins fourth WSOP bracelet, $266,503

8 Jun 2013

Few poker players in history have endured more highs and lows, ups and downs, wins and losses than Mike Matusow.

In the early morning hours on Saturday, Matusow enjoyed one of his greatest highs when the bombastic poker pro known as “The Mouth” for his incessant table chatter won his fourth World Series of Poker gold bracelet in the $5,000 Seven-Card Stud High-Low event.

Matusow collected $266,503. However, the prize money figure didn't come up once in the nearly half-hour victory party Matusow hosted at table side, as several family and friends cheered and celebrated.

All of Matusow's attention was focused on a beaming cylinder of gold sprawled out on the green felt. Sure, Matusow has been in this spot before. Three previous times, in fact. But this victory and this gold bracelet in particular seemed to carry even more meaning than past glories.

Perhaps that's because Matusow has not only stood the test of time in a game that has changed beyond recognition from more than a decade ago when the 45-year-old poker pro from Las Vegas burst upon the poker scene in a flash, and then proceeded to flare out at times like a burned-out comet. Perhaps it's those well-documented – even painful – trials and tribulations, both personal and professional, which added so much gravity to the weight of what this victory meant.

In an era when players half his age have evolved to the point where many now dominate the contemporary poker scene, Matusow remains a flashback to earlier times when personality and showmanship weren't just cheap publicity stunts, but skillfully choreographed weapons of the trade. The very best players in the game, including Matusow, have since come to reflect an era that's all but faded away. Moreover, his victory at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas in an event comprised of many of the world's best players made this moment all the more satisfying to a player that can be just as tender and sentimental as abrasive and annoying.

An interesting caveat of the post-tournament interview session included one statement by Matusow which is probably worthy of serious discussion. “I really think I belong in the Poker Hall of Fame,” Matusow said. “If you look at my record, I'm right up there.”

Like him or loath him, Matusow is quite right. Consider his four WSOP gold bracelets, two Main Event final table appearances, an NBC Heads-Up Championship, two World Poker Tour titles, millions in tournament winnings, in addition to a solid track record in live action (cash) games for years, and Matusow's name does belong in the discussion.

Nonetheless, Matusow was also brutally honest about his state of affairs the many mistakes he's made, particularly in blowing most of his winnings on the most outlandish wagers and poor lifestyle choices.

“Yeah, I've blown most of it,” Matusow said. “But its's never been about money for me. When my head's on straight, I really believe I'm the best in the world. Nobody can beat me when I'm playing my A-game.”

Matusow predicts that his opponents will see more than “A game” the rest of the series.

“My next goal is to win another,” he said.

Matusow defeated Matthew Ashton heads up to claim the title. Ashton claimed $164,700 for second, while Mike Leah won $108,412 in third.

Other final table finishers included: David "Bakes" Baker (fourth), Yuval Bronshtein (fifth), Tony Cousineau (sixth), Gavin Smith (seventh) and Vladimir Shchmelev (eighth).

Cousineau's cash brings his career total to 55 – the most in-the-money finishes for any player in history without a gold bracelet win.

The tournament drew 210 players. The top 24 finishers were paid. Aside from Matusow, gold bracelet winners who made the money included Baker, Smith, Jose Luis-Velador (11th), Eli Elezra (15th), Brian Hastings (16th), Eugene Katchalov (22nd), and Tom Schneider (23rd).

Tournament summary modified from a report by WSOP Media Director Nolan Dalla, reprinted by permission.
 
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