Mike “The Mouth” Matusow’s recent exaggeration of his results at the just-completed 2021 World Series of Poker has drawn attention within the poker world. Late last week, Matusow offered a synopsis of his 2021 WSOP performance in a single tweet. However, that single tweet contained multiple errors and misrepresentations as exposed by posters in a thread at 2+2. That thread was already tracking Matusow’s charging of 1.5 markup — a very high rate — for would-be backers of some of his pricier WSOP events.
In his post-series update on Twitter, Matusow claimed “23 tourneys, 11 cashes, 3 final tables, $26K profit!”
However, even a preliminary examination showed that three of the four stats as claimed were wrong, and all three were skewed in Matusow’s favor. Matusow played at least 24 events during the late-fall WSOP, including at least 23 live events and at least one WSOP online bracelet event, which he live-streamed.
Matusow’s claim of 11 cashes is also wrong, though he did make three final tables. Matusow actually cashed eight times during the series. The only way he could’ve got that total to 11 was by possibly including three small cashes he recorded during the WSOP’s summer online bracelet series. Those events, however, were an entirely separate series from the just-completed WSOP. The summer series offered 11 of its own online bracelets, including the one or more that Matusow played but didn’t list in his tally. Nor did Matusow include in his tally of 23 events played those earlier summer events that still may have made his list of claimed cashes.
$26K profit claim appeared inflated as well
As for Matusow’s actual profits during the 2021 WSOP, $26,000 also appears exaggerated. 2+2 forum posters argued in an empty manner until Rob “AtariRob” Smith served up a spreadsheet offering the best info yet on Matusow’s performance in the series. Smith, a longtime player and something of a stats wonk, long ago figured out a way to collect results for prominent players who are likely to be included in PokerNews’ running chip counts at major events and series.
Smith’s extract, presented in spreadsheet form, showed that Matusow cashed for $174,736 in the series, but he spent at least $162,000 in buy-ins, for a profit of $12,736 — less than half what he claimed. Smith’s data also presumes Matusow didn’t rebuy in any of the listed events; if Matusow did any rebuys, it would have further reduced his overall profits.
Matusow posted overall loss in YouStake-listed events
Matusow also came up a mild loser in the collection of $10K and higher events which he made available to backers via YouStake prior to the start of the series:
Matusow had not addressed that previous tweet directly since his series results were completed. As can be seen from Smith’s data, he played 12 such events for a total of $135,000 in buy-ins (assuming no re-buys). However, he cashed for $121,084 in those events for a loss of just over 10%, $13,912.
In chatting with this writer, Smith also provided an extended database of Matusow’s WSOP results from 2012-2019. “He legit is in the profit,’ said Smith about Matusow’s WSOP performance over those eight previous WSOP series. Smith’s data shows Matusow posted about an average of 13% profit on about $1.05 million of winnings. Smith’s data, though, represents a “most favorable” interpretation of Matusow’s last decade of results. That’s because it could’ve missed rebuys and even a few events played, since it was dependent upon PokerNews reporting Matusow as a participant in any given event.
Hubbub comes on heels of Matusow markup controversy
The quirky profit claims by Matusow follow the controversy he generated by charging backers a 50% markup on stakes purchased through his YouStake listings. It’s highly probable that Matusow made much more from the markup he charged than his actual net profits from the WSOP events he played.
As many people have noted, selling pieces of one’s action is entirely a free-market operation. No one’s been forced to back the four-time bracelet winner, who is one of the game’s most polarizing figures. Players such as Matusow, with oversized personalities and large fan bases, receive significant financial benefits when offering themselves to be staked. Misstating one’s profits, whether intentional or not, would then seem to be counterproductive when one’s large fan base already exists.
There’s also a truth-in-advertising element at play. Consistently exaggerating one’s results smacks of the types of claims made by a large percentage of sports touts — an often unsavory element of the sports-betting world. To create a comparative measure of skill, the game of poker counts only cashes won — not all entries paid. That makes it easier to manipulate the game for backing and staking purposes. If Matusow is at a disadvantage in any way, it’s that he’s so well known that he can’t exaggerate too much without being called on it. He could’ve expected that someone in the poker world, such as Smith, would have found a way to do some rough checking of his claims, and Matusow’s tweeted numbers do appear skewed from the reality of his 2021 WSOP performance.
Featured image source: Haley Hintze