Poker Hall of Fame profile: Mike ‘The Mouth’ Matusow

Jon Sofen
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Posted on: December 7, 2020 2:00 pm EST

The 2020 Poker Hall of Fame will announce its one and only inductee December 30 in Las Vegas. Will that lucky individual be polarizing poker pro Mike “The Mouth” Matusow? If not this year, than maybe never.

This year’s selection is up for grabs and could be one of about a dozen players and industry personnel. That includes Matusow, who has been eligible since 2008. There are a couple of reasons he hasn’t made it into the Poker Hall of Fame despite turning 40 a dozen years ago.

First off, his character has come into question. Many poker fans and media members don’t like his brash demeanor on the felt and his conspiracy theorist mentality. And although he was one of the best players 15-20 years ago, he didn’t continue winning into the current decade. For many years now, Matusow hasn’t been a respected player, and that’s hurt his Hall of Fame chances. The criteria for induction is a bit subjective.

  • A player must have played poker against acknowledged top competition
  • Be a minimum of 40-years-old at time of nomination
  • Played for high stakes
  • Played consistently well, gaining the respect of peers
  • Stood the test of time
  • Or, for non-players, contributed to the overall growth and success of the game of poker, with indelible positive and lasting results.

Does Mike Matusow meet those qualifications?

Mike Matusow clearly hit the mark on the first three qualifications. He has faced many of the best players of his generations, reached age 40 in April 2008, and has played in high stakes games. Beyond that is where his Poker Hall of Fame candidacy is in question.

While Matusow was one of the best players in the game in the early part of this century, he simply hasn’t stood the test of time. No one considers “The Mouth” a top player anymore. In fact, it’s likely he’s been a losing poker player for at least the past five years, if not the past decade.

His last WSOP bracelet came in 2013 and he only has one six-figure live tournament score since then. (In 2019 he booked a 4th place finish for $116,255 in the WSOP $10,000 Seven Card Stu Hi-Lo event.) On top of that, his Twitter account is full of unproven conspiracy theories and verbal attacks on those who share opposing political views. Character counts when it comes to the Poker Hall of Fame even though it isn’t one of the listed qualifications. If it didn’t matter, Chris Ferguson would already be in.

With that said, even though Matusow hasn’t been a respected player for years, his previous results speak for themselves. He won four WSOP bracelets, has nearly $10 million in live tournament winnings, reached the WSOP Main Event final table twice (2001, 2005), and has appeared at five World Poker Tour final tables.

Matusow has demons, there’s no doubt about it. He rubs many people the wrong way and earned his nickname, “The Mouth.” For the past decade he’s been unsuccessful as a poker pro and hasn’t won anything of significance in many years. But the fact of the matter is, for about a decade, he was among the best poker players in the world. And poker fans still enjoy watching him on TV. So, he at least has to be considered for the Poker Hall of Fame.

Featured image source: Flickr