Check-Raising the Devil: Speaking with the Author

Created By: Matthew Showell
15 May 2009
Posted in: The Poker Reporter Blog, Industry Insider
Mike Matsow


I've never been much for reviews, and since I haven't read this book it wouldn't make a whole lot of sense to start now.

However, I had the chance to speak with Dr. Tim Lavalli yesterday. Lavalli, along with co-author Amy Calistri, spent considerable time with Mike Matusow in the creation of this autobiography. I was interested in how this project got started and what I should expect from the book.

Back in 2005 Matusow was very much in the limelight, having made his second WSOP Main Event final table and won the tournament of champions. The idea for an autobiography was tossed around, although Lavalli and Calistri wouldn't enter the picture as authors until much later.

It wasn't until after the 2007 World Series of Poker that everyone had a deal they were happy with. Then started the arduous process of getting Matusow's story down on paper.

Two chapters were loaded full of drugs, parties and the sensationalism guaranteed to sell at publishers' market. Cardoza picked it up and the two authors were good to go.

A big part of Matusow's life has been his ongoing struggle with bipolar disorder and ADHD. The frenetic and impulse-driven image he's built shows it clearly. It's still a big part of his life and it played into the way this book came together.

"If he wasn't like this there would be no reason to write the book," summed up Lavalli.

Some days were more productive than others in the creation phase as the storyline lurched forward and they stitched together the details of a chaotic period in Matusow's life.

Mike Matusow
Hey, I done a lot of things.

When listening to the audio tape of a previous session Matusow asked Lavalli, "Why did we leave out the part where that guy pulled the gun on me?" The reason was that detail of the story wasn't revealed by Matusow in the first telling.

One thing that stood out to Lavalli was Matusow's honesty in the retelling of his life, particularly those things you might expect him to keep quiet. "The stories you hear about, when Mike's telling them he usually comes out looking even worse," said Lavalli.

Woven into this narrative is the story of a gifted poker player. Between the millions of dollars won, a lifestyle of excess and Matusow's personal demons they didn't have any problem filling the pages.

As seasoned poker journalists Lavalli and Calistri will render this picture in a style believable to those who have seen it firsthand. By the same token it will give the uninitiated an authentic look at a side of professional poker you don't see on television.

Dr. Lavalli will be taking part in our Run-Good Challenge blogger freeroll tomorrow so if you have a question for the author stop by the table on PokerStars at 11 a.m. Pick up your copy of the book on Amazon.

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