Matusow is opinionated as they come about the entire poker industry whether it’s online poker, brick and mortar casinos or individual poker players.
Since last summer, the old-school pro has shied away from the poker world, admitting he was disgusted by the entire situation after online poker’s Black Friday.
He’s also off to a good start at the 2012 WSOP with two eighth place finishes to earn nearly $75,000.
Matusow was kind enough to chat with us on a break in the $10k H.O.R.S.E. tonight and give us his thoughts on online poker, live poker and everything in between.
PokerListings.com: We haven’t seen a ton of you on the poker circuit over the last year, Mike, what have you been up to?
Just relaxing. Betting a little sports. I went through some mental problems and didn’t really leave my house for like six months but I’m doing well now.
PL.com: Have you played much poker?
No. I’ve hardly played poker. I was really disgusted with poker. I still am but I’m here working hard and trying to get myself back where I need to be.
PL.com: So you’re obviously not one of these guys who left the country to play online poker?
To me, I think they’re a bunch of criminals [online poker sites]. I just keep myself low. I don’t want to be around it. I’ve seen the downside of it. I’ve had millions stolen from me from Ultimate Bet. I’ve had my name smashed through the mud. God knows how much I had stolen from me by Full Tilt. I don’t need it. It’s disappointing to me.
Everybody can’t wait for it to be legalized so then all the casinos can steal all their money. They ain’t going to change.
PL.com: What kind of reaction have you been getting from fellow poker players over the last year?
I mean I’ve had a lot. It’s frustrating. I was talking to Phil Ivey yesterday – it was the first time we had talked since everything went down – and he was a little upset with me because I had voiced my opinion on what I had heard.
He told me, ‘You heard what certain other people were saying, and you didn’t hear my side of it.’
We talked a little bit and we’re on good terms now. We both know what it’s like to have people give you that strange look, like you stole their money. It’s just the most awful feeling in the world. So I’ve just stayed low.
I’m not a big fan of traveling the circuit. Unless they bring the buy ins down to around $3,000 now, everybody is going to go broke. I think all the WPTs and all the WSOPC events should be like $3,000 and they should cut the rake in half.
People are hurting. If you’re going to play a $10,000 tournament once a month, it’s impossible to survive. That’s why you don’t see me.
It’s costs like $700k a year to play all the big tournaments. That’s about one second place finish. Do you have any idea how hard it is to win second place every year? You’re playing the best players in the world.
PL.com: On that note, do you think the poker community, as it currently stands, can sustain itself without huge sponsorships from the Full Tilts and PokerStars?
Absolutely not. That’s why I think the buy ins and the rake have to be drastically lowered.
If they don’t – and the WSOP is a monster right now – it’s gonna shrivel. From what I’ve heard they are already down about 15% this year. That’s just the start.
I’m all for the good of poker. The buy ins have got to come way down. People have got to start giving back when times are tough.
I think the WSOP is going to have to start giving a lot back, even though they don’t want to. To help the brand survive.
Finally all these young kids are starting to realize ‘Hey we ran really good, but this 3-bet, 4-bet and 5-bet doesn’t work against great players.’
It’s not so easy to make a living. They want out.
PL.com: You were one of the few members of Team Full Tilt that was very vocal after Black Friday. Do you regret anything you said during that time?
No. I still believe Howard is not a criminal. Chris is not a criminal. I know they would never steal from anybody.
They made mistakes. When they had no money they needed to sell right away. They had offers but they wanted to be greedy about it and keep control. They lost the offers. They put themselves in this position.
It’s a bad situation. They had no money because of certain situations. It wasn’t because they stole it. It will all come out. It’s all very unfortunate. Hopefully this PokerStars thing will work out.