The Business of Poker - Interview with Matt Savage, Part Two
Most poker fans came to know Matt Savage as the well dressed man that was hovering around the tables in the 2003 WSOP, when Chris Moneymaker shocked the poker world. Indeed, nearly three years, and an eternity in the development of poker later, Matt Savage is still hovering over tables at poker tournaments, be it at his beloved Bay 101 Shooting Star event, or many of the TV events Matt runs.
Matt has been at the center of the poker world throughout the explosion, and has a fairly unique perspective. Recently, I sat down with Matt to talk about his thoughts on the development of poker, and where he is at in his life today. Last week, we ran part one of the interview, which I would recommend you read first, if you can.
In part two of the interview, Matt talks about his personal life, and what the future of the Tournament Directors association, as well as what the future of Matt Savage might be. Enjoy.
John: Let's talk about what you're doing now. We talked last night about the fact that you've been doing a lot of made for TV stuff, versus 'pure' tournament directing. How do you find a balance in your life, and do you prefer one or the other? Let's say something like being the TD at Bay 101 versus the "US versus the World" thing for Fox, versus something like 'Lucky You' (an upcoming feature film which Savage served as a consultant on).
Matt: I love doing the made for TV events. I love coming in and working with people that I've never worked with before for the challenge of it, and helping them, and leading them through what a televised poker event is all about. I love working with Fox Sports Net, because they're all the guys that I know, and I've got such a good relationship with them. With Bay 101, the owner takes good care of me, and it's my home. So, I love going back there. Lucky You was an incredible experience for me, because just to see what it's like to actually work on a major motion picture was really great. I'm excited about it's release. I think it's gonna be the greatest poker movie ever. I really do. You know, it's got a real shot to be. I hope that they put it together like I think they can, and Curtis Hanson, the director is a very famous director. So he's done very good work. But....I enjoy all of it. I enjoy the new challenges. I'm working on a show called 'King of Vegas', which is not all poker. It's all casino games, which is also exciting for me. I like all of it. But I still like running the major events.
Matt: Monte Carlo was just a great time. I mean it was a great time for me to have all the best players, from the Untied States and Europe come together and really see, in a true poker tournament where you get a lot of chips and a lot of play, how it plays out. It was interesting to watch Phil Ivey play and work his way through that field and be short shift and come back. That's my true love...running the big events.
John: So can you find a way to incorporate the big events more into your life? Or, at this point is the TV and the other stuff, just so prevalent that you can't look away from it..
Matt: yeah...it's so prevalent and it's kind of a specialty type niche. It's one of those things where, when they're running poker televised events, and they don't have anybody to work with....I don't want this to sound bad, but my name comes up. They contact me, and I want to help everybody, because I want to grow poker. You know I'm working now with some Indian tribes in Seneca. I'm gonna do their tournament coming up. I'm doing the Canadian Poker Tour event in Atlantis, the Party Poker Million, Bay 101 Shooting Star, and the Mansion, Poker.net and Monte Carlo Millions, and the London Open....lots going on. I love traveling. I've got a baby coming up on May 6. So....hopefully everything's ok with that God willing, you know. That the baby comes fine, and I don't know what's going to happen at that point.
John: Let's talk about the baby. How is that going to affect your life?
Matt: Everybody tells me - nothing's ever the same, and I agree with that. I believe that that'll happen. But, it's hard. It's gonna be hard because poker is so hot now, and you gotta make it while you can.. I don't want to miss out on anything that I could possibly do, but of course the most important thing to me is my wife, Maryann and my daughter Risa, and, now the baby. I think it's gonna be hugely important. Not to say that I've neglected them, but I've sure spent a lot of time away from home, and I try and bring Maryann any time I can, and I love to have her with me at any time. But, it's, it's tough. And it's going to become tougher, so.
John: Is it the kind of situation where you might actually consider taking the baby with you places.
Matt: Yeah, we will. We'll take the baby with us because it's gonna be part of what we do. We travel, we work, you know? I like working...I love working. So, I think that that's something that I'll do. When I got in this thing three years ago, I thought that there was something better for myself. I worked with Linda Johnson and David Lamb and Jan Fisher to form the Tournament Directors Association, when somebody said that could never happen, that rules would never be standardized, and got that started, and got the invitation to work for World Series. It's been nothing but positive since then for me. And....I want to see that continue.
John: Let's talk about the Tournament Directors Association. What's the future of the TDA?
Matt: Well I'll tell you it's used everywhere right now, which is a great thing. Because we put a lot of time into it. It was obviously not anything for money because it's again helping the game. We haven't been able to put much time into it lately. We need to have another meeting soon to reform the rules and just go over what we've done. I'd love to see it become part of the Poker Association that we're working on. I'd love to see it join up with the IPF. Marcel's been talking about that for a long time. I'd love to see it used everywhere, it pretty much is, for the most part used in every major tournament. It's just a great thing that I'm very proud of. It makes things easier for everybody to know what rules to expect when you go into a major tournament. Going back to working the major tournaments, that opportunity comes up for me, but it's, it's still one of those things where I'm not able to be everywhere at once. And when I get contacted by these companies to put these events together, they take months to do. It's not like it's something I can just punch out. But again, I want to strive to be the best that I can at what I do, and hopefully that continues and I'm able to achieve that goal, and it's a good thing.
John: Have you ever considered...I don't know if you'd call it 'licensing', but have you ever considered sort of accrediting certain people to be tournament directors?
Matt: Yeah, I've given a lot of thought to that. I have had at least fifty emails from people that want to become tournament directors. I worked very closely with Dave Lamb, and I consider him like a partner. I would, but I think that again, you're giving up your time to make somebody else better.
John: It's interesting. The way I would look at it, and here's just my analogy from rock and roll. There's tour managers, right, which is not unlike a tournament director in the sense that they're very event specific, very schedule specific. A manager does a different schtick than a tour manager does. So there's guys that have come along in the tour management world, who come out and take these guys out with them over the years, and have trained them and trained them, and put them out on other tours, and sort of act like brokers. And there's an expectation from the artists' perspective that this person has the seal of approval, and as such can be sort of hired sight unseen, and, as such gets a little bit of a higher pay scale, some of which gets kicked back to the 'broker'. Its just sort of the way it works there. That could be an opportunity for you.
Matt: I definitely see that. These dealer schools that are popping up, I think they're great things. Harnessing all of that, and putting the energy forth that you want to, to do, is difficult, but again, when you're doing these major TV events, you don't need somebody with you. So yeah, I would love to do that. I would love to open a school and actually do some of that. And I've thought about it greatly for Savage Tournaments, and hopefully I can do that. I'm not really sure what I wanna do with that whole Savage Tournaments thing because right now I've been asked many times to become an affiliate. I'm not interested right now because again I'm working for Prima, and Party, and all those companies, and I've been able to keep that relationship because I'm performing a job. I'm not actually working for the website. I'm working for the tournament and the event that they're running.
John: And with what you do, you need a certain amount of distance in a sense to keep your credibility.
Matt: Yes. Sure.
John: I don't know what you can do through Savage Tournaments, but at some point you gotta ask is the money really worth it? Clearly it's our business model, and it's what we do, but we know that and there's no conflict. Anyway, thanks a lot for your time today, and I really enjoyed the chat.
Matt: Happy to do it. See you soon.