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The Muck: Did Mike Matusow Really Have a Blow Up in the WSOP Main Event?

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Mike Matusow bluffed off his stack on Day 4 of the 2022 World Series of Poker Main Event, leading some to say it was another patented "Matusow blowup." Putting aside that many on poker Twitter will have you believe they're crushers who play perfect GTO in every hand, in this edition of The Muck, we share the poker world's various takes on one of the memorable hands from Sunday's action at Bally's.

For those who are new to poker or too young to recall, during the poker boom era (2000s), Matusow had a reputation from his television image of blowing up (i.e. tilting and bluffing off his stacks in frustration). But despite that image, he was one of the best players in the game and won four WSOP bracelets from 1999 to 2013, along with a 2013 NBC Heads-Up National Championship and countless other accolades. Hence, why he's been nominated for the Poker Hall of Fame many times, including this year.

The Hand

On Day 4, with 677 players remaining in poker's world championship event, Matusow made a bold move on the PokerGO feature table that even had commentator Lon McEachern making an old-school reference."

"All in? All in? Matusow with a 2022 blowup maybe?" McEachern shouted.

So, here's the hand in question, picked up with action on the river. Matusow held {a-Diamonds}{7-Clubs} and his opponent, Mikolaj Zawadzki, held {9-Clubs}{8-Clubs}. The board was {5-Clubs}{q-Clubs}{5-Hearts}{4-Hearts}{k-Clubs}, and there was 162,000 in the pot with the blinds at 6,000/12,000.

Matusow, with nothing but ace-high and very little showdown value, wasn't about to surrender the sizeable pot, so he led out for 70,000. Unfortunately, for "The Mouth," his opponent had a flush, albeit a small one on a paired board. Zawadzki went in for a small-ish sized raise to 175,000, but it was far from the end of the hand.

With 320,000 left behind, Matusow made the bold play to move all in, about 225,000 more for his opponent to call. Zawadzki, with nearly 1 million chips still in his stack, tanked before making the call, sending Matusow to the rail in 677th place ($21,000).

Why He Made the Play

Mike Matusow

On Twitter, the Poker Hall of Fame nominee explained that he was attempting to use his tight table image to his advantage when he made that aggressive play.

During his postgame interview with Kara Scott, Matusow was asked what his friends would say about his decision to bluff-shove in that spot.

"They're going to say that I unnecessarily gave away the Main Event," Matusow answered. "But I think I opened 15 times in four-and-a-half hours, and I never drug a chip, but I never got impatient. They're going to say that was insane and it was a suicide bluff, but I'm going to say that, I don't know, I just, when he raised me, I decided I, when he only raised me a hundred, I know he doesn't have a full house, I know he doesn't have a nut flush draw."

What They're Saying on Social Media

Matusow's play was a hot topic of debate on Twitter after the hand history spread. Not everyone was critical of his play. In fact, many agreed he didn't punt and that his shove was justified. But others weren't quite as friendly.

"I was at the table and was 99.9% sure u had it. The only person who didn’t was the guy who called. That shoulda worked," Kyle Cartwright responded.

"I would think somebody folding every hand for 2 hours would make them more likely to suicide bluff, rather than to give up on a hand on the river," @Kratochvil8228 argues.

"Mike you played like the elite player you are for four days, but sometimes you just gotta say I messed up," @markiemark2009 advised Matusow.

"Mike it’s just easier to say you made a read and play which was wrong. Your opponent nearly min clicked you with a 3 bet on the river where your stack was to short for him to fold to a shove getting ridiculous odds to call," @brett_ernst tweeted.

"Basically only takeaway here is that a handful of people in your world (old pros, pros, handful of regular rich guys who you play with) they will tell you it was a good raise. It was a ballsy play I admit that. But it was also suicide in the end with the ratio of chips," @MattyMocUSA claims.

Many commenters argued that the read wasn't wrong, it was more that he didn't have enough behind to get the bluff through. Matusow only had just over 200,000 on top of Zawadzki's raise, giving the player with the small flush better than 3-1 on a call. But there's another aspect of it in which most didn't consider when criticizing Matusow's play, and that is Zawadzki would have been risking about a quarter of his stack to make that call relatively deep in the Main Event.

Regardless of where you stand on Matusow's decision to shove, one thing is certain and that is it was an entertaining hand.

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