Brooklyn’s Matt Matros left with $303,501 and his second gold bracelet from the World Series of Poker (WSOP) after winning the $2,500 Mixed Hold’em (Limit/No-Limit) event in Las Vegas on Saturday.
Matros, a 34-year-old pro poker player, had previously won the $1,500 Limit Hold’em event last year and added this year’s event #52 by defeating Wisconsin’s Jonathan Lane ($187,844) in heads-up play at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino.
The winner, who grew up on New York’s Long Island, has a degree in mathematics from Yale University, but also holds a Master’s degree in fine arts from Sarah Lawrence College in Yonkers.
The well educated pro has been a serious poker player since 1999 and has made his living through the game since turning professional three years later, although he has also been a teacher, writer and software engineer.
In fact, Matros penned ‘The Making of a Poker Player’ in 2005, which records his early years when making the move from student/employee to full-time pro, while he can count some famous names among his supporters, including Matt ‘Hoss_TBF’ Hawrilenko – who came third in this event – Terrance Chan, Spencer Sun, Robert ‘Action Bob’ Hwang, Bill Chen, Jerrod Ankenman, Andy Bloch and Greg ‘Fossilman’ Raymer.
While obviously possessing many skills that could be applied to countless careers, Matros reckons that, as he has “never fit into the corporate nine-to-five mold”, poker provides a great appeal “because it combines logic with personal skills and the adrenaline rush and immediacy of playing a hand and then having to deal with the next hand – no matter what just happened the last hand”.
That rush of adrenaline is what pulled him into poker so deeply, but he also emphasised that it “did not hurt” that he would be capable of supporting himself financially through the game, while adding that “it’s a fortunate combination of being able to earn a living and doing something I enjoy”.
However, even though it “feels great” to beat 579 other entrants to this title, Matros still believes his first gold bracelet will always have “a unique feeling” because it is impossible to “repeat the feeling of winning your first bracelet at the World Series of Poker”.
Matros – who now has two victories, five final-table appearances and 23 cash finishes from the WSOP, as well as over $2 million in tournament prize money – did have to overcome some formidable opponents when down to just nine players, including good friend and WSOP 2009 $5,000 Six-Handed No-Limit Hold’em champion Hawrilenko, whom he eliminated in third place for $124,837.
Matros had twice come close to making final tables at this year’s series when exiting in 12th for $11,291 in the $2,500 Six-Handed Limit Hold’em event and 11th in the $1,500 Limit Hold’em event – which he won last year – for $11,910.
However, all that changed on Saturday, when the final table saw Brookline’s Adam Sanders ($24,107) first to exit in ninth place, to be followed by Minnesota’s Aalok Arora ($31,047) in eighth.
Netherlands pro Noah ‘Exclusive’ Boeken ($40,284) was eliminated in seventh to leave us with a six-man final table – before Russia’s Nikolay Losev ($52,687) crashed out in sixth place.
Next to go was New York’s Brian Smith ($69,524), while short stack Matros doubled-up and the doubled-up again to get right back into contention for the gold bracelet.
Ohio’s Brandon ‘norajean’ Meyers began the day as a massive chip leader, and increased that during an exceptionally dominant round of no-limit.
However, he was then run over by limit experts Hawrilenko and Matros. Now the short stack, Meyers got all his remaining chips in during a round of no-limit, but saw his queens beaten by Matros’ kings to finish in fourth for $92,642.
Matros then saw off Hawrilenko when making a flush to defeat his friend’s two pair in limit to enter heads-up play with a 3 to 1 chip lead over Lane.
Lane, of Menasha, fought hard and even took the chip lead, but couldn’t hold on as Matros triumphed.
The final hand saw Matros – on the button – open for 65,000, only for Lane to shove all-in. Matros called to show As-10c, while Lane tabled Jd-10h.
The board fell Qh-Qs-5s-4s-4h to give Matros the title, while Lane picked up $187,844 from his fifth cash of this series – just seven days after finishing in sixth place during the $1,000 No-Limit Hold’em event for $77,873.
The leading 54 finishers made the money, with other former bracelet winners such as Mike Matusow (54th for $5,106), Konstantin Puchkov (42nd for $6,228), Chris Bell (35th for $7,653), Scott Montgomery (16th for $11,835) and Max Pescatori (12th for $18,855) also cashing.
Top 10 placings and payouts from the WSOP 2011 $2,500 Mixed Hold’em (Limit/No-Limit) event:
1. Matt Matros (USA) – $303,501
2. Jonathan Lane (USA) – $187,844
3. Matt Hawrilenko (USA) – $124,837
4. Brandon Meyers (USA) – $92,642
5. Brian Smith (USA) – $69,524
6. Nikolay Losev (Russia) – $52,687
7. Noah Boeken (Netherlands) – $40,284
8. Aalok Arora (USA) – $31,047
9. Adam Sanders (USA) – $24,107
10. Dylan Drazen (USA) – $18,855