Matt Graham is one of the most controversial characters in online poker but no-one can deny his talent for the game.
‘MattG1983’ has been a fixture in the high-stakes MTT’s since the beginning, taking down the PokerStars Re-Buys as early as November 2005 (for $17,070) and since then has gone on to accumulate almost $1million in prizes on Stars alone. Most of his online highlights have actually come in this tournament, and he has outright victories in no fewer than eight $100 Re-Buys for a combined total of over $200,000! You won’t find Graham in any lower buy-in event than this, however, and he is a regular in the bigger tournaments such as the Stars Super Tuesday & Full Tilt $1k Monday. Highlights include victory in the Sunday Second Chance ($53,329) as well as seconds in the Super Tuesday ($50,434), $1k Monday ($56,960) & $750k GTD ($93,879, losing to Greg ‘DuckU’ Hobson in heads-up play).
But it’s in live tournaments that MattG has really transformed his game in 2008 and he earned over $700,000 in offline cashes in just 12 months, including a WSOP Bracelet. Graham got his start in the game playing online low-stakes Limit games so perhaps it is fitting that his finest World Series came in the $1,500 Limit Hold ‘Em Shoot-Out (the last event before the ME), good for a cool $278,180. This is despite him getting just 2 hours sleep before the final table and coming in with a short-stack! He also recorded 3 other cashes at the Series, including a 12th in the $2,500 Omaha/Stud Hi/Lo Event for $15,171 – an impressive achievement in a field littered with experienced specialists in both forms of the game. But Graham bettered that in December ’08 – taking down the $5,000 NLH Event of the Doyle Brunson Classic and trousering the biggest score of his career to date – $320,000. This was a 247 runner field littered with quality – David ‘The Dragon’ Pham & ElkY were on the final table as well – and further enhanced his reputation in Vegas circles.
For all his undoubted talent, however, Graham does divide poker opinion and some very negative comments on his personality can be found in a number of online forums. One famous altercation came in a hand against Daniel Negreanu at the Gold Strike in Tunica back in 2007. Graham had 18 big blinds and shoved over Negreanu’s button raise without looking at his cards – Daniel woke up with JJ (vs Graham’s J3) and criticised him for what he called ‘kamikaze poker’. Graham responded in a Poker Listings interview: “I don’t know if he just doesn’t understand the math behind the play or whatever, but he made some comment about me playing “kamikaze poker,” which is just ridiculous. I play a pretty tight game but there’s a lot of solid math behind that play, and for him to criticize it I guess says that it’s not really a play that he’s accustomed to in the live circuit, whereas online it’s a pretty common play.” And Bryan Micon created a thread on the Never Win Poker forums entitled ‘MattG1983 – biggest douchebag in online poker’ after some apparent unflattering berating from Graham at the rail of a tournament (see here). Possibly the most interesting, though, is his contribution to a Two Plus Two thread regarding the alleged cheating of Sorel Mizzi, saying of Imper1um: “Alot of people know about everything you are up to. So just leave off the bull**** story. Just keep quiet you shady ****…” (See the whole discussion here).
Whatever you think of MattG1983, he has been crushing high stakes MTTs for a number of years and after his WSOP bracelet you should keep an eye out for him on the Vegas tournament circuit this year.