Matthew Pitt has worked in the poker industry since 2008. Best known as the UK Editor for PokerNews, Pitt also writes poker news and poker strategy articles for a number of well-known and established European-based online poker sites.
The bulk of Matt’s poker work is targeted at UK-based poker players and fans, but that doesn’t preclude Americans like me from enjoying the great poker writing her produces.
With that in mind, I invite you all to read Matthew Pitt’s story, as he’s the third subject in our ongoing series poker interviews entitled “Get to Know the Poker Media.”
How did you first get into the business of poker writing and for how long have you been doing it?
Approximately 12 years ago I broke my arm after crashing my motorbike into the back of a Land Rover, and was signed off work for six-to-eight weeks while it healed (I had a manual job back then). One day, I visited our equivalent of a shopping mall, and in the toilets I saw an advertisement for something called Pacific Poker, which is now 888poker, and decided to give it a try when I returned home.
After quickly losing $100 and then another $100, at a $1/$2 no-limit hold’em cash table, I gave up. I didn’t have a clue about poker, didn’t even know the rules; so no wonder I lost. I watched the tables for a little while and saw the same couple of players consistently winning, which to me meant there must be some skill involved, and decided to do some research on the Internet.
I found forums, details of strategy books, etc. and started studying the game. Around a year or two later, I started playing for micro-stakes online, and started a blog of my “progress.” It was an old Blogger blog where I wrote about poker and everything going on in my life including the shenanigans I got up to on a night out. It quickly became popular, and a man called Dave Allen contacted me and asked if I would write a blog for Betfair’s poker site. I took him up on the offer, and everything snowballed from there.
What poker outlets have you written for and which has been your favorite gig over the years?
My first writing gig was the Betfair blog where I wrote a column called “Pud’s Poker Progress” – people know me as Yorkshire Pudding or Pud! From there, Betfair asked me to write a basic strategy piece each week, then some news articles.
— Matthew Pitt (@YorkyPuds) April 7, 2016
It wasn’t paying much, but I still had my day job. I was put in touch with a company in Leeds, UK, called Independent Content Services, where I churned out approximately 50-100 articles every month that were based around keywords and phrases. As you can imagine, this quickly grew boring, and despite it being a steady income, I eventually gave that up.
I wrote a few bits and pieces for Betfred and Ladbrokes, then an occasional article for partypoker, and one or two pieces for the PokerStars Blog. One day, Barry Carter contacted me and said that PokerNews were looking for new live reporters, and asked if I would be interested in a trial. I was immersed in poker at this point and bit his hand off, had a successful trial, and became part of the live reporting team. This led to live reporting work on the World Poker Tour.
Eventually, Barry left PokerNews for PokerStrategy, and I took over his role as UK editor, a role I’ve had for the best part of five years I think.
More recently, I have been working closely with the partypoker blog and their social media channels, which is something I enjoy very much.
— Matthew Pitt (@YorkyPuds) April 7, 2016
It’s hard to say which gig is my favourite because they all have their positive and negative points, but I’d have to say PokerNews simply because they were my so-called big break. I love discovering British players who are winning, have managed to travel the world, and I get to work from home!
What is it that you love about poker that keeps you so interested in the game?
I love the battle of wits, and the psychology of the game. I also love how the game seems to be constantly evolving, so what was optimal a few months ago become almost obsolete. The money aspect is also interesting; non-poker playing friends and family members still look at me in disbelief when I mention some of the figures involved.
What sort of job(s) did you have before getting into poker writing?
I left school at 16 after achieving excellent grades in my GCSE exams (our end of school examinations). I did start studying for my A-levels, but a couple of terms in I decided my heart wasn’t in it and dropped out.
I started working behind a bar before working for a company called O2, a major mobile phone company. There, I worked in the warehouse at first, then was a forklift truck driver, before joining the stock control team in the offices.
Many of the staff, myself included, took voluntary redundancy, and from there I did a few more warehouse and office jobs before taking the plunge with the poker writing work.
Is there anything you feel you learned/gained from your days doing manual labor that has helped you with your poker writing career?
One of the major things was learning to communicate with staff of all levels. There was a definite chain of command to adhere to, and we were always in contact with supervisors, managers, senior managers, and even transportation companies. Knowing how to approach these different levels of authority have helped me in the poker world, particularly at live events when mixing with fellow bloggers, managers, floor staff, tournament directors, etc.
Tell us a bit about your personal life; where you live, family, etc.
I’m 35-years old, born in the city of Leeds, but now live in a town called Huddersfield. I have two children, Kieran (13) and Luke (7). The former lives with his mum and I see him on weekends, while the latter lives with me half of the week. Oh and I have two cats, a Persian called George and a normal “moggy” called Jess.
I have been seeing a woman called Keli for almost 11 weeks now and we’re really happy with how things are progressing.
How often do you play poker? Home games mostly or in poker rooms? Cash or tourneys?
I used to spend every waking hour playing poker, and even used to play online while I was working. I love live cash games, but prefer tournaments online and have had some success, although most of it was a couple of years ago when I was dedicated to learning and improving.
To be honest, I’ve hardly played poker during the past year. I don’t really have the time required to keep ahead of the curve (or even on the curve) and sometimes the last thing you want to do after writing about poker for 10-12 hours is sit down and play poker for another few hours!
I doubt there will ever be a time where I completely give up playing because I enjoy it, but it’s unlikely you’ll be reading about me smashing up the online tournament scene any time soon.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about poker writers/writing?
Many people believe that we’re failed poker players, which may be true to some degree. I mean, look at me, I was all for becoming a poker pro, realized it wasn’t going to happen, and have made a living from the game from a different angle.
I’ve also had people say that the poker media don’t really care about the game, and are simply writing for money. I can hand on heart say that every person I have had the pleasure to meet while working in poker does care about poker, and has its best interests at heart.
There are also those who believe that poker writers are failed writers in another field. By that I mean we’re not good enough to write for other publications. That’s total horses**t! I am by no means a great writer, but what I write I do well, and it is well received by my audience.
Look at the likes of Dr. Pauly, Howard Swains, Stephen Bartley, Martin Harris, and Brad Willis, among others. They are phenomenal writers, I’m a huge fan of Brad’s work; I honestly do not know how he does it.
Contrary to what some players might believe, poker writing doesn’t pay too much, especially if you’re a freelancer. Do you do any other sort of work, writing or otherwise?
I’ve been very fortunate in that I have managed to work for some of the larger outlets throughout my “career,” so while I am hardly going to be living like Dan Bilzerian any time soon, I do OK.
This is also because I work for PokerNews and partypoker at the same time, and recently started writing a few articles for a sports betting affiliate. I put the hours in; that is for certain.
What other hobbies do you have? Tell us about them.
Video games! I am a big video games nerd. I grew up with consoles and computers, and they have stuck with me despite now being 35 years old. There’s nothing I like more than firing up the PlayStation 4 after a day’s work and chilling out. My collection of games stands at 53 for this console; maybe I need to get out more?
— Matthew Pitt (@YorkyPuds) May 11, 2016
I’m also a big fan of football (soccer to you guys outside of the UK and Europe). My team is Leeds United, and my boys and I have a season ticket, so we attend every home game and have started travelling to away games, too.
From your perspective as a hobbyist gamer, how do you feel about the emerging ties between the poker and e-gaming worlds?
I’ve always likened online poker to a video game version of the game so it’s not surprising that there are now links emerging between the two products. E-gaming is big business, but it’s not something that I, even as a quite dedicated gamer, follow.
I’m not sure why I don’t because I play some of the games that are played professionally (CounterStrike for example), but a lot of it is streamed online. Like my lack of playing online poker recently, I don’t want to sit on my computer/iPad all night when I’ve been tied to it all day working.
On a related note, what are your thoughts re: Twitch Poker and what Alex Dreyfus is doing with the GPL?
I really want the GPL to work and to attract new players to this fantastic game. However, since its launch, I’ve watched maybe 10 minutes of one of the heads-up matches and that is all. It simply doesn’t appeal to me on any level despite my obvious interest in poker.
I could just as easily fire up PokerStars on a Sunday evening and watch some of the action on there. In a nutshell, I just don’t find GPL entertaining enough to warrant me spending time watching it. I’m the same with TV shows; if something doesn’t grab my interest immediately, or one of the characters give me something to care about, I won’t invest my time in it.
What do you enjoy writing about most in poker – lifestyle/feature pieces, op-eds, promotional stuff, tourney recaps, live/online poker news, or live reporting?
I prefer tournament reports and tournament previews because I have them perfected for me. That said, I have enjoyed conducting interviews – the transcribing can be a nightmare if it is a long one – and do enjoy writing promotional pieces because sometimes it is a challenge to make a free $5 bonus sound enticing and interesting!
What’s something you still haven’t yet done/accomplished in poker that’s on your bucket list?
I’d love to record a live tournament result so I could have a Hendon Mob page. I’ve probably only played 15 live tournaments and none of them have finished in the money. I do have a handful of cashes from my local casino from a few years back, but they never made it onto the database.
Alright, the stage is yours – go ahead and let loose about something you just HAVE to get off your chest.
I’m not sure there’s anything that needs getting off my chest, in all fairness. I do, however, get asked often about how to get a foothold in the poker industry.
My usual response is to find a style of writing that suits you and your strengths. Keep plugging away and sending emails, etc., to websites, be active on social media and get yourself known within the poker industry.