Matt Matros, a poker player, writer, coach — and winner of 3 WSOP bracelets — had an interesting idea for his latest book: he chose the 23 most interesting hands of poker he played in 2023 and analyzed them to see the successes and mistakes he made.
After reading it, I put together the poker book review below. In addition, I also got in touch with Matt to tell us about his latest book, his previous poker books and talk about his successful career, in which he has won $2.5M on the live tournament circuit.
My little stocking stuffer of a book–which wraps up my year in poker through hand histories, analysis, and stories–has arrived! Please grab one for yourself, or for the poker player on your shopping list. https://t.co/FdW26gxiu0
— Matt Matros (@Matt_Matros) December 8, 2023
Review of Matt Matros’ Latest Poker Book 📕
Matt’s latest book is called “Twenty-three No Limit Hold ‘Em Tournament Hands from 2023”. It was published at the beginning of this month and can be purchased on Amazon in two versions: e-book and paperback. It is only 70 pages long and reads very quickly thanks to the author, who analyzes each hand with a touch of humor and does not bore the reader with Pio Solver graphs or complicated mathematical calculations.
The 23 hands are divided into four sections:
- Range versus range
- The bubble
- Anatomy of a victory
The last section has that name since it analyzes hands that he played in a $320 buy-in online tournament on WSOP.com with $100K guaranteed that he managed to win. Something that seemed positive to me is that not every hand analyzed is one that Matt won, and some hands did not go as expected. One piece of advice I give the reader to get more out of reading this poker book is to try to think about what action to take in each street before seeing what the author did.
To sum up, I thought it was a great little book that has just the right ingredients of strategy and entertainment. It was one of the poker books I most enjoyed reading this year. If you are looking for a new poker reading for 2024, it is a very good option. And it’s also great for a 2023 holiday poker gift 🎁.
Thanks, Matt, for answering my questions and I look forward to reading more books of yours in the years to come.
Interview with Matt Matros
How did the idea of making this small book analyzing hands that you played in 2023 come about?
I wanted to get back to my favorite part of poker, which has always been reviewing hands with fellow players. Thankfully, hand review also happens to be one of the best ways to learn and improve. I thought a short book that was both instructive and enjoyable would be fun for me to write, and (hopefully) fun for people to read.
I really liked the style you used, mixing humor with strategies and without Pio Solver graphics. Was your goal to teach without boring people or is it your teaching style?
That is my goal and my style! It’s about to be 2024, and if you’re looking for solver charts and solutions to memorize they’re pretty easy to find. So many great apps and tools are available. A book offers a different way to absorb ideas. I think a lot of people are intimidated by all the information floating around, and find they learn well through a narrative with a book in their hand, and pages they can touch or at least flip through digitally. Some people latch onto concepts much better that way. I don’t want poker study to ever feel like work, especially for non-pros, so that was the spirit in which I approached this book”.
What type of players would you recommend reading the book? 📖
I think any poker player would enjoy this book! But in terms of the concepts I try to illustrate, I think they’re most geared toward intermediate players who are trying to make the leap to becoming consistent winners at tournaments.
Will the poker world see another new book from you in 2024 with 24 hands? Do you plan to play more live tournaments next year?
I sure hope I’ll have a similar book for 2024, but I’ve learned not to make these kinds of promises! And yes, there will likely be more live action for me this year than last”
You recently published two other books 📚 called “The Game Plan” and “The Poker Brain.” Tell us what they are about for those who haven’t yet heard about them.
“THE GAME PLAN is a collection of rules for amateur players to follow that will give them a shortcut to hold their own in tournaments. It also includes a lot of fun hands from my own WSOP Main Event play. THE POKER BRAIN is a bit longer book meant to help readers at all levels improve their real-time decision-making at the table. It teaches the logic and rationale behind optimal play concepts, but also gives a framework for exploiting weaker competition. And there are a ton of example hands to show all these ideas in action. I’ve been very pleased with how both books have been received.
We had heard that you had plans to write a (non-poker) novel. Were you able to move forward with that project? Have you thought about writing a novel with poker in its plot? There are very few of high quality.
I am almost always either writing fiction, or “about to start” writing fiction again. I’ve completed a couple novels that I haven’t published, and I’m “about to” resume working on a third one. When the time is right and when the stars align, I expect you’ll see a novel of mine out in the world somewhere. And no, it won’t be about poker (although everyone always asks if it will!). For me, my poker life and my fiction writing life are completely separate things, and I can’t make my brain bring them together. I am, however, available for hire if someone is making a poker show or movie and needs a writer!
Which player or figure in the poker industry would you like to read the biography of?
Someone who was there from the beginning. Maybe Barbara Enright, who made the Main Event final table in 1995 and is still playing tournaments today.
You have been playing poker for a good couple decades now. What motivates you to continue playing?
I’ve actually been playing poker for about 30 years! Seriously for 25 years, and as a primary source of income for about 20 years. Motivation has come and gone during those decades, but right now is a particularly exciting time to be a poker player, in my opinion. There are a ton of great tournaments drawing huge fields, the resources we have available to study are unbelievable, and I can do things like write a book about 23 hands I played, and have it go from my laptop to a paperback in people’s hands in just a few days. Really heady stuff.
In 2004 you achieved your best result when you placed 3rd in the $25K WPT Championship at Bellagio. What memories do you have of that tournament?
2004 was my biggest financial win, yes. And in fact I’ve only played a $25k tournament two other times since (the same tournament, in 2005 and 2006). The memories are numerous and still vivid after all this time. The biggest thing that stands out is all the dinners I had with my best friend in the tournament, Russell Rosenblum, for five straight days as we both managed to not bust. To find ourselves both at the televised final table of that event was and will always be positively surreal.
In 2010 you won your first bracelet. What did you feel when you won it?
There is nothing like winning your first bracelet. It’s hard to describe, but a mixture of relief, joy, disbelief, gratitude, and exhaustion.
Over the next two years you won two more bracelets. Would you like to play a full WSOP schedule again to try to win your fourth or do you no longer have the energy/motivation to do so?
I never really played a full schedule even when I was winning bracelets, and I doubt I will anytime soon since I live in New York and have a young kid. That said, there are a lot of opportunities to win bracelets online these days, and I’m often trying to do that from my friend’s places in New Jersey.
What goals do you have for 2024 both in poker and in life in general?
In poker, to grow my bankroll at the medium stakes events, and maybe pick one big tournament series to also play. In life, to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. I’m 46 and still don’t know!