The Bernard Lee Poker Show (4/7/20): Matt Savage

By Bernard Lee
April 10, 2020

Interview with Matt Savage discussing the effects of COVID-19 on the poker world.  

WATCH: YouTube Video of the interview

Matt Savage

In this episode of The Bernard Lee Poker Show on the Cardplayer Lifestyle Podcast Family, Bernard Lee interviews World Poker Tour’s Executive Tour Director Matt Savage, who ran three consecutive WPT Main Events during the early part of 2020. The final Main Event was 2020 Shooting Star Bay 101 which ended in an ICM chop due to COVID-19. Matt describes not only the details of the Bay 101 Main Event (March 11-13, 2020), but the weeks leading up to that WPT event. Matt also discussed the beginning of his career up to winning the GPI Global Award for year’s Best Tournament Director.

0:00Welcome to The Bernard Lee Poker Show as this week’s guest will be World Poker Tour’s Executive Tour Director, Matt Savage.
2:11Red Chip Poker Ad
3:01Bernard welcomes World Poker Tour’s Executive Tour Director, Matt Savage.
3:27Matt joins The Bernard Lee Poker Show.
4:32Matt discusses how he got started in poker as a chip runner, dealer and eventually running tournaments.
6:00Matt notices that everywhere you went the rules were different, which led to his creation of the Tournament Directors Association (TDA).
9:40Matt discusses winning the 2nd Annual Global Poker Awards Tournament Director.
11:50Matt recalls his early days with the WSOP, including during Chris Moneymaker’s win in 2003.
13:36Matt recalls the birth of the World Poker Tour and the current state of the WPT.
17:03Matt reminisces about acting in the 2007 poker movie, “Lucky You.”
20:37Matt discusses how important it will be for him to eventually inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame.
22:16RunGood Gear Ad
23:00Bernard continues his interview with World Poker Tour’s Executive Tour Director, Matt Savage
28:57Matt recalls how the WPT LA Poker Classic began the process of COVID-19 slowly becoming relevant not only in the poker world, but the entire world as it became a global pandemic.
31:24Matt reveals that regular attendees, including Phil Hellmuth and Jared Jaffee, cancelled their planned trips to LA Poker Classic.
35:20Matt describes the precautions taken by Thunder Valley Casino and the details of the event.
37:27Matt reveals that some Shooting Stars begin to cancel: 8 of the 32 cancelled due to COVID-19.
40:38Matt remembers the significant announcements on Day 1 of Bay 101, March 11, 2020 such as NBA shutdown and Tom Hanks testing positive for the coronavirus.
41:33Matt describes Day 2, which included 8-handed play, unprecedented at Bay 101. He also decided to play additional levels to reduce the Main Event to three days from the original four days. At end of Day 2, Matt ran the ICM numbers in case Bay 101 closed down the next day.
44:20Matt remembers Day 3 an the eventual ICM chop due to COVID-19 concerns including one player not feeling well. Prior guest of the show, Craig Varnell was declared the winner. Later that Day, Bay 101 closed its doors, becoming the first California casino to shut down.
51:45Matt discusses about Club WPT daily bounty events.




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Bernard Lee poker author
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Bernard Lee

Bernard Lee is a professional poker player who has more than $2.5 million and ten titles since turning pro following his 13th finish in the 2005 WSOP Main Event. Recognized as “the voice of poker in New England” by Cardplayer.com, Lee is known worldwide as a poker media personality having written for ESPN.com, PokerNews, Card […]


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