Just how unlucky is Mike “The Mouth” Matusow?

Mike Matusow Feature

01 September 2008

Is luck just “probability taken personally”, as someone once said, or can one be innately unfortunate? Cursed from birth, if you will. Mike Matusow could certainly argue (and he often does) that The Creator has singled him out for repeated catastrophic misfortune at the poker table, but just how unlucky is he? We decided to find out.

It’s the beginning of August in London and the UK capital is in the middle of a rare heat wave, but today, on the very day we opt to kidnap Matusow from his hotel room, the skies hang heavy with ominous dark clouds and a storm is in the offing. It’s clearly portentous of ill-fate and we immediately deduct three precious luck points from our subject, plus another two for having to go through the indignity of being kidnapped by Bluff and being made to participate in a bunch of stupid experiments. We then take Mike for a slap up meal at The Wolesley. He doesn’t have to pay, so that’s plus five luck points.

Over lunch Mike tells us he no longer runs bad, thanks to his newfound discovery of the power of positive thinking. Positive thinking? We make our own luck in this world so give that man ten extra luck points! Neil Channing, however, who foots the bill, is deducted 20 luck points, to be redeemed whenever we get around to paying him back.

Mike then casually informs us that, the day of the $50,000 HORSE tournament at the WSOP, Scotty Nguyen texted to ask if he wanted to buy 50% his action. Mike didn’t notice the text until Scotty had won the bracelet and almost $2 million. We immediately deduct 430 luck points.

Mike’s Fortuity Factor: -430

Experiment #1: The Coin Flip

Right, time for some serious number crunching. After feeding the relevant variables into our office super computer and analysing the resulting data, we were able to conclude that, in order for Mike to be a normal human being with an average amount of luck, he would have to accurately predict the outcome of precisely five out of ten coin flips. We knew that PhD from MIT would come in useful one day, but how would Mike fare when examined under controlled circumstances down at the Victoria Casino? Well, Mike successfully predicted just two out of ten flips, which suggests he is indeed overly afflicted with an unfortunate amount of un-fortune. Mike, however, takes it in his stride: “Yup, that’s about right for me,” he nods sagely.

But in order to accurately assess Mike’s luck factor, we need to compare these results with those of a player with a reputation for being lucky. Enter internet supremo Richard “Chufty” Ashby, a man of whom Mike has gone on record as saying “runs like God”. However, Richard claims this is bad timing as he hasn’t been running at all good this week. “He never runs bad,” scoffs Mike.

Richard proves him wrong by losing a staggering nine out of ten coin flips. The odds of this are just under 1%. Chufty looks shell-shocked. Mike’s luck rating shoots through the roof!

Mike’s Fortuity Factor: 534

Experiment #2: Revel-ations

Non-UK readers may be envious to learn of a hallowed confectionary product available in the UK called Revels, a mix of differently-flavoured choclatey surprises. For years, people have been buying Revels, despite their hatred of the coffee ones, simply because the other ones in the bag are so damn good (On a side note, the peanut ones have been discontinued to prevent people with nut allergies from experimenting with Russian Roulette – fact!).

But how many Revels would Mike be able to guzzle before he hit a coffee one, we wondered. Well, mind bogglingly, after consuming five Revels, Mike has avoided all the coffee ones. Chufty, however, has encountered two. “But I like the coffee ones,” he protests. No dice, son. No dice.

Mike’s Fortuity Factor: 620

Experiment #3 Cracking Aces

How many times can Mike’s aces get cracked in one sitting? Chufty chooses 5h6h as the hand he feels will mostly likely spike Mike’s pocket rockets. Over ten rounds of Texas Hold’em, Matusow, as about an 80% favourite, should win eight out of ten times, although being Mike, he’s probably roughly a coin flip on each hand. A hush falls over the Victoria Casino as the cards go in the air. This is because we just told everyone to shut up so we can finish our important experiment.

Amazingly, every single one of Mike’s hands holds up. At one point, Chufty turns a flush, only for Mike to make quad aces on the river. This has been the most exciting part of our experiment so far, especially since both players have £10 riding on the outcome, and it’s clear that, today, it’s The Mouth who is running like God. Mike holds aloft his ten-pound note in triumph. Give that man 30 points.

However, a question is sitting on the pavement with a can of strong lager and a sign saying, “I’m pertinent”: Would the outcome have been the same if 50 grand had been riding on this rather than a tenner? Hmm… probably not. Minus 12 points.

Mike’s Fortuity Factor: 638

Experiment #4 The Toast Test

It’s one of the central tenets of Murphy’s Law that buttered toast, when carelessly dropped off a kitchen surface, will almost always land butter-side down. However, there is a logical reason for this phenomenon: as any fule kno, the average work surface is only yay-high, allowing for a rotation of just 180 degrees during freefall. Because the toast always begins its descent buttered-side up, it will usually land on its buttery face, and thus gather all manner of dreadful crap from the kitchen floor. But what would happen if the toast was dropped from a much greater height at a 90 degree angle, we wondered. Hold on tightly, kids, because we’re about to find out.

Both our guinea pigs break even on the toast test, each scoring a statistically impeccable five out of ten, so there should be no change to scores. But ask yourselves this: would Bluff Magazine ask Phil Ivey to stand on tiptoe and drop pieces of buttered toast onto the floor in public? Mike, honestly, we just wouldn’t dare. And we don’t think he’d do it either. Ten luck points deducted for not being Phil Ivey.

Mike’s Fortuity Factor: 628

Experiment #5 Going to the Dogs

We’re in the bookies below the Vic now, and all eyes are trained on the 4.18 at Monmore. Mike’s money is on Archie’s Best, while Richard fancies Monty’s Blade. And they’re off! Or at least some of them are. We’re not sure where Chufty’s dog came but we heard they had to shoot it. Mike’s finishes a respectable second, but his money was on the nose so it’s irrelevant. At this point staff ask us what we’re doing in their betting shop with cameras. “Nothing,” we say, and leg it.

Mike’s Fortuity Factor: 645


And there you have it! Scoring a whopping Fortuity Factor of 645, we have scientific proof that Mike Matusow has turned a corner and that a positive mental attitude can save your life. “If you think you’re going to lose, then you lose. It’s as simple as that!” declares Mike emphatically. With his new serendipitous outlook warding off the bad beats, he’s unstoppable.

The sun is now shining and, as we head back for an afternoon’s hard, grimy slog at the office, we leave Mike to enjoy the rest of his stay in London, which, he informs us, he will spend lounging around his hotel room, taking in shows and playing online poker. Then he’ll be whisked off around the world, courtesy of Full Tilt, to resume his life as an international poker superstar. The lucky bastard!