|Title||Check-Raising the Devil|
|Pros||The biography of one of the least boring people in the poker world.|
|Cons||Way more than you ever wanted to know about drugs (both legal and illegal).|
|11||Mike the Mouth's Heart of Gold|
|17||Dead End Dreams||1|
|19||Drugs and Disorders||2|
|23||High on Poker||3|
|37||Other People's Money||5|
|45||The Almost Bracelet||6|
|51||Hard Lessons at the Final Table||7|
|57||On My Own||8|
|63||I Have a Dream||9|
|71||Out of the Shadow||10|
|79||Cards Make You, Egos Break You||11|
|83||The Day That Changed My Life||12|
|95||Main Event Meth||13|
|107||Without a Net||14|
|125||Up for Another Series||16|
|131||Last Tango in Paris||17|
|157||A Phone Call in the Alps||19|
|161||Playing on the Precipice||20|
|183||Six Months Flat||22|
|197||Last Dance at the Horseshoe||23|
|211||A Champion's Vindication||24|
|233||My "Dark" Series||26|
|239||A Series of Changes||27|
|247||WSOP: A New View||28|
|253||Now I Know||29|
But it turns out that most of his problems stemmed from an undiagnosed and untreated illness. He was eventually diagnosed as bipolar, meaning he experiences higher highs and lower lows than most people. The way he's led his life has contributed greatly to the roller coaster, reaching the top of the poker world and the bottom of a solitary confinement cell in prison. His autobiography, Check-Raising the Devil, shares all the excitement of his life, both the good and the bad.
Matusow's first addiction isn't to drugs but to video poker. With the odds against him even with perfect strategy, he nevertheless continually wastes away his paychecks for the small thrill he experiences when he wins. Gambler's Anonymous fails to cure him, but a friend who sees him playing introduces him to real poker. At 21 years old, Matusow discovers he's a 'natural' and has found his true calling. Soon he is playing $1/$2 Limit Hold 'Em cash games almost every day and making about $500 a week. Fortunately, his new addiction is profitable! Within a year, he wins his first tournament for $10,000 and earns a nickname, "The Loud Mouth", which doesn't like. Instead, he starts calling himself just "The Mouth", and fortunately the adjusted moniker sticks.
Still primarily a Limit Hold 'Em player, Matusow finds the day's Hold 'Em satellite full at the 1997 World Series of Poker, so he decides to take a crack at a Limit Omaha Hi-Lo satellite. After some brief advice from Mark Gregorich to restrict his play to hands with A2, A3, or A4, he not only wins the satellite but reaches the final table of the bracelet event, ultimately falling to Scotty Nguyen heads up. His first WSOP cash brings in $81,700.Matusow doesn't play the Main Event because of his lack of experience with No-Limit poker,1
Matusow says on page 72, "... no matter what anyone tells you, No-Limit Hold 'Em and Limit Hold 'Em are not the same game. They're as different from each other as piss and water."
Alex Brenes is Humberto Brenes's younger brother. Their brother Eric also plays poker professionally.
A cold streak playing high stakes cash Limit Hold 'Em and Omaha Hi-Lo cost his entire bankroll, and he chooses not to look for a backer, instead starting over by borrowing $100,000 against his house.
A couple of party-hardy friends introduce him to Ecstasy, which soon becomes addicted to, even though he denies it. He next gets hooked on crystal meth through his girlfriend Teri yet manages to keep playing poker well for a while.
Nevertheless, during this phase in 2001, Matusow makes it to the WSOP Main Event final table, where he places sixth for $239,765. But because he wants to win so badly, what many other people would consider a tremendous success sends him into depression, and the drug use takes its toll. Matusow is on and off meth while losing $700,000 over the next half year. He finally turns things around after Teri breaks up with him. He gets off drugs, working out a gym and running when he feels withdrawal symptoms, and loses 20 pounds.3
The book covers his first weight loss bet with Ted Forrest in 2008, but was published before the infamous followup prop bet.
After failing to cash in a few events at the 2002 WSOP, Matusow satellites into the $5,000 Limit Omaha Hi-Lo then upends Daniel Negreanu heads up for his second bracelet (and $148,520). More importantly, he wins without using drugs.
After staying drug-free for a while, he relapses before the 2003 WSOP, where John Brody stakes him on the condition that he stay clean. Instead, Matusow takes smaller amounts surreptitiously and plays only well enough to break even.After a trip to France with Howard Lederer and David Grey, Matusow finally gets the help he needs. A psychologist orders him to stay clean for thirty days, then a psychiatrist diagnoses him as bipolar. With proper medication4
Matusow took Depakote for his bipolar disorder and Lexipro for his depression.
The next dark chapter of his life is spent in jail after his "friend" Mike Vento (real name Gennaro), who had stuck with him during his month-long cleanse, asks him to buy some cocaine for him. It's a sting, and Matusow eventually chooses to spend six months in jail instead of risking a sentence as long as ten years.After serving his time, which did have the upside of forcing him onto a regular schedule with his medications, Matusow makes it back to the 2005 WSOP Main Event final table, this time finishing 9th for exactly a million dollars, of which he nets about $250,000,5
Matusow had to pay his backers and some other outstanding debts.
In 2013, Matusow won a fourth bracelet in the $5,000 Seven-Card Stud Hi-Lo. Impressively, each of his bracelets has been in a different game: Hold 'Em, Omaha, 2-7 Draw, and Seven-Card Stud.