His unshaven face makes him look like a cuddly bear, although the way he has been playing of late, maybe badass grizzly bear is a better description. He is wearing a black Hugo Boss hoodie, cream shorts and a dirty white pair of Lacoste plimsolls. His left foot won’t stop tapping and he is burning a hole in the side of Phil Ivey’s right temple.
This is the world of Matthew Ashton. There is 33-players remaining in Event #43: $10,000 No-Limit 2-7 Draw Lowball, and he is sitting pretty in sixth place.
“There’s not many people in the poker world that are scary but Phil Ivey still is to me.” Says Ashton as we pull him to one side for a chinwag.
Given the exemplary form that Ashton has displayed during this series, it should be Ivey that is afraid of Ashton; but when you consider until last year Ivey didn’t even know who Jonathan Duhamel was, then Ashton has to wait a few more years until he receives recognition from the great man.
The young Scouser has made three mixed game final tables at the series this year. The 3rd, 2nd and 7th place finishes has earned him a place in the top ten of the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Player of the Year (POY) race. But is he happy with his lot, or disappointed that he hasn’t got a bracelet tucked away inside his suitcase?
“It’s definitely a success. If you come here and get in profit then you are doing much better than most of the people here,” says Ashton before continuing, “It hurts to not win the bracelet, but at the same time, making three final tables shows some recognition, because I have got there time after time instead of just winning a single bracelet.”
The UK is one of the hottest countries for No-Limit Hold’em (NLHE) players, but with the exception of Richard ‘Chufty’ Ashby, Stephen Chidwick and Stuart Rutter not a lot of them have migrated towards the mixed game action. But with Ashton the roles are reversed. Here is a kid who revels in the mixed games. Stud, Omaha, Lowball and Razz are like black stockings and suspenders whilst NLHE is just a pair of brown stained granny knickers.
So what are the mistakes that Ashton sees in 2-7 No Limit Draw Lowball?
“People over value pat Jacks, and they put too much money in pre flop. I also think a few people play draws that are too weak, and also go all-in with a draw too often. It plays so well with a draw to just call and have their implied odds after the draw, but a lot of people just want to get it in and try to force the fold pre flop.”
Ashton doesn’t give you the impression that he forces anything. His face carries a patience that’s beyond his years and that patience is what makes him a great poker player.
As I leave him I cast an eye over my shoulder. He has assumed his position at the table, foot tapping and eyes burning into Ivey again. It won’t be long before this guy is a WSOP bracelet holder…won’t be long at all.