Matt Salsberg was one of the big success stories of 2012. He won the World Poker Tour (WPT) Grand Prix de Paris and then made the final table of four other WPT events resulting in him winning the WPT Player of the Year.
He’s sat in the Rio canteen playing open-face Chinese poker with two other members of the poker circus. I don’t know who they ware which generally means they are American, have earned billions and probably own a zillion World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelets between them. An occupational hazard for a British reporter working at the WSOP.
“I am being raped at the moment.” Says Salsberg.
I take a seat next to him and I can assure you it has nothing to do with the rape. He talks whilst trying configure his three hands.
“I have had six cashes out of 24-tournaments so far. A pretty good percentage, but no big scores. So I would say it’s been a fair WSOP up to now.” Says Salsberg.
You can feel the confidence surrounding Salsberg. Like is pretty good and he must have been on an all time high coming into the place he once finished 70th in the Main Event for a $108,412 score. Just two-years before he came to Paris and shook everyone to bits.
“I Probably have more confidence, but it’s poker and anything can happen at anytime. Anything can happen in these huge fields and just one big hit can make it almost impossible to get back into it, so you have to hope you run pretty pure.”
Salsberg didn’t just win the WPT POY race he decimated the field and took it with ease. Actually, that’s not true. It was a photo finish. But in my way of thinking Salsberg should have been light years ahead of anybody after winning an event and making a further four tables. So why was he left biting his nails at the last event of the year?
“The way they work the point system is very heavily skewed to the $25k World Championships at The Bellagio. I got the second highest ever points total in the history of the WPT POY race, but still ended up having a big sweat because there were about four or five people who could have overtaken me by winning at The Bellagio.”
For the longest while the race was between Paul Volpe and Salsberg until Jonathan Roy’s late surge at The Bellagio saw him come mighty close to upsetting the applecart. So what constitutes a POY? I go for consistency, but it seems the point system rewards big money winners, what does Salsberg think?
“When I looked at the way the points were working it occurred to me that it doesn’t reward consistency, and instead big finishes. Paul Volpe, who I was in a big race with, had two really deep runs, but I had a win and four other final tables, but was barely ahead of him at the end of the year. It bring up an interesting point and maybe the points system can be re-examined?”
Salsberg put a lot of time, effort and money into his pursuit of the WPT POY award. So is he going to be doing the same in an attempt to defend his title?
“I don’t know. I have another life as a writer. So I have to pay some attention to that life as I have been neglecting it. And so I’m not sure exactly what my schedule is going to be next year. It depends on how my two worlds develop. I am going to go back to Paris and will try and defend over there. Then I will play The Legends, Borgata and see how it goes.”
Salsberg is an experienced writer, and producer, who has worked on successful TV shows such as Entourage and Weeds. So what’s next for the man who is often left holding the quill?
“I have been playing cards for the past 5-6 months. But I’ve told my agent in, Hollywood, that I’ll be playing the WSOP and then back to business after that. I am going to develop some stuff this year. Basically, write pilots for a studio, and we are negotiating a couple of deals at the moment. Once I know what I am going to write I can then head out onto the road and play poker, because I will have a lot of downtime in hotel rooms and traveling on airplanes. This gives me an excellent time to write.”
I’m sure life in the poker circus creates more than enough stories for Salsberg to write about. More than enough.