Mike “The Mouth” Matusow again made headlines in the wrong way this week when he tilted wildly during a recent 2020 WSOP Online bracelet event, accusing an opponent of slowrolling him and threatening violence against the opponent while he was podcasting his own play in the event on his own Twitch channel.
Matusow even went so far as to offer any of his Twitch stream’s viewers a $50 bounty if they could dox the player, known on WSOP’s online site as “wolverine17”, so that Matusow could seemingly track down the player and “knock him out”. Lance Bradley over at PocketFives was one of several people who transcribed Matusow’s unhinged rant, and part of what Bradley transcribed included these Matusow gems:
“I’ve got this guy’s name written down. I’m going to find out who he is. I’ll see him in person, I’ll fucking knock him the fuck out. Think I won’t? Watch. I am going to find out who this motherfucker is and I swear to you I’m going to throw him up against the fucking wall and tell him, ‘you fucking ever slow roll me again, I’m going to beat your fucking ass’.”
One of Matusow’s fanboys soon ID’d “wolverine17” as being a woman, Meg Milly, which led to Matusow offering this choice line:
“do you enjoy acting like a fucking c—–t by slowrolling people online where nobody can see you? Learn poker etiquette or your poker career won’t last long! Sincerely Mike”.
The thing was, it turned out that Milly’s alleged “slowroll” wasn’t even intentional. Though Milly didn’t detail what happened, it was likely the result of a brief disconnect from the WSOP.com client, and that sort of thing happens all the time. (This I know from first-hand experience.)
The criticism soon rained down on Matusow, and to his credit, he did reach out to Milly and apologize for his blowup. That the blowup occurred at all, however, was both par for the course for “The Mouth” and a laugh-worthy self-own, as it was Matusow’s breach which truly violated poker etiquette.
Yet the episode led to a segue worth some more discussion here. Matusow’s blowup occurred verbally on his own Twitch channel and not in the chatbox on WSOP.com, and if one is familiar with Matusow’s past, he’s abused other players in chat many, many times over the years. Yet the WSOP, in one of the more interesting technical moves of recent times, made the decision before the start of the WSOP Online series to disable all chat across the entire site.
That was strange on its own, yet it likely saved Matusow some sort of penalty, up to and including a temporary ban. Instead, as Bradley discovered when he contacted the WSOP’s Ty Stewart to see if Matusow would be penalized for the violent threats. Because those threats occurred on Twitch and not directly on WSOP.com, Stewart played the “slippery slope” card regarding social media and affirmed that no action would be taken. Overall, I agree with that part of the decision because, as I’ve said before, the WSOP is a business brand and not the global poker police.
There are a lot of people who think differently, however, and a lot of them make very good arguments. Veteran gambling writer John Mehaffey took the WSOP to task for failing to penalize Matusow and set some sort of behavior baseline, and it is very, very true that by choosing to just turn off all chat, the WSOP is depriving its players of some of the value they’re supposed to be getting by playing on the site in the first place. It’s also true that the WSOP.com online poker site is really a subpar, barebones offering, and the evidence of that is everywhere. (Maybe I’ll do a post some time about all the WSOP.com fails; they’re numerous and often unbelievable to any poker player who knows the ropes.)
As for Mehaffey, he’s long held a grudge against the WSOP for its imperious and unfair behavior in a couple of earlier matters, which in part explains the angle he chose in his own take on Matusow’s outburst. I’m familiar with some of the details, and I can affirm that Mehaffey was indeed wronged in the past. Most of the WSOP’s execs and employees are great people, as one would expect, but as with any large business, there are a few unprofessional people scattered throughout the ranks.
But let’s focus on the chat thing a little more closely. As I pointed out to Mehaffey on Twitter, the WSOP disabling its online chat is most likely a leading indicator of just how cash-strapped the WSOP and Caesars is at this point in time. Remember that Caesars was in bankruptcy for several years, and the company was finally sold/merged with Eldorado Resorts last year. Still, no matter what the company is called, there’s a ton of debt on the balance sheets, and it’s been that way with anything Caesars for at least 15 years.
I then went on to explain my own personal experience with chat abuse while playing poker on WSOP.com, which showed to me that the site was both unwilling and likely understaffed and underfinanced to police chat properly. I also detailed a little episode that began on June 28, 2019, when I was playing on the site: It took a handful of Twitter posts to explain the story:
Replying to @Haley_Hintze
I played quite a bit on WSOP.com last summer, though I wasn’t eligible for bracelet events. Around June 28, I received the nastiest chatbox attack I’ve encountered in several years. It occurred in a small-stakes tourney, maybe $10 or $20 buy-in. /2
I’d put a mild beat on a player named “MelvasMoney”. (I looked him up a little later and learned he was from New Jersey.) Anyhow, IIRC it was one of those AK v AQ things later in a tourney, where I caught the Q and busted him. So then the chat went like this: /3
MelvasMoney >> get it in dominating …
MelvasMoney >> and the fA GGET donk wins I HOPE YOUR RAP ED AND KILLED YOU FKN BICH
MelvasMoney >> hop your walking one night and baseball bat to your fkn head … /4
I didn’t bother responding, of course; nothing to be gained. But the chat was way, way over the line, so I sent it to WSOP.com’s support, as an experiment if nothing else. I really figured if he’d done it to me he’d done it to others, and he deserved a chat ban. /5
Two days later, I received the expected boilerplate response that stated “A warning will be issued to offenders.” And that I should block the player in chat, like duh obviously. But the nonchalant response was to me an indicator that http://WSOP.com didn’t give a fuck. /6
So when I see that WSOP.com has disabled all chat for the WSOP Online series, it just screams to me that the WSOP doesn’t really care about providing a quality experience, and it likely doesn’t have the funding to hire a CS staffer or two even if it did care. /7
Whether or not Caesars and the WSOP can properly support online poker remains an open question. Currently, disabling all chat is just a giant band-aid designed to cover up the site’s own inadequacies, and it does nothing to grow the game. (Finis.) /8
Let me add a few things: I’d said absolutely nothing in the chat to that point (I don’t use chat much myself, but I read other players’ input), and the threats were nonprovoked. I also really didn’t care that much about “melvasmoney” anyway, as I’ve encountered hundreds of punkass keyboard warriors in my time and I’m way too familiar with the breed. He probably deposited a couple of hundred dollars and had already donked off most of it, whatevs.
My concern, though, was that the chat threats were violent and direct enough that this was likely a serial chat abuser, and he was deserving of at least a temporary chat ban, if not a full revocation. But, if I’d really wanted to press the issue, I could’ve identified myself as a third-party contractor presently working with the WSOP, and I could have sought to escalate it internally. My screenname on that site includes my first name, some of the threats were anti-women in nature, and that’s an ongoing issue across the entire poker world.
But I didn’t quite go to that extreme; it just wasn’t worth that much hassle. Instead I sent the chat as copied above into the WSOP site’s contact system, and I put the punkass out of my mind, as any veteran of online play knows to do. I was torn. Many online players are newer, especially at lower stakes, and while I can deal with this sort of garbage, if I can help others to not have to do the same it’s worth it to me to help clean things up a bit. However, the episode itself is in the past, and I wouldn’t even have thought about it all more recently if not for Matusow’s outburst, the WSOP’s disabling of all chat, and the growing realization that things aren’t quite right.
As I noted in my reply thread to Mehaffey, I received a standard boilerplate response a couple of days later. Here was that response in full:
We regret to hear that you have had an unpleasant experience of this nature at our tables.
Please note however, that our software includes a ‘Disable Contact’ feature. If you don’t want to communicate with a certain player, simply right-click the player’s seat and select the ‘Disable Contact’ option. You will then no longer see chat messages from this player.
Be assured that WSOP.com takes matters like this very seriously. If someone is offending you, please send us an email with the following information:
* Your play mode – e.g. Play Money or Real Money.
* A screenshot of the offensive chat.
A warning will be issued to offenders. Nonetheless, if you experience a similar problem again in the future, please notify us immediately and provide the required details mentioned above.
We sincerely apologize for any offense caused by this individual’s actions and hope that this has not discouraged you from continuing to play at WSOP.com .
If you need further assistance with this or any other matter, please feel free to contact us via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
We’ll do our best to respond within 72 hours of receiving your message.
Action’s on you!
Player Support Representative
The brushoff really couldn’t have been any more clear than the line saying, “Please send us an email with … a screenshot of the offensive chat.” Which was, of course, exactly what I’d already done. So, whether they’d actually sent a warning or not, it was clear to me that this was the latest in a world filled with infinite examples of customer non-support and non-service. Regarding Caesars and the WSOP — and largely because of those other, greater issues — such chat abuse was being ignored by support staff.
Fast forward to this year and recent events. To me, it was absolutely no surprise to see the WSOP turning off all online chat. Sometimes, actions have unusual consequences. Here, it ended up giving Mike Matusow a break, as if he actually deserved yet another one. Matusow is among that rank of players long given special privilege at the WSOP, yet the decision not to penalize him for his threats against “wolverine17” wasn’t a matter of privilege; it was just the way the whole thing worked out.