By Matt Hamilton
Hey! My name is Matt Hamilton. Before I chat about poker, I’d like to briefly introduce myself.
I’m 27 years old, married, with one girl and another kiddo on the way. I live and work in North Minneapolis, and absolutely love it there.
I work with young people, and can say with confidence that many of the skills and disciplines I’ve attained through playing poker have translated to my work with youth, and vice versa.
I love the game of poker, specifically No-Limit Hold’em. I’ve played competitively since I turned 18, but I started to take it very seriously after I moved to Minneapolis four years ago. When I realized I could play substantial tournaments on a weekly basis at Canterbury Park, I was stoked!
(Ed note: If you’re interested in blogging about poker for Canterbury Park email firstname.lastname@example.org.)
This year I had the privilege and opportunity to play in Las Vegas at the World Series of Poker.
I went once when I turned 21 and played one event, but haven’t been able to go back until this year.
While there this year, I played in The Marathon and The Main Event. I’m incredibly grateful that I got the opportunity to play both events, though I did not cash either of them.
I busted Day 2 of The Marathon and Day 3 of The Main, approaching the money bubble in both tournaments. Though it didn’t feel great to play for so long and not feel any reward in both cases, I got the opportunity to play with some great players, practice concepts of the game I’ve been working on, and embrace the magical ambience that is the WSOP.
Since returning home, I’ve taken time to do some reflecting on my experiences from the WSOP.
I put together some insights I hope can be helpful for players who are considering taking shots at some bigger events that would normally be outside of their price point, or just looking to be a better player in general for the stakes they normally play.
Don’t let the buy-in amount dictate the way you play.
There were a few spots in The Main where I made some very conservative folds that in hindsight were pretty clear mistakes:
• Folding JJ pre-flop to a 15 big blind shove and a call in front of me.
• Folding AKs facing a four-bet after three-betting small blind vs button pre-flop.
It can be easy to get overwhelmed when facing big decisions, and end up being overly cautious in certain spots because you don’t want to bust out in a big tournament. However, getting stuck in this mindset will allow better players to run over us and take advantage of us.
Don’t ride the emotional rollercoaster.
Tournament poker is a tough grind. It’s filled with mostly moments of disappointing results, with a few moments of success mixed in.
If you focus on the result and let that dictate how you feel, you’ll be mostly miserable, and who wants that? Busting The Main sucked, but I’m over it. Appreciate the strategy behind the game, focus on improving mistakes, and remove emotion from the equation.
Don’t get too upset when you lose and don’t be too overjoyed when you win.
Study, pay attention, and make adjustments.
I’ve been putting in some serious hours over the last year studying. I can’t emphasize how important this has been for me.
There are plenty of ways you can study, and plenty of price points, from free content online to paying large amounts for individual coaching. A good place to start is watching twitch streams (Jason Somerville is my personal favorite, and you can watch tons of past videos of his for free on Twitch), or pay a small fee for PokerGo and watch tons of content with good commentary.
The bottom line is, if you aren’t actively trying to improve, you are falling behind. Keep a humble attitude and always be looking to improve on mistakes and learn from those better than you.
Hope to see you on the felt!