For Matt Glantz, family and poker rule his life

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Matt Glantz is a former options trader turned poker pro specializing in high-limit cash games and big buy-in tournaments. He plays in some of the biggest mixed games in the world. The 39-year-old Glantz travels the circuit when it fits his schedule and plays in a $300-$600 mixed game he created at the Borgata in Atlantic City. He’s been playing professionally for nine years and has lifetime tournament winnings of more than $4 million. He nearly won a $3K no-limit hold’em bracelet at the 2005 World Series of Poker, finishing second for almost $365K.

Glantz continues to prove he’s one of the hardest workers in poker and was appointed to serve on the Standards and Conduct Committee of the Epic Poker League.

Where did you grow up? I grew up in Lafayette Hill, Pa., which is where I still live with my wife and two kids. Lafayette Hill is a small suburb right outside of Philadelphia.

What is your best game? I really don’t have a best game. I’m not fundamentally great at any specific game. I am capable in all forms of poker and make my money off of my opponent’s mistakes. I have a knack for playing my opponent and exploiting their weaknesses. The actual form of poker we are playing at any specific time is irrelevant to me. It’s always still poker.

You’ve played in hundreds of tournaments; what’s been your favorite experience? I really enjoy the challenge of playing live tournaments. Even if you cash at a huge rate of 20 percent, that means 80 percent of the time you’re leaving the tournament a loser. So, it’s tough to get accustomed to, but as long as I can be profitable in big tournaments I will continue to travel with the tour when it fits my schedule. It will surprise nobody to know my favorite event each year is the $50K Players Championship at the WSOP. It’s an event that features all the most well-known players in the world and brings out an amazing aura of top competition in a tournament that’s high on everyone’s list to win. I have made the final table of that event twice in the last four years, but finished a disappointing fourth and fifth. But I still love the event.

What are some of the biggest mistakes you see players make in the early stages of tournaments? Well, it seems that every big-buy-in tournament we are so deep in chips to start that it is a crucial mistake to overvalue hands. When you have 40 blinds in a tournament and you overvalue a hand it’s not nearly as huge as when the effective stacks are 300 blinds and you do the same.

Overall, how was 2011 for you? I had a good year in tournaments. That was the first year I had put an emphasis on tournaments at the expense of cash games. I had buy-ins of about $400K and cashed for over $750K. Cash games I had a terrible year. I was in the black, but only small, and every time I took a step forward, my wins seem to get reeled back in. I played at a much higher level than ever before in tournaments, but in cash games I know I played worse than ever overall. It’s tough to balance the two and I will be working on that more this upcoming year.

What do you do with most of your free time? When I’m home I’m busy with the kids. We got a ton of activities going on daily. Basketball, gymnastics, Aikido, drama club, dance artistry. My wife has a tough enough job when I am home, but when I am traveling for work her job just seems impossible.

If you could change one thing about the WSOP schedule or events what would it be? Easy, move it from June to May like the old days. It would be so great to not have the WSOP in the summer. When the kids get done with school for the year I would much rather be spending time with them than in Vegas while they’re starting their summer.

If you weren’t playing poker for a living, what would have been your second career of choice? I was an options trader on the Philadelphia Stock Exchange for 10 years. I would have to say I would be back on the floor. Very similar job to poker.

Let’s say there’s another major poker boom and you, Jason Mercier and Phil Hellmuth were offered a reality TV show. How much would it take to convince you to do it and how do you think it would turn out? (laughs) Funny. It would be a no-brainer. I would do it instantly. It would be exactly this. Jason and I would be constantly needling Phil until he couldn’t take it anymore. Jason hustling Phil for all the money as I was eagerly watching for moments to needle Phil. Phil telling the audience how insanely lucky Jason is and then Phil not really understanding our needles. Did I mention needling Phil? That is what the show would be about. Jason is the only poker player I know that needles as much at the table as I do. Good thing we are friends.

As far as goals for poker go, do you have specific ones you’re focusing on? Yeah, I gotta win a big tournament and a WSOP bracelet. I won an EPT High Roller for $800K a few years back, but never won a big tournament in the states. Also I have never won a bracelet. I have a second, third, fourth, fifth, another fifth and a sixth at the WSOP. That is frustrating.

— Mike Owens is the Ante Up Ambassador for Western Pennsylvania and West Virginia. He’s a poker player, journalist and creator of CheckRaze.com. He can be reached at anteupowens@gmail.com.