On the Button: With poker pro Matt Glantz

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Matt Glantz, 42, is one of poker’s most highly respected pros and is ranked 22nd on the Global Poker Index. His blog at mattglantzpoker.com carries some of his thoughts about major issues that players face today. He serves as the poker ambassador for Parx Casino in Bensalem, Pa., playing regularly with locals and consulting on tournaments from a pro’s point of view. Dave Lemmon recently sat with Matt during a break in the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Showdown’s main event.

Is there a real shot of Pennsylvania getting online poker in the near future? There is talk of it in the state government, but Pennsylvania is a state that moves very slowly, so I’m not overly optimistic for the very near future.
But is it helping that move forward to have New Jersey right nearby? I think they’ll take a look at the money earned by the state each month and they are going to want that kind of tax revenue also. They don’t want Pennsylvania residents crossing the borders to play in New Jersey online; they’d rather keep them in the state, so I think it’s inevitable down the road.

You wrote a piece on your blog about what players would like to see on the WSOP schedule and as a result, they implemented a lot of your ideas, so that has to make you feel good. Jack (Effel) and Ty (Stewart) were very open to suggestions; I thought there were some things that could really help them. On my blog, I said I felt they had lost their focus in the last few years and the series was a mishmash of events with buy-ins all over the place from $1K up to $10K. I thought there was a way to improve their brand along with the player experience. I felt the best way was to stick to the $1,500 events and the $10K tournaments, getting rid of most of the events in between. Poker needs to get on TV more often to appeal to a broad-based audience, so we need to create stars in the game. There’s no sport that is televised that doesn’t have its stars, so the $10Ks accomplish that goal, narrowing down the fields usually to high-profile players. More of those players will be making final tables and winning bracelets in those championship events, then you’ll still have the smaller buy-in tourneys. Anyone can take a shot at those. For some reason, there is a psychological barrier at $1,500 where many players that are not that experienced refuse to jump into the mixed-game events if it’s over that price, but for $1,500 they usually will take a shot. It’s a good way to introduce them to the games then if they have enough interest. Maybe they’ll try a $10K next year.

I think your point was the people who would play the $2,500 and $5K events would enter the $10Ks anyway, so why not take them to a true championship level? In the end, they did set up a run of 12 different games this year featuring a $10K buy-in.

Were you happy with the way the schedule turned out? I think they did an excellent job. Ty and Jack are running a ship that doesn’t have any real competitors on that level, so for them to take suggestions and continue to try to improve their product every year, it says a lot about those guys. Not everybody would listen seriously to people from outside their inner circle.

How do you feel about the $10-million guarantee for first place in this year’s main event? I think it’s a tremendous marketing tool and everyone has the same chance going in. They’re just changing the payout structure and everyone knows what that is before the start of the tournament. So now they’re adding a nuance that could bring more people to the main event.

You have a family, and now you also have responsibilities to Parx Casino. How much of the WSOP will you play this summer? Unfortunately, I won’t be there the entire time. I’ll start about a week late, but that’s only because I have to attend a friend’s wedding at the end of the first week. Then during the middle to late portion of the series, I’ll fly home to spend a few days with the kids before they go to summer camp. I get back for the $50K and the main, so I’ll be there about 75 percent of the time.