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WSOP rail: Matusow and Cloutier provide entertainment for fans9 July 2007
Watching poker (without hole cams) over a long period of time can be a boring proposition. Fold, fold, fold. Muck, muck, muck. And not a peep out of the players. That's why one of the featured tables Sunday afternoon at the World Series of Poker was such a welcome relief. The table had Mike Matusow and T.J. Cloutier -- and they know how to entertain.
Cloutier started Day 1C in the Player's Pavilion tent -- an auxiliary playing space used when the Amazon Room at the Rio All Suites Hotel & Casino can't accommodate all the players on a given day. As a result, Matusow was left to his own devices to entertain himself -- and did he ever.
Matusow provided the signature moment of this year's WSOP when he tried to get Mr. Peanut, who was wandering around the aisles of the Amazon Room, to join him at the table. Mr. Peanut refused, so Matusow jumped the ropes and tried to tackle him.
Mr. Peanut tossed a punch, escaped Mike's clutches, and signaled -- with little circles around his waist -- that Matusow lost because of his rotund belly.
When Cloutier joined the table short after the Mr. Peanut incident, the friendly banter kicked up a notch.
First, Cloutier and Matusow quizzed WSOP Media Director Nolan Dalla on the structure of the tournament. They were wondering if there going to be two Day 2 rounds, or one like was originally scheduled. (Dalla told them two.) Then their attention turned to surviving Day 1.
"If I could, I'd buy into the second day of the tournament." Matusow said.
"I've only survived Day 1 seven times," Cloutier added. "And four of those times, I cashed or reached the final table."
"I always make it into Day 2," Matusow responded, just hours before busting out. "I know what it takes (to play) on Day 1."
About twenty minutes later, the players had a quick break. After the break, spectators were allowed to wander the aisles of the Amazon Room for the first time Sunday. And everyone flocked to Matusow's and Cloutier's table.
"There's Mike the Mouth," exclaimed one fan. "We love you Mike," shouted other fans as cameras clicked right and left. One fan, who didn't want to leave without a picture of Matusow asked loudly: "Does anybody know how to use the camera on my phone?" The crowd roared with laughter as they continued to jockey for position outside the ropes.
Inside the ropes, things weren't going well for Matusow or Cloutier. Both found themselves short stacked after faring well earlier in the day.
As their chip stacks dwindled, Joy Cloutier, T.J's wife, made her way through the crowd to stand on the ropes. T.J. noticed her instantly.
"Did you have any problems getting in," T.J. mouthed.
"No," said Joy as she flashed a blue WSOP bracelet on her wrist.
T.J. then looked down at his chip stack, shook his head, and smiled weakly at Joy.
"He's down to under 6,000 chips," said Joy, showing chip counting expertise most pros would love to have. "He had more than 28,000 chips before the break."
Still, T.J. was happy to be playing at this table. "It was so hot out in the tent," Joy said. "He couldn't stand it."
Within minutes of Joy's arrival, Matusow busted out of the tournament.
Matusow went all in with pocket threes and was called by a player with pocket jacks.
"Don't worry," someone in the audience shouted. "You'll flop a three."
Unfortunately for Matusow, the cards didn't break his way, and he found himself out of the tournament.
"I suck," yelled Matusow with a smile on his face. "You play bad and you get what you deserve."
"I misplayed two hands," Matusow told a friend as fans shouted "You're still the best" and ESPN chased him down for an interview.
Matusow granted ESPN's interview request, and then bolted for the exit as TV cameras tried to chase him down and film his exit.
After Matusow left, so did much of the crowd. But as the crowds eased, one elderly gentleman approached the ropes and said hello to Joy.
It was Frank Henderson, runner up to Johnny Chan in the 1987 WSOP Main Event. Joy smiled warmly at Henderson and recounted T.J.'s situation. T.J. smiled and waved to Henderson when he saw him talking with his wife. After listening to Joy's tale, Henderson told her not to worry because T.J. can come back. Then Joy asked me to tell him about Matusow's bust out. I did, and Thompson rewarded me with a nice discussion of poker history.
"Johnny Chan sucked out on me to win in 1987," Henderson said. "I told Johnny the other day that they never remember second place."
"It used to be that I knew 75% of the players in the tournament," Henderson said. "And I knew 5 or 6 of the guys when I sat down at a table."
Henderson then paused to give T.J. some encouragement. "You need to get your voice back," he shouted.
"I can't with these cards," T.J. responded. "In the last three hands, I had deuce-four, deuce-trey and deuce-four."
Henderson chuckled, and shifted back into story-telling mode. "Hold'em is my least favorite game. I prefer thinking man games, like Stud 8 or better or Omaha 8 or better."
We were then interrupted by WSOP officials trying to herd fans to the stadium seating area to watch Chris Moneymaker play.
"The game is so much more commercial since he won," Henderson said. And with that, his attention shifted back to T.J. who was starting to gain some chips. And I went off to watch more poker, and maybe learn a little bit more about poker history.
WSOP rail: Matusow and Cloutier provide entertainment for fans is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.
Best of Vin Narayanan