The “Mission Impossible” table of Season 4 of Poker After Dark upped the ante in table talk and tension when the 0-8 Mike Matusow was tasked to defeat five previous PAD champs. David Williams, Gavin Smith, Clonie Gowen, Phil Laak and Phil Hellmuth each took turns needling Matusow in their own way exclusively on PokerGO -but ultimately Gowen walked away with her third win.
Matusow sat at the PAD felt for the ninth time at the time of taping and was running particularly bad between Seasons 3 and 4. He had finished as high as runner-up but his previous four appearances Matusow finished in either fifth or sixth place.
Hellmuth put Matusow in a negative space at the outset of the table, where Matusow mucked ace-king preflop.
Not too much later, Laak held pocket eights and three-bet Matusow preflop. He moved all-in after Hellmuth folded, Laak found the fold button and Matusow tabled his hand – seven-four of spades.
After the table reacted, Matusow said, “Beating me today is going to be very, very tough.” His statement rang true a short time later in a hand against Smith where the flop went Matusow’s way.
He opened under the gun with ace-jack of clubs, Smith raised all in holding ace-queen offsuit and Matusow insta-called. “The truth of the matter is that every time I raised and they re-raised me, they had me beat. Every. Single. Time. This is one of them where I just took a stand,” he said.
Matusow’s stand doubled him up and gave him the stack to survive Williams’ and Smith’s eliminations. Matusow cut Smith down to a short stack in hand that Smith felt Matusow misplayed.
“I think his call out of the blind is pretty bad,” Smith said. “The lead on the flop is ok, except for the fact that I’m going to call him with ace high…then on the turn, he starts to play the hand disastrous. I don’t see how he leaves $5,000 behind.”
“I could have moved him all in, I was sure I had the best hand,” Matusow said. “I didn’t do it; my radar had already been off twice – if I’m wrong I’m out of the tournament. I felt like it was a safer play to call there.”
Unfortunately, Matusow didn’t overcome the “Mission Impossible” and fell short of winning. Watch all the episodes in the series in The Vault on PokerGO for an up-close look at Matusow during a period when confidence was a leak in his game and his emotions were volatile.