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Poker News | People in Poker | Poker Interviews

The Round Table – Matt ‘Plattsburgh’ Vengrin

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He is 24 years old and he’s already cashed for over a million dollars in tournament poker. He’s made a WSOP TV final table, and most recently he took 2nd in the biggest weekly online tournament. Matt Vengrin explains why he did it, where he did it and how he did it.

KL: Why poker?

Matt:
Well, as a psychology major in college I really enjoyed studying people and just basically keeping my mind in shape. I don’t like waking up to an alarm so this is one of the few professions where I can do that.

KL: Did you start out playing live or online?

Matt:
Technically I started live, playing small sit-n-go’s with my friends. I started playing online shortly thereafter. So I guess I sort of started with both but I consider myself a live player since I love being able to see people when I play them.

KL: What are the biggest differences?

Matt:
Online it’s more about bet sizing, timing tells, and betting patterns. Live is a lot different. You can be way more patient and you can get physical tells on people. Also another important factor is that people don’t want to look stupid live so sometimes they won’t pull the trigger when they would online because they don’t mind looking stupid while they are by themselves.

KL: If you had to teach someone the most important thing to remember at the poker table, what would it be?

Matt:
Bankroll management for sure. When I try to convince some of my friends that it’s the most important part of poker I use this analogy. If Phil Ivey played Bill Gates heads up, Gates would be able to choose stakes where Ivey would only have a buy in to it. And even though Ivey is a better player than Gates, luck might allow Gates to win that one match. Now if Ivey had 100 buy-ins to the game, there’s no way Gates would be able to win Ivey’s money. That being said, I’d still put my money on Ivey.

KL: You have said you are athletic and competitive - what sports do or did you play?

Matt:
I started playing organized basketball in 6th grade, for the CYO travel team. I then played on the JV team and the Varsity team in high school. In high school I also ran track and cross country to stay in shape for the basketball season.

KL: How does being athletic and competitive help your poker game?

Matt:
I learned to be very focused while playing sports. In poker it is tremendously important to maintain focus for long periods of time. I also really enjoy winning, so it makes me focus very well when I am deep in tournaments.

KL: Where and what do you play online?

Matt:
I try to play all the sites I can, at the moment only Ultimate Bet, Full Tilt Poker, and PokerStars. I play both online and cash. When I play cash I play a lot of games. I’ve played H.O.R.S.E., Omaha, Omaha HL, NL, and LHE. I usually play 1/2-5/10 NL, 2/4-10/20 PL, and 30/60-100-200 LHE. I predominantly play tournaments though, where I try to play tournaments from 50 dollars up to 5k buy-ins online, and higher live.

KL: What was making a WSOP TV final table like?

Matt:
It was surreal, I did not even realize I was there until I showed up and saw all the lights and did the interview with Norman Chad and Kim who are both great people. It was unfortunate I could not do better, I got kind of unlucky but that happens in poker. I was third in chips and lost 9-9 to A-Q, and then I lost A-J to K-Q both were all in preflop.

KL: If you could change anything about the way you played at the final table - would you?

Matt:
Well they say hindsight is 20/20, but I don’t think I could have done anything differently. I had 700k at 30k 60k with 5k antes and reraised Alex Jacobs 150k raise from under the gun all-in. I guess I could have flat called and got away on the flop, which was Q high. Other then that I was happy with the way I played and I have no regrets.

KL: You recently took 2nd in the Sunday Million on Stars – what are your thoughts on that tournament?

Matt:
It is the best value tournament on the net by far, every week it’s 200k to first and more quarterly. I did well in the quarterly tournament, which was a 500 dollar buy in. I just kept getting it in good, and I was only all-in I think twice the entire tournament until I was at the final table.

KL: Was it a smooth ride or lots of ups and downs?

Matt:
It was actually a fairly smooth ride. I chipped up from 100k to 2 million without much trouble, there were a few ups and downs with 20 people left but I was able to recover and go into the final table pretty comfortable in chips.

KL: When you get down to about the final 3 tables are you taking risks looking to make it to the final table with a lot of chips or do you play slow and lets others be the aggressor?

Matt:
It totally depends on the situation, in this case I noticed the table playing pretty tight mostly so I took advantage and played aggressively. When I would take some hits I would slow down a bit and try to pick my next spot more carefully.

KL: You have said you don’t like to look at the tournament lobby when you play - why is this and do you think it helps or hurts you in any way?

Matt:
I just don’t care about the money; at least the pay jumps so I don’t bother looking at it. I think it’s just distracting. I think it helps me because I’m not worried about anything that’s happening except the current situation and I am living in the moment.

KL: How do you handle your nerves? Is it ever nerve racking when you make it deep?

Matt:
It is a bit at times, but I’ve learned not to let it affect my play overall. If I was nervous at the WSOP I would have just folded the hands I went all in with and tried to move up in the money. Instead I went for it and unfortunately it did not pan out, but I am confident next time I am there, I will seal the deal.

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