Episode 120: Matt Savage

Matt Savage, tournament director extraordinaire, talks shop about it takes to put on a great tournament series. We discuss the Tournament Directors’ Association, some of its more controversial rules, and Matt’s role as its public face and mouthpiece, as well as the delicate balancing act required to accommodate the interests of professional players, recreational players, and the casinos themselves. You can and should follow Matt on Twitter @savagepoker and pester him with all of your rules questions, whether mundane or arcane.


0:30 hello and welcome
13:28 strategy
33:12 matt savage


Live Holdem NL Level 1 Blinds 25/50
First hand of the tournament so everyone has 15k in chips
Hero is dealt KsKh
SB posts 25
BB posts 50
(Hero) UTG raise to 150
UTG+1 raise to 325
UTG+4 call
SB call
BB fold
(Hero) UTG call

Flop (1350): 9s4h6s
SB check
(Hero) UTG check
UTG+1 check
UTG+4 check

Turn (1350): 4s
SB bets 600
(Hero) UTG call 600
UTG+1 fold
UTG+4 fold

River (2550): Jd
SB bets 1200
(Hero) UTG call 1200

17 thoughts on “Episode 120: Matt Savage

  1. I’m surprised by your ambivalence toward playing poker at the Sheldon Adelson’s Venetian. You are right, the actions of one person won’t matter in this instance. But the actions of a group does matter. The actions of one person rarely makes a difference in any national issues, but the actions of all us as a group always matter.

    Otherwise, great show.

    • As I might have mentioned on the show before: I imagine that if one were to list the 25 most loathsome behaviors or political positions that casino owners have done/promoted, I don’t think that Adelson’s stance on online gambling would make the list. I’m happy to speak out against Adelson’s views and perhaps to take part in well-planned group actions, and other things equal it does make me slightly less likely to play at the Venetian, but I don’t see any reason to swear off playing there.

      • I guess its personal choice then. I dont know specifically of the other acts of Casino Owners you mention but Adelson is trying to take away some peoples way of making a living for his own benefit. What if Adelson was advocating to end taxes going to special programs in education like a debate program? Ending independent debate programs entirely. Would AB still be playing at the Venetian. Its not enough to say that one player doesnt effect the outcome. But I think it does.

        Nothing gets accomplished if we thought that way.

        • I heartily agree that nothing gets accomplished if we just throw up our hands and figure we can’t do much difference either way. I radically restrict my diet to avoid eating factory-farmed products, spend time and money trying to decrease my carbon footprint, etc.–none of these are things I would do if I didn’t believe in removing myself from institutions I think are sufficiently bad.

          That said, Adelson’s taking aim at online gambling, while I think it’s the wrong thing to do, isn’t heinous enough (in my view and relative to what other casino owners are doing) to make me want to shun the Venetian. I certainly understand if others disagree.

        • I agree with Keone. The Venetian casino owner is a direct threat to our ability to play poker online. I don’t know of any other person or organization that provides such a serious threat to our freedom to play. If poker players don’t take a stand against the Venetian, what will we take a stand for?

          He’s also become heavily influential in American politics and has the ability to swing elections This is not someone I want to support in any way. I thought it was a bad idea for the TDA to host their event at the Venetian and I’m glad they found another location.

          • I’m pretty much with Nate on this. I think there are two separate questions on this:

            1. Do I have a moral obligation not to play at Venetian? If, for instance, they used slave labor, I would refuse to play there on principle, even if I didn’t think my refusal would make any difference to their behavior. I don’t think Adelson’s political stances (and his anti-online poker advocacy is not even the most objectionable thing about him) rises to that level.

            2. Is it efficacious? If it’s not a moral stand, then it’s a weighing of costs and benefits. Obviously I have some long-term interest in seeing online poker return to the US, but I think that whether or not I play at Venetian will influence that in only a very small way. As Nate said, it makes me slightly less inclined to play there, but if a particularly good opportunity presents itself, I don’t feel obliged to pass it up.

          • All of that said, there won’t be a nitcast meetup at the Venetian any time soon. I do think that the actions of an organization like the TDA, or to a much lesser extent the Thinking Poker Podcast, have some symbolic significance that is greater than that of individual decisions.

  2. I think we should backup and acknowledge some commonalities. I think everyone in this post (and a majority of your audience) disagrees with Adelson on the issue of online poker. What then should we do about it? Here, we should be open enough to allow each person to take a different approach, and not argue with each other about not responding in the same way. Some think a boycott of Adelson’s properties is best. Some oppose Adelson’s take but don’t rate it a significant enough issue to take any action. Some make a heartwarming video that strongly counters anything Adelson has to say: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JRu_8K-zY9c

    For me, I find boycotts to be ineffective and often silly. The point here is that Adelson is wrong. You don’t fix his error by staying out of his poker room. You fix his error by pointing out to as many people as you can how and why he is wrong. Adelson is spending money on media and politicians to get online poker banned. A boycott of his casinos can only be an impotent attempt to limit how much money he spends on that effort. I think a better approach is to counter his influence in the media and with politicians.

    One final note that goes beyond this topic. There is a trend in America that we have to completely isolate anyone and anything with which we disagree. That is just immature. If you live an interesting life, you’ll disagree with lots of people on lots of things. and if you isolate yourself from them, you’ll end up alone. I can support gay rights and still enjoy a chicken sandwich at Chik-fil-A. This shaming and isolating of our neighbors over differences in opinion has to stop.

    • There’s also a consumerism angle here (if by ‘consumerism’ we mean something like ‘the tendency to locate one’s identity in one’s purchasing decisions’). It’s sad to me that buying or not buying things is such a standard mode of political expression. Which of course is not to say that it’s not frequently wise to buy or not buy things for political or ethical reasons.

      • I dont agree. In the 70’s we boycotted companies that developed Agent Orange and other Chemical weapons ised in Vietnam. Companies like Monsanto and Dow Chemical who were also making things for home use. Martin Luther King used boycott in the struggle for civil rights. So did Gandhi.
        Nowadays people like Apple is boycotting cities making discriminatory laws. It seems to be effective.
        So I dont think boycott is “immature” or “unwise”. It is a peoples response to injustice.
        Im not calling for a boycott to the Venetian. I am saying I am not playing there for a reason. I dont think that reason is inconsequential. You do what you want to do.

    • No one is trying to shame anyone. I still purchase stuff in stores that sell cigarettes. I find it an evil business. But I did say it was a personal choice but just not one that should be taken lightly. Rosa Parks decided one day not to sit in the back of the bus. Surely she was one insignificant person on the map of race relations but she started a boycott that changed the country. I think we all benefited by her actions.
      This is a poker site and Adelson is trying to hog all the poker business for himself, without caring for you or I. I personally find him revolting and hypocritical. This is me. You do what you want to do.But know this. Many dont have the privilege to play anywhere else. We dont have the means or freedom to fly off to Canada or Costa Rica to play in online events on Poker Stars and Full Tilt. Many dont have the bankroll to play outside of micro stakes. Many live in areas miles away from a casino.
      If Adelson has his way the best we can do is play for play money.
      One last thing. Because someone is below the water line mark in criminality doesnt make it easy to swallow. Bundy didnt kill nearly as much as Hitler and his ilk. But he isnt more acceptable because of it. But again like I said its a matter of personal choice. Like Tupac said, “Go on boy do your thing, I aint mad at ya.”.

      • Then we’re good, because I ain’t mad at you either.

        Your Apple example is interesting. They are taking a stand against discrimination in the U.S., where homosexuality is open and accepted, while continuing to do business and have operations in many countries (I think they list 17 on their website) where homosexuality isn’t just discriminated against, it’s illegal and punishable. So their stance is a pure self-serving farce (just like Adelson’s position). I think Monsanto and Dow are doing just fine.

        The Parks/King example is important. Parks essentially had no other options (no other way to fight the system). King used boycotts but only to get the attention of the media and the politicians. And I’m glad they did what they did. My point is that we need to be targeting the media and politicians, and avoiding Sheldon’s poker rooms won’t achieve that. It won’t impact him financially, it won’t change his behavior, and it won’t aid our cause. And I think Andrew and Nate are correct that it doesn’t rise to a moral issue.

        I’m sorry to stir up this thread. I love this group and I’m not trying to hijack what was a very good episode. To a kid with a hammer, everything looks like a nail. I jump at any chance to argue against economic confusion, and IMO, boycotts fit that mold.

        • Well Russ we’ll just have to continue to have this discussion at some time but Im not advocating a boycott but I feel a personal choice of not participating in a business that he finds the owners reprehensible is a good choice. I don’t think that personal choice is confusion, impotent, silly, or ineffective either. And I find boycotts to be very effective in the quest for justice.
          I lived during the time of the draft. I made a choice not to participate in it as well as many others. Some sacrificed a lot by making that commitment. I like to think that we did something to end that war.
          As far as your example of Apple doing business in countries that are homophobic isn’t that the same analogy you make with the Chicken sandwich thing. Everybody at one time is in collusion with something. Hilary Clinton takes money from Arab countries. So what. That doesn’t prove a thing about the 54 laws she helped enact particularly one for help to Wounded Warriors.
          Anyway like you said you love this site. And so do I. I think its one of the best poker sites out there. Perhaps because it entertains ideas and thoughts that go beyond the cards and into humanity. Which I find refreshing. I think this is due to our wonderful hosts Nate and Andrew who I am in awe of. But like that kid with a hammer I cant help myself when it comes to social justice and I see Adelson as the real enemy to our rights.

  3. So is Savage saying that if I check behind the river (after calling the turn) with the nuts, then it’s ok if my justification is that I want to ensure seeing my opponent’s hand (and think that’s more valuable then the chips, e.g. one of us only has a small remaining stack relative to the pot)?

    Kudos to Nate for bringing up the tax issue – it definitely makes being staked for tournaments a hassle.

    • If we do check behind there and villain chooses to muck, can we ask the dealer to fish out the cards and flip them? At one time, I thought I heard this was now against the rules, not to mention likely to start an argument. If you do that and then show the nuts, you might have to request a police escort to your car.

      • The way you been running lately I think you would need a police escort to your car when you leave the casino!!!!

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