Matt Berkey Talks New Show Dead Money & SHRB On The Poker Life Podcast

2 years ago
Matt Berkey Talks New Show Dead Money & SHRB On The Poker Life Podcast
28 May


It’s Super High Roller Bowl week, and Chicago Joey Ingram is bringing us some of the more interesting players who will join battle for the $6million first prize, none more so than Pennsylvania pro Matt Berkey, whose career is described by our genial host as “up down, up down, up down” in the introduction.

If Berkey isn’t a name you know, it really should be, but with the cash game supremo once stating “I won’t go so far as to say that I hate tournaments, but they’re my least favorite form of poker,” it’s understandable that the public won’t recognize him the way they do some of the other big names descending on the Aria for the $300k buy-in biggie.

Joey Ingram, of course, puts that ‘anonymity’ into the background, quizzing the tall and lean Berkey on everything from his poker background, through his highs and lows in the game to his upcoming new show and his own training academy.

Berkey’s discontent with content

“I’m, not a huge fan of the spotlight,” says Berkey, but feels “there’s a massive hole right now where content isn’t good and I felt we could do something pretty unique.”

‘Dead Money: A Super High Roller Bowl Story’ is what he came up with, a documentary in 8 parts taking us through Berkey’s run-up to his $1.1 million 5th place finish in  last year’s SHRB – a “must-watch” for fans of the game according to many reviews, and coming out just in time for this year’s follow-up adventure.

It started out in Berkey’s head, however, as a ‘what I would do if I made to prepare if I reached the WSOP November Nine’, and since he didn’t but an equally massive opportunity came up with the SHRB, it made sense to turn it from idea into reality.

A New Age, a new cast

Growing up “insanely poor”, his divorced mother suffering from addiction, Berkey’s position in the game and attitude to life are testament to his ability to fight through adversity and come out the other side – and as regards poker, he feels:

“It’s time to move on from the Matusows and the Hellmuths and onto the next generation… that falls on our shoulders, to kind of ‘carry the torch'”.

It’s the “social media, YouTube, Twitch generation” that he wants to step up to the plate – and he includes himself in this group, hence the new vlog and show.

Berkey is not short of opinions, which is exactly what you need for a good interview, and his thoughts on GTO in poker are well worth listening to – stating that those trying to follow the approach of players such as Doug Polk and Ben Sulsky are making “a massive, massive mistake”.

Not that the GTO approach isn’t valid, but the deep-thinking Berkey sees other approaches to the game, his own included, which are just as viable.

The Academy

Berkey has been around a long time, grinding it out back in the mid-noughties before hitting some big scores in 2013, after Black Friday had wiped out a huge chunk of his bankroll, and he’s a refreshing change from the more familiar faces, such as Hellmuth, who followed Berkey into the studio for Joey’s next podcast.

His Solving for Why Academy is a new approach, “very abstract” he states, “getting away from hand histories… we want to empower the attendees to be independent in their learning process”, a move away from the ‘guru-based’ learning we all happily take from the masters of the game today.

“Berkey took our poker brains and completely unraveled them…” is the first testimony on his academy’s website and you can tell just from listening to him with Joey that it would be a novel and effective approach, basically rebuilding brains which have simply been filled with information and not enough understanding.

The one-time baseball pro wannabe who gave up those dreams for poker analyses the two games in his blog, and will give you some idea of how the approach of Solving for Why differs from anything you’ve tried before…


Moving on –and it’s a long, long interview at 3-and-a-half hours – Berkey’s Super High Roller Bowl quest for 2017 will be a colourful affair, at least sartorially, the big man revealing:

“I’m opening it up with a cream-sicle blazer on day 1”, adding “national TV? Who’s going to show up in sweats other than Nick Petrangelo?”

Five days of high-octane poker, streamed pretty much live, is the kind of shot in the arm poker needs – and Berkey himself fancies his chances, although “I’m going to win. I have to – I’ve got too much of myself!” is perhaps not the GTO approach to playing without pressure!

So, Chicago Joey comes through again – a guest of great interest who deserves to be known and listened to by a far-wider public. This interview should go some way to redressing that balance - A+ poker chat.

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Andrew from Edinburgh, Scotland, is a professional journalist, international-titled chess master, and avid poker player.Read more


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