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Family Feuds & Drug Addiction on Display in Mike Matusow Documentary

Jon Sofen & Connor Richards

May 28, 2024

Several poker legends and friends gathered at South Point on Sunday for the premiere of Matusow, a documentary exploring the highs and lows of one of the most polarizing figures in the game, Mike Matusow.

Award-winning filmmaker Frank Zarrillo began following the four-time World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet winner around since the 2021 WSOP. Over that time, he interviewed countless poker players and media members, including PokerNews' Chad Holloway, one of three of our team members in attendance at the screening.

Others at the private screening included Poker Hall of Famers Phil Hellmuth and Mori Eskandani, but one individual who didn't make it but had much to say in the film is Scott Matusow, "The Mouth's" brother. It was evident in the documentary that there's some animosity between the siblings, or at least was three years ago.

Zarrillo's film showcases a different side of Matusow the public hasn't seen, but also the "Mike the Mouth" character poker fans have witnessed on TV for decades. Within the two-hour film, discussions about drug addiction, the Poker Hall of Fame, Matusow's health issues, and ongoing family feuds were discussed.

Matusow's Family Critical of Poker Legend

It was evident from the movie that Matusow's family doesn't hate him, and there's love deep down. But both Scott Matusow and their mother made it clear many things Mike has done in his life haven't been appreciated.

Scott Matusow brought up Mike's political tweets that are often critical of Liberals, claiming Mike acts in the same manner as the "leftists" he bashes. But it wasn't just the political commentary on social media that upset his family. Previously unpaid debts Mike owed his parents was also a heated topic of discussion.

Matusow's brother and mother were also critical of Mike apparently playing poker instead of visiting his now late father in hospice care. But Mike defended himself by mentioning that back pain made it difficult for him to get out of bed.

Overcoming Pain and Addiction

The documentary explained the origins of Matusow's back pain, which stemmed from an incident driving with Dan Bilzerian in Las Vegas. After experiencing tense back pain and spasms, Matusow underwent a spinal operation in 2014 and subsequently became dependent on painkillers.

The film included emotional scenes of Matusow lying in pain, taping on pain relief patches and plugging into machines as he fought against chronic back pain.

The film also explored Matusow's previous drug addiction in the 2000s, including an undercover sting operation that saw Matusow spending six months in the Clark County Detention Center. But it also showed Matusow getting sober and tapering off of painkillers as he competes in poker events like the World Series of Poker.

Hall of Fame Bound?

The documentary touched on the prolonged discussion of whether Matusow deserves to be in the Poker Hall of Fame. While some including Hellmuth strongly support Matusow being inducted, others like his brother say that his behavior has alienated him from Hall of Fame voters.

Still, several players interviewed in the film said they believed Matusow would be inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame or deserved to be, including 2023 inductee Brian Rast.

Hellmuth argued that a fifth bracelet would make Matusow a Hall of Fame lock. He came close last summer when he finished runner-up in $1,500 Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo 8 or Better and fifth in the $25,000 High Roller H.O.R.S.E.

The documentary ended by asking Matusow how he wanted to be remembered. He said he wanted to be remembered as one of the pioneers of poker.

Director Frank Zarrillo told PokerNews that poker fans can expect the documentary to be released to the public in the coming months.

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