This year, during the World Series of Poker, Matt Stout launched the Charity Series of Poker. Stout has a significant following on social media and has won approximately six million dollars in his poker career. Let’s find a little bit about the new charity series and what is going on in Matt’s life.
Tell us about the CSoP and why you started it?
I started the Charity Series of Poker as a way for people to give back to their community and the world while having a blast doing it. I absolutely love being able to play the game I truly love for a living, but it also doesn’t serve much of a purpose in the grand scheme of things. There always seemed to be a void of charity tournaments being run by reputable people for worthy causes on the major poker tournament trail so I decided to step up and try to make it happen. Not only does the CSOP enable poker pros to make tangible contributions to great charities, but it’s also a great way to let loose and have a blast playing the game we love and reminds us why we are so lucky to do it for the living in the first place. Alcoholic beverages outnumber serious stare-downs by at least 20:1 in CSOP events.
How did you meet Matt Salsberg and what part has he played in the CSoP?
I met Matt Salsberg a few years ago during the World Poker Tour LA Poker Classic main event. This was after his deep run in the WSOP Main Event but before he really broke out, so I didn’t even know who he was at first but overheard him chatting with another player about his role as writer/co-producer of “Weeds” which was one of my favorite shows at the time. We started hanging out together on the tour and playing lots of OFC and now I usually stay at his house in LA when I’m out there. He was a featured pro for the first two CSOP events and has been really helpful in spreading the word about the series on social media and by wearing a CSOP patch at his WSOP final table this summer.
The last time we hung out you brought a Playboy Playmate and a gorgeous actor/model with you. Is this pretty much how you live?
You know how I roll, bro. Ballin out of control, poppin bottles with models, etc. etc. (I hope no one failed to pick up on the sarcasm there.) Those were just a couple of friends of mine who were coming out to be featured players in CSOP Event 3 at Borgata in Atlantic City in an attempt to lureeee in the guys. It seems like most poker players would rather get to sit with a Playmate or rap video vixen than a WSOP Main Event champion, so we try to give them the opportunity to do both.
Speaking of women, did I hear that you are engaged?
Yep! It’s actually kind of an ironic story…I only met her because of Black Friday. I hired the Poker Refugees relocation service to help me get set back up on Stars and Tilt in August 2011 since they were based in Costa Rica which is where I wanted to move anyway. While I was at the bank in Costa Rica for HOURS waiting to get my bank account set up with the owner of Poker Refugees, Kristin Wilson, her little sister Shannon arrived on a flight to visit her. Kristin had her driver drop Shannon off at the bank, which gave me a chance to get to know her while I was trying to kill some time. We hit it off immediately and were talking about getting engaged within six months, but it took almost another year before I turned her into a Rangers fan and was finally able to clear all the hurdles to propose to her on GardenVision at Madison Square Garden during a New York Rangers game and get on the ice after the game. She’s living with me at my house in Las Vegas now while she finishes up her last year of law school at UNLV and we’ll be married next year.
What’s next for the CSoP? What are the long term plans and what you like to see it become?
Our next event is going to be in April at Borgata so that it coincides with the $15k World Poker Tour Championship event. We’re working on getting a great group of big name pros and celebrities to attend so that we can draw a big crowd and raise a lot of money for Habitat for Humanity and the Community FoodBank of New Jersey.
My long term plans are to host more events in the US and internationally, possibly partner with one of the biggest existing tours, and expand the number and types of charities that we partner with and raise money for. I’ve been really fortunate to have a lot of pros, celebrities, casinos, and sponsor companies get behind the idea and brand in a big way because they see how easy it is for us to do so much good and they want to be involved. Hopefully, we continue to find and make these connections and grow the CSOP until it becomes a ubiquitous part of any big tournament series.
What do you do when you aren’t playing poker?
Hanging out with my fiancée and our two dogs, a 5-year-old Husky named Roldy and a 6-month-old Boxer named Chloe. I use sports as a way to enjoy cooking and eating out without becoming too ridiculously fat (again). I’ve recently started playing hockey again and am learning how to play tennis. I also spend a lot of time studying the game and have several students who I do one-on-one training with. Anyone interested in personal training can contact me through my website at www.stoutpoker.com/contact.
What are your long term goals for your poker career?
I want to keep improving my game and making a living doing what I love to do, plain and simple. I try to play every hand the best way I know how and not get too wrapped up in the results. As long as I manage to keep making a comfortable living at it and supporting my fiancée and future family while running the CSOP I will be extremely grateful and satisfied. Every once in a while I check what my ranking is on various leaderboards out of curiosity and while it’d be great to reach #1 on them one day I’d hate to spend a large chunk of my life traveling to tour stops I don’t want to go to in order to chase points. Although I definitely plan to stay ahead of the curve and work hard at poker, I’m finally realizing how much more important leading a balanced life is than chasing titles and glory.
Are you happy with poker as your primary income source, or do you have other plans?
Yes and yes. I plan on keeping poker as my primary source of income for the foreseeable future, but there’s a very good chance that poker will eventually take a back burner. If it does I’d mostly likely start my own business or possibly go to law school (even though just about every person I know who has done it, my fiancée included, advises me not to). One of my other potential plans is to teach game theory and poker at UNLV because I’ve had a lot of fun teaching my students and watching them become better players and have huge five-figure and six-figure scores.