As anyone who has kids knows, they literally change their parents’ lives. You suddenly have the lives of others in your hands and that carefree lifestyle you used to have is gone out the window. Bar-hopping? Nope. Staying up until 3am? Gone.
For Matt ‘mjw006’ Wakeman, having a kid is about picking his battles in poker wisely and, at the same time, living the life of what he jokingly calls a “glorified housewife.”
“He’s the best, and sometimes he’s the worst. It’s funny because there’s no structure to what he likes to do. It’s innocent really, so whatever is fun for him at any point in time is what he wants to do,” Wakeman said of his six-year-old son. “He is pretty into video games like Minecraft and Skylanders, loves running around aimlessly outside, and surprisingly but thankfully loves going to school.”
His kid is not adept at poker… yet. But, he does enjoy watching his dad play and occasionally gives advice. Wakeman’s career choice also allows him to work his schedule around so he can spend more time with his family than he might have with a regular 9-5.
“Playing poker has made my life so much easier being a full-time dad, as my wife is very career-focused and has had a very full-on job over the past three or four years,” Wakeman said. “I’m sure I’ve been able to spend way more time with him in these early years than most people get to spend with their children, so that’s a really nice perk of playing a lot of online poker.”
“It’s obviously a really different lifestyle compared to a lot of working families who need to use childcare or something like that,” said Wakeman. “Having the flexibility of me playing poker is really nice.”
The Aussie final tabled the partypoker High Roller last Monday, four days after taking down a Mountain Series event on PokerStars. As a result, he’s up to $5.7 million in career online tournament winnings, one of just 47 players to achieve that milestone.
And it’s a good thing he’s cashing time and again.
“Kids aren’t cheap, but I’ve never really felt stress poker-wise since my wife has a job where she earns enough to support the whole family,” said Wakeman. “Overall, I see my role in the household to be a good dad and a good husband, to support her career, to support his learning, and to make sure he is happy and comfortable in life.”
“I’m basically a glorified housewife at the end of the day; my wife is the breadwinner,” he jokingly said. “It doesn’t bother me really since my wife and I have our roles in the household and we’re both more than comfortable with the situation.”
Wakeman is the top-ranked online poker player in Australia and the 15th-ranked online poker player in the world. He has over 5,600 in the money scores, 422 top-three finishes, and almost $4 million in winnings on PokerStars alone. He also has $164,000 in career live cashes, according to the Hendon Mob.
Wakeman’s volume has declined over the years, but it’s not for the reasons you might think. The decline in volume is more about wanting to playing fewer tables than anything dad-wise.
“It’s mostly because the games have gotten a lot tougher and there’s a lot less you can autopilot these days in high-stakes MTTs,” he said. Consequently, he focuses more intently on fewer tables.
Having a child also has its perks, as kids are the ultimate distraction. They’re seemingly always happy, curious, and energetic, potentially the perfect cure for a rough day at the poker tables. Unless they’re melting down.
“He helps when I’ve had a bad day to be able to be completely distracted,” said Wakeman. “He always makes me realize there’s more to life than just poker. Any time I’m stressed, it’s more likely to be about life things and my lack of organization than it is to be about poker or finances. If I am ever stressed about poker, it’s almost always a decision-based stress where I don’t think I’m playing well or making too many mistakes or something like that as opposed to being worried about losing money or something.”
More of his earnings in recent months have come on partypoker and 888, two sites he has begun playing at more often. However, most of his volume remains on PokerStars. In fact, all four of his largest career scores came on PokerStars, the largest of which was nearly $100,000 and came via a win in the Super Tuesday in 2013. His largest cash in 2016 so far is a win in the PokerStars Sunday 500 for a healthy $57,000.