Before the 2018 World Series of Poker began, Matthew Hunt, who has $1.6 million in online tournament earnings, had a live tournament resume which read more like that of an eighth-grade math teacher than of somebody who would be a threat to win a WSOP bracelet.
One previous WSOP cash, in the $565 buy-in Colossus in 2016, was the standout alongside some €20 – €100 buy-in events. Nothing that would have given any indication that he was about to have a breakout summer.
“(This summer) has been fantastic. I’ve played events here and there the last couple of summers. I’ve been here, but haven’t been able to play a full schedule,” said Hunt. “This year I’ve been going pretty hard at it, playing a lot of events and it’s been going pretty well so far. So I’m loving it.”
This summer he’s picked up seven cashes, three of them in WSOP events including a runner-up finish in a $1,000 buy-in No Limit Hold’em event. Being able to play more events this summer over year’s past is the result of some of the work he’s done with one of the top coaching groups around – as a coach.
“I’ve been doing a lot of work with the Solve For Why Academy guys lately. Through that, one of the things that came out of it was Matt Berkey and I talked about a staking arrangement for some WSOP events this summer,” said Hunt. “So Berkey and Nick Howard, who I’ve also been working with a lot, are taking a big piece of my action in a lot of these events and that’s enabled me to play a lot of stuff I wouldn’t otherwise have been able to play.”
Most players talk about their first WSOP final table with a bit of romanticism. Thanks to the 30-minute levels though, Hunt’s deep run was more like a one-night stand.
“It was going so fast that I didn’t even really have time to digest what was going on a lot of the time,” said Hunt. “At the final table itself, we went from six-handed to a winner in 13 hands. It was really fast and furious. Certainly looking back on it I can appreciate what a great experience it was, but when I was in the moment I just had to focus because there was always something going on.”
Once he had a minute to get over the fact that he was as close to a WSOP bracelet as you can possibly get without actually winning it, Hunt recognized that all the effort he’s put in over the last few years has started to show.
“It’s a lot of validation for all the hard work I’ve put in, definitely. I’ve felt for a long time that I have been really sort of banging on the door of asserting myself and making some big scores,” said Hunt. “But this summer I’m feeling more confident than I ever have in my game and I’m playing really well and thankfully the scores are coming in. So it’s definitely a big step forward for me in my career and I’m looking forward to riding this momentum as long as I can.”
Ever the grinder, Hunt woke up the day after that event and headed right back to the Rio to get back to work. Turns out that maybe a day off was in order.
“I was scheduled to play the Monster Stack that day so I just got up and went to play again and I’m not sure I played that great in the Monster Stack. I’m not sure if it was just tiredness or I wasn’t too focused or what, but it was strange,” said Hunt. “I kind of told myself I could get back on it and keep going and ride the momentum. Looking back on it I probably should have taken a day off.”
Hunt’s hope of turning some momentum into a deep Main Event run didn’t quite pan out. He busted Day 1A for the second consecutive year, but that doesn’t mean he’s done chasing a bracelet.
No matter how good a summer you’ve had, busting the Main Event stings. Taking a day or two to reboot, then back at it on Thursday.
— Matthew G. Hunt (@MGHpoker) July 3, 2018