Matthew Davis understands how to play his hand cautiously.
Known for his patient play at the poker table, Davis takes the same methodical approach in life. The part-time poker professional has spent years biding his time and building his bankroll. Now, like a scene out of the movie “Rounders,” the 2008 Gibraltar Carlson graduate is ready to go all-in.
Following successful runs in last year’s Mid-States Poker Tour and this summer’s World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, Davis is making the move to become a full-time card shark.
“Since I first started playing poker, I dreamed of being able to play professionally and do that as a full-time thing,” Davis said. “But I wanted to make sure I could do it right. I’ve seen a lot of people over the years try and fail.”
That’s exactly what happens to Matt Damon’s character at the start of the 1998 movie “Rounders.” The character eventually learns from his hubris and gets back to the hustle by the movie’s end, but Davis hopes to avoid a similar fall and has taken the steps to protect himself.
That includes a sizeable bankroll specifically for poker and a separate nest egg built through investments and side hustles that serves as a safety net. Davis has owned his own Allstate Insurance agency since 2018. Being his own boss gave him the freedom to focus more on poker. He is in the process of selling that business this September.
Davis also owns properties that he rents out for additional income and he has his own channel on Twitch.tv where he streams his online poker exploits to a growing audience.
“I’ve always taken the conservative and responsible route and made sure I had my sources of income to be able to pay bills and take care of things,” Davis said. “Now I’m finally in a position where I’m comfortable and I feel like I can do it without having to worry about going bust and having to go back to work.”
Recent success on the felt has helped Davis make the transition.
Davis won $282,015 following a deep run in a large online tournament at Americas Cardroom in May 2021. He topped that score this past October when he took first place in the MSPT Michigan State Poker Championship at FireKeepers Casino in Battle Creek. He bested a record-setting field of 2,409 players in the $1,100 buy-in Main Event.
Davis had to navigate the two-event with a short stack on multiple occasions. He started Day 2 near the bottom of the leaderboard but doubled his chips on the second hand after going all in with ace-jack and winning against a pair of 9s. That hand helped Davis make it past the money bubble and he took over the chip lead with 35 players remaining.
A massive loss with 16 players to go cost Davis over half his chips. He started the hand with a pair of kings and called an all-in raise pre-flop from an opponent with king-queen. The flop came down jack-10-nine to give his opponent a straight.
“I just grinded with a short stack from there, but I ended up making the final table,” he said. “I ended up knocking out my friend in fifth place and from there I actually knocked out every single player to win the tournament.”
With a total prize pool of $2,335,230, Davis took home $344,446 along with the title. The win was his first major live tournament victory.
“It was a really incredible experience,” Davis said. “I’ve always really believed in myself. I always knew I had the ability to do it. … To win the tournament was a huge confidence booster for me and it was kind of a relief.”
Davis’ success carried over into the World Series of Poker this summer, which was held May 30-July 18 at the Horseshoe Las Vegas and Paris Las Vegas. He cashed in four events, including a score of $24,898 after placing 54th in the $1,500 buy-in Millionaire Maker with 10,416 entrants. He also placed seventh for $28,624 in the WSOP $1,000 online event.
Those cashes alone made it a profitable summer for Davis who is no stranger to success at the WSOP. In 2019, he finished 76th out of 8,569 players in the prestigious $10,000 Main Event for a payday of $98,120.
“One of my goals is to win a World Series of Poker bracelet. It’s something I’ve gotten close a couple of times to doing,” he said. “I was really excited for the World Series this year. As a poker player, you can see your game evolve over the years. I’ve literally watched myself become more patient. Even compared to a year or two ago, I’ve seen the improvement. So I knew going into this Series I was ready to be there.
“It was a good summer for me. I’m definitely looking forward to next summer.”