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AMA with Tournament Director MATT SAVAGE

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  1. #1

    Default AMA with Tournament Director MATT SAVAGE


    Matt Savage is a poker executive and one of the most sought after tournament directors. He has recently accepted the job of Executive Tour Director of the FOX - televised World Poker Tour. Matt’s directing experience includes the World Series of Poker in 2002-2004, being a part of its growth into a mega-event it has become. Lately, Matt Savage has been heavily involved with the Poker Tournament Directors Association (TDA), which he founded to standardize the rules of live poker tournaments and has been instrumental in promoting their unification worldwide since. He will be attending a TDA summit on June 26-27 in Las Vegas.

    Matt has also appeared on the circuit as a player, making one final table at WSOP 2009, $1,500 Seven Card Stud Hi-Low 8 or Better event and finishing 5th.

    Now, FlopTurnRiver gives you the unique opportunity of asking Matt whatever you want! Just leave them in a reply to this post.

    Mr. Savage will answer all of them on June, 30th starting at 7pm ET. Therefore, you have until that day to post questions.

    3...2...1... BEGIN !!
    Last edited by mrickett; 06-05-2013 at 09:01 PM.
    Pablo Paglayan - Argentina
  2. #2
    mrickett's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Ishpeming, Michigan.
    It's a pleasure to have you join us for a chat, Matt! I think this is the first time we've had someone so heavily involved in the 'behind the scenes' aspect of live tournament poker join us so I'm really excited to see what you have to share with us.

    How did you fall into your role as a tournament director? I don't know much about your background but I know a lot of people in business tend to have a knack for seeing trends in the market before something big happens - did you have any idea poker was going to blow up so big and so fast, or were you just as surprised as the rest of us?

    Thanks again for joining us!
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  3. #3
    Hi Matt ...really nice to see you in a AMA

    Having "tasted" both sides of the poker tournament...which do you prefer: the thrill of the poker player or the emotion of behind the scenes organization?

    Being a poker executive, how many hours of your day poker requires from you?

    Best vacations you had without poker?
    Pre-Flop ou Post Flop...o importante é estar dentro de jogo
  4. #4
    When did you first started to get interested in the poker "behind the scenes" universe?

    Fox, Simpsons and this a deadly combination?
  5. #5
    Can you state the main differences from being a WSOP Tournament Director and a WPT executive Tournament Director?

    What do you think about a reality show about poker players and their lifes in tournament? (if the idea is good don't forget the royalties...ihihihi)

    Favorite movie of all times?
  6. #6
    Are the changes to live tournaments that will be discussed at this month's summit applicable to all tournaments or just high profile ones?

    How invasive will the upcoming changes be if they are agreed upon?

    What specific changes are going to be made and how will they be implemented? How long will it be before the changes are adopted by casinos?

    Will these changes/rules apply to casinos in-and-outside of the US or just US-based casinos?

    What are the potential consequences for a facility that refuses to abide by the rules?
  7. #7
    Hi Matt,
    -Obviously it must be a very intense job! how many hours do you work per week?
    -What do you enjoy most about your work?
    -What is your favourite aspect of the poker world?
    -What is your least favourite aspect of poker?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Nowhere in Particular
    For the directors to make a change to tournament rules, does the PTDA vote have to be unanimous or just a majority vote?

    Are directors hand picked by the PTDA or do they get to join as a function of their job titles and/or experience?

    Has anyone ever been refused membership by the PTDA? If so, why?

    Has anyone ever been ousted by the group? If so, why?

    Is the PTDA kinda like the SEC in that it acts like a governing body as opposed to a legal enforcer?
  9. #9
    What inspired you to found the PTDA in the first place?

    Is being the current Executive Tour Director of the World Poker Tour and founder of the PTDA a conflict of interest?

    Do you ever play in tournaments you've arranged?
  10. #10
    How to you maintain a work/life balance? Is it hard to manage family affairs given the sort of work you do?
  11. #11
    Hi Matt, welcome to the forum

    Any crazy stories about stuff you've had to do as TD?

    Are there many big differences between WSOP and WPT?

    Do you think it will ever be possible to standardise all poker rules across all tours or will individual TDs want to stick with their own opinions "because they can"?
  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    How patient do you have to be with some of the Egos that exist in poker?

    What has been the most difficult decision that you have encountered as a tournament director in an event?

    How much should we tip a dealer? Could you give us some guidelines?
  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    North Carolina, USA
    As far tipping, here is some more. How do tournaments incorporate tipping the dealer? Cash games are obviously different: chips is your money, do whatever you want. But in tournaments, the prize fund is determined when all entries are in and, essentially, the TDs will have to convert dealer tips to cash out of their own pockets? Also, as blinds rise and smaller denominations are removed, the tips will rise too?

  14. #14
    Nickione's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Ciudad de Buenos Aires
    Welcome Matt!
    I want to know
    if all the sites softwares
    are the same.
    I think not.
    What is your visión?
    Thanks very much.
  15. #15
    A few more questions popped-up in my mind...

    - What is your favorite Simpsons character and why?

    - Best poker moment in your life so far?

  16. #16
    Can I post a few more? :P Just curious...

    - Can you describe in 3 words the thrill from the "behind the scenes" universe?

    - Could you live without poker? or at least have a biiiiiig vacation away from poker?

    - With such a busy you have time for any hobbies? If so, can you mention a few?
  17. #17
    We have less than a week before this event starts.
  18. #18
    Couple of extra questions:

    What's your favourite TV series?

    What's your favourite film?
  19. #19
    Would you say you're a huge or enormous fan of Game of Thrones?
  20. #20
    This event starts in less than 3 days.
  21. #21
    How much do you like this job and how you get the opportunity to be World Poker Tour Executive Tournament Director?
  22. #22
    If you weren't involved in the poker industry, what would you be doing professinally?

    If your child grows up and wants to be a professional poker player, will you support that decision? Will your wife?

    Do you feel that working behind-the-scenes has given you any advantage over your opponents when you participate in tournaments and/or cash games?
  23. #23
    Did you play in any WSOP events this year? If so, which ones? How did you do in them?

    Have you ever played in the Main Event? If so, what year? How did you finish?
  24. #24
    Where did you go to college? What did you major in? Did your degree give you any advantages during the course of your career? How important/relevant do you think a college education is in today's job market and, more specifically, the poker industry?
  25. #25
    Are any changes planned for how the WPT is broadcast now that you've assumed your new position?

    Will anything that was discussed in this week's summit impact the WPT? If so, what specifically?
  26. #26
    How did you learn to play poker?

    How did you first get into poker?

    Who is your favorite player to watch today (male and female)?
  27. #27
    When did you realize that people could actually make some money with this game? When did you realize you could make a good living in poker?
  28. #28
    What’s the biggest prop bet you’ve ever made and did you win it?

    What games still offer good players the biggest edge in bigger live tournaments like the WSOP?

    What are your thoughts about PokerStars and what impact it will have on the online game?

    When stars talk about the "biggest" games, to what limits are they generally referring in your opinion?

    Other than "play, play, play", what advice would you give someone hoping to become a great player? Any recommended reading?

    Who would make your Hall of Fame table?
  29. #29
    Less than 12 hours to go until this event starts!
  30. #30
    Less than 6 hours to go until this event starts!
  31. #31
    What do you consider to be the most challenging annual tournament and why?

    What tournament have you never been involved with arranging that you'd like to be in the future? What is the attraction of this particular event?
  32. #32
    If you could have a super power, what one would you have?

    What is your stance on gay marriage? What about gun control?

    What are some of the things on your bucket list?

    What is the destination you'd most like to visit that you haven't been to yet?

    Where is your favorite place to play cards? Host tournaments? What are your least favorite venues?

    What is the most challenging thing involved with what you do?

    How do you successfully manage the many different personality types you work with?
  33. #33
    Some GREAT questions and some that I am not used to getting for sure. If you have a Twitter account I can be reached @SavagePoker.

    Just came out of a pretty intense 2 days at the Tournament Directors Association (TDA) Summit and a few new things developed.

    Looking forward to this, it looks like fun!
  34. #34
    mrickett's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Ishpeming, Michigan.
    I find it interesting that while the threat of an electronic communication scandal at the poker table is almost inevitable, players simply don't want to give up their phones. What must be done to educate players about this problem so they understand that the threat is there and real? Will it take an actual scandal happening for people to understand?

    It's clear that you would like the Poker TDA to be more or less the central authority on tournament rules worldwide. Is it frustrating for you when other organizations adopt a lot of the same rules but maintain their own authority over those rules?

    On a lighter note, how was the Beyonce concert last night?
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  35. #35
    Hi Matt, thanks for taking the time to stop by!

    Recently Sheldon Adelson made some incendiary remarks regarding his stance against online gambling and online poker. Online poker players were talking about boycotting the Venetian poker room as a result. What's your opinion on online gambling? Do you feel online poker helped or hurt live poker tournaments? And what about post Black Friday, did the crackdown on online poker in the US have any effect on live tournaments?

    At a tournament that you are directing, who do you want to see - or dread to see (Hellmuth?) - sitting at your final table?

    Thanks Matt!
  36. #36
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    North Carolina, USA
    Is there anything that you can tell us from your abundant behind-the-scenes experiences that we otherwise would have no way of knowing but are dying to know?
  37. #37
    - Care to share with us your best story? It doesn't have to be poker related.

    - What was the most difficult ruling you had to make as a TD?

    - As a TD, do you feel there are any rules you would like to be changed, or removed, or perhaps even more strictly enforced?

    Thanks for the AMA!
  38. #38
    mrickett's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Ishpeming, Michigan.
    What's the most interesting new development from the TDA Summit this weekend in your opinion?

    When an issue has a lot of gray area between both sides of a ruling does it generally make more sense to leave it up to the TD's discretion on how to handle it?

    I've been watching your tweets this weekend as well as some of the live stream from the Summit.. I'm really impressed with how you communicate with fellow tournament directors and invite open discussion on each of the rules your organization proposes. TDs are definitely given plenty of opportunity to air their disagreements. Great work you guys are doing!
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  39. #39
    Eric's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    California, USA
    How do you call a clock on someone without looking bad? My local tournaments have 20 minute levels but some of the players think it is ok to take as much time as players do in tournaments with much longer levels.
  40. #40
    Here we go, thank you for your participation
  41. #41
    mrickett's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Ishpeming, Michigan.
    A warm welcome and big thanks to Matt Savage for joining us on today! Matt will begin answering all our questions shortly. If any of you have last minute questions for Matt regarding anything Poker, or his Poker TDA in particular, now is your chance!

    Thank you, Matt!
    Join our Events Mail group and never forget about an upcoming FTR event again!

  42. #42
    Quote Originally Posted by mrickett View Post
    It's a pleasure to have you join us for a chat, Matt! I think this is the first time we've had someone so heavily involved in the 'behind the scenes' aspect of live tournament poker join us so I'm really excited to see what you have to share with us.

    How did you fall into your role as a tournament director? I don't know much about your background but I know a lot of people in business tend to have a knack for seeing trends in the market before something big happens - did you have any idea poker was going to blow up so big and so fast, or were you just as surprised as the rest of us?

    Thanks again for joining us!
    I was lucky, I was a poker dealer at Bay 101 and I loved doing my job, so much so that I developed carpal tunnel and was forced to quit or go on the floor. I chose to go on the floor and ended up filling in for the tournament job when the regular TD went on vacation. I loved it and when the new casino opened up 35 miles north "Lucky Chances" i took the full time tournament job.
  43. #43
    I prefer to be the Tournament Director-I'm far better at it than being a poker player. I have said it very often-that I have a ton of respect for the poker players. I don't know how they can handle the bad beats day in and day out.

    Too many hours. Between emails, phone calls, text messages, Twitter, Facebook, and the forums, I am working most of my awake hours during the day. That does NOT include when I'm running tournaments. I am lucky to have a great wife and family that supports what I do.

    Best vacations are generally my annually done golf tournaments-such as my 18th one, which I did in Scottsdale, AZ. I do enjoy traveling in Europe, and I would consider my trip to Rome as one of my favorites.
  44. #44
    As a player, when I saw that the rules were implemented differently from casino to casino, I really thought I could make a difference in the industry by standardizing tournament rules. That was the start of the TDA.
  45. #45
    Running the WSOP was truly one of the highlights of my career. I enjoyed the intense long hours and tradition that the WSOP and Binion's Horseshoe had. The poker world has changed so much. I am fortunate to hold the job as the WPT Executive Tour Director, as it has given me the opportunity to see the world and interact with the world's greatest players and work with the properties to develop great relationships. When my career is over, I will remember all the great people that I have met in this industry.

    I think a poker reality show would be both good and bad. It would definitely show both sides of the industry.

    My favorite movie is Shawshank Redemption. My favorite poker movie is Lucky you. (Of course. )
  46. #46
    They are applicable to all tournaments. When creating the rules, I always have the two and three table card rooms in my thoughts, knowing that even if it's a ten dollar daily tournament or a million dollar buy-in, they can all use TDA rules.

    I don't feel that the new rules will be invasive at all, as the goal of the TDA is to make things easier and more consistent, for both players and tournament staff alike.

    There are a few. The new TDA rules will be coming out on the 15th. One of my favorite new rules discusses "player responsibilities". With the inclusion of Neil Johnson from the GPTL and Jack Effel from the WSOP. For the first time in history, the WSOP, WPT, and GPTL will work together to create standard rules, which I believe is a huge benefit to the players. I fully intend to use these rules at the upcoming Seminole Hard Rock Tournament in August.

    The changes will be used at casinos all over the world.

    There are no consequences except for the backlash from the players that don't understand why they are not using an international standard for their rules.
  47. #47
    I would say that I work about 80 hours a week, up to a hundred hours a week when running a major tournament series. Like the LAPC, or the Bay101 Shooting Star.

    I enjoy the traveling and the people that I've met and worked with.

    The people, the players, and the excitement of making the Final Table.

    My least favorite aspect is seeing some of the scandals that have taken place, and how people have reacted to those scandals.
  48. #48
    Everyone in attendance gets a vote. We look for a majority of over 80%, and if the remaining 20% can live with the rule, we will then implement it. If there is something where the decision is split, it will not become a TDA rule.

    Job title and experience are important, but there are many new tournament directors in attendance, who are trying to learn from the best in the industry, and we welcome all of them.

    No one is refused membership as long as they agree to use TDA rules in their properties.

    No one has ever been ousted.

    I would say the TDA is a governing body even though we've never been paid for our work and efforts.
  49. #49
    I founded the TDA because in the few tournaments I was playing in the Bay area, the rules were different in each place I went. I knew this issue had to be addressed and immediately changed in order for the industry to move forward.

    There is no conflict in interest, because wherever I run the tournaments, they use the current TDA rules.

    Very rarely do I play in tournaments I arranged, because I feel that would be a conflict of interest. I have played in a few charity events I have hosted in the past.
  50. #50
    It's not easy. I am lucky to have my beautiful, amazing wife Maryann, and my two great kids supporting me in all that I do. There have been some tough times, but my family still gives me their support, and I try to do the same for them as much as possible.
  51. #51
    mrickett's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Ishpeming, Michigan.
    Is it difficult sometimes putting so much time and effort into something that you aren't being paid to do?
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  52. #52
    There's always crazy things going on around the poker tournaments. Most of them I cannot mention here. But hosting player parties comes to mind. Most markedly, those for the Asian Poker Tour. Luckily, my wife travels with me and keeps me out of trouble.

    I would say the biggest differences between the WPT and the WSOP are the styles, and the WPT's are mainly held in various 'destinations' while the WSOP is a daily grind for bracelets. I loved working for the WSOP, but feel that the WPT is a better player-oriented experience.

    We've come very close this year with standardizing the rules, with the inclusion of the WSOP, WPT, and GPTL following the same rules. For the most part, it has become a success in making this happen.
  53. #53
    Very. Patience is absolutely essential in job. Ego is a part of poker. I think I have handled that part of it very well. How else can I run a tournament with Phil Hellmuth, Daniel Negreneau, and Phil Ivey all in one place?

    In the 2002 WSOP I made a very difficult ruling on day 4 of 5, based on verbal declaration in turn being binding vs. Russell Rosenbloom-who said 'fold' as he was away from the table, but it was his turn to act. A decision that nearly eliminated him from the tournament. To his credit, he came back, and still made the final table that year.

    Most Tournaments these days take a percentage out of the prize pool. I have always felt that tipping should be based on service. So if you feel that you've been well taken care of by the dealers and staff, usually adding 1 or 2% on top of the tip they withhold is considered very generous.
  54. #54
    Tipping of the percentage withheld, the dealers usually receive two-thirds of that money divided by the number of downs that they've dealt. Obviously the bigger buy-ins have the deeper structures and require more dealer downs.
  55. #55
    Hey Matt, you mentioned your wife travels with you when you're on the road. Do your children travel with you too? How do you balance that?
  56. #56
    No, the software is definitely not the same. But more importantly, some sites have better customer support-which I think is an even more important issue.
  57. #57
    Homer. He makes me seem more intelligent.

    Besides meeting my wife in 2002 at the WSOP, I would say the moment when Chris Moneymaker won in 2003 was truly the highlight of my career.
  58. #58
    Hey Matt, love your work with the TDA and poker tournament rules. I have a couple questions:

    1) Obviously having universal tournament rules are important for poker tournaments since it makes it simpler and easier for players to understand what they can and can not do. However, many pros complain that several of the rules are too limiting. Do you think there's a need for a split set of rules for events loaded with amateurs ie the Wsop main event and events with almost exclusively professionals ie the Players Championship or a high roller?

    2) What rule would you like to change or implement that your peers do not?
  59. #59
    Each day's exciting.

    Yes, but with technology these days, you're never really too far away.

    My two passions outside of poker are playing golf and watching the San José Sharks on the Power Play
  60. #60
    I liked Game of Thrones up until the dragons were born.
    Last edited by MattSavage; 06-30-2013 at 08:55 PM.
  61. #61
    Don't really have a TV series, as I never seem to have enough time to get really involved

    Shawshank redemption. However, my favorite Poker movie is Lucky You. Please go out and rent it today!
  62. #62
    I love my job. Being involved in every part of the tour-including the interviews-has been a lot of fun.
  63. #63
    If it wasnt for the poker industry, Im sure I would be in some sort of service industry, as I really enjoy working with people.

    I will support my son in anything he wants to do, as long as he can financially support himself, and be happy doing so. It might be a little more difficult for my wife.

    Nope. Although, probably no one has seen more live hands than me, I still feel I have a lot to learn about the game, and consider myself as a bad player.
  64. #64
    Yes. two events-1500 Omaha 8 or better, in which I finished very early on day one, and the 1500 stunt 8 or better, in which I finished 22nd out of 558 players for $57,023. So 50% in the money isn't that bad.

    Yes. I've played the last four years, made day 3 twice, day 4 once, but still yet to cash.
  65. #65
    Glad to be online at the same time this event is going on.... couple of questions

    --> You said Patience is absolutely essential in job...were you already a patient person before the job or did poker brought out the patience in you?

    --> Do you think golf and poker have some similarities?...psychologically speaking...
  66. #66
    I only went for a short time to college. Most of my experience comes from working every month since the age of 14. I feel education is fairly important in anything, but I feel my work and effort in my career has paid off.
  67. #67
    I'd say yes. I look for Season 12 on the WPT to be the most exciting yet so far. We are constantly revamping the show to keep it fresh and exciting. I also think my interview skills have improved greatly over the last three seasons. They needed to-otherwise Id have been fired from the job long ago.
  68. #68
    I feel the new TDA rules will impact our European market quite a bit because some of the rules have changed in the best interest of standardization, so that the players know what to expect.
  69. #69
    I learned to play poker like many other people did-on the kitchen table, playing with relatives at the family gatherings.

    I first got into poker by losing all my money playing 2-4 and 3-6 High-low hold 'em.

    I always enjoy watching Phil Ivey play-because you never know what he's going to do in a hand.

    I would have to say Vanessa Selbst. She is not only one of the best women players, but one of the best players period. She will top the women's all-time money list in the very near future.
  70. #70
    I know many winning poker players. Most of them play both cash and tournament poker, and know the level of game in which they are going to succeed, and they stick to it.
  71. #71
    $4,000 on a weight bet. I lost by half a pound when I did not go to the sauna, because I thought I had won already.

    I would say the mix games, as many players only play those games once a year during the WSOP.

    PokerStars is a great company that has done a lot for the poker industry. I hope that they have continued success and that they can one day return to the US.

    Definitely having patience is important, and never getting too high or too low. I would suggest reading the Herrington books, as they are very good, and will change your game.

    -Phil Ivey
    -Phil Hellmuth
    -Doyle Brunson
    -Chip Reese
    -Stu Unger
    -Antonio Esfandiari
    -Erik Seidel
    -Annie Duke/Daniel Negreaneu sharing a seat
  72. #72
    The most challenging event for me is the LA Poker Classic. It is 68 events over 45 days.

    I would say I would like some sort of event in Canada, as I admire their extreme passion for poker.
  73. #73
    The ability to shut down all cell phones for one week.

    I would say I am for personal choice and freedom.

    I'd like to go to Spain and Brazil. I have not been given the chance to go to either place yet.

    Bay101 Casino in San José is my favorite place to play cards and host tournaments, as San José is my hometown.

    Any venue that allows smoking is my least favorite.

    Abusive players toward other players and dealers. I have no tolerance towards them.

    I believe listening to the players has helped a lot in my career. It has helped me fully realize that the players have issues and needs like anyone else, and that sometimes they just want to have someone listen to their bad beat stories.
  74. #74
    Cell phones I believe are here to stay, and while I feel that that is the case, I think there will become a point where safeguards will need to be in place for the protection of the players.

    I believe that the TDA is the authority for central rules when it comes to tournament poker already. Other organizations have come in, but their goals are always to make profit, whereas the TDA has done everything as a volunteer organization. I believe that is the only way it can be done fairly, and with integrity.

    The concert was great. My wife and daughter had a great time.
  75. #75
    I would say online poker is an important facet of the great game of poker. It is very important for the sustainability of the game, and I hope online poker becomes legal in the US as soon as possible. I definitely feel that it has helped live poker tournaments. and definitely, far less people were able to win online satellites to tournaments, and with player funds locked up, poker faced some difficult times, but I think it has rebounded quite nicely.

    It's the same answer for both: Allen Kessler.

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