Mathew Hilger is the latest poker player from nowhere that is making a storied run at the WSOP main event title. This 37-year-old two-year poker pro from Duluth Minnesota is on track for the biggest poker win of his life. Since he made the last 50 players he has guaranteed a win of at least $45,000. He is a graduate of the University of Georgia. His previous occupation was as a financial consultant.
The best part of this story is how he got to play in this WSOP event. He paid $150 buy-in to play in a satellite tournament and won it. The prize was $10,000 entry fee to the WSOP plus $2,000 for expenses. So his vary small investment has already paid off His journey so far has seen him outlast the starting field of 2,576 as it got whittled down to just 50 survivors. Asked how he felt about his play, he said he was thrilled to have gotten this far and was excited about the possibility of making the final table and the chance at the $5 million grand prize.
Mathew is another one of those players that got their experience playing online. He started playing online in 2001. His playing skill and experience are from the Internet play. His stated goal is to now play against the best and see how he stacks up against them His story is similar to that of Chris Moneymaker in that Chris got into his winning WSOP off of a satellite buy-in of only $40. He would like to see his story play out like Chris's, as Chris went on to win $2.5 million.
The final 50 that are left in this tournament include some real poker stars such as Doyle Brunson and Chris "Jesus" Ferguson. Guess a person should be careful what they wish for as it may come to pass.
In his prior tournament experience he did win the New Zealand Championship in 2002, so it can be assumed that he knows how to play at a fairly high level. He has written a book on Internet Texas Holdem and also has his own poker website. That is not the typical unknown player that shows up each year at the WSOP.
The WSOP main event is a NL Holdem tournament that is played every day from noon until 1:30 in the morning until a final table of players is established. The buy-in for this tournament is $10,000, so you can see what happens when the player count increases the way it has every year since its inception. This single tournament is the top of the mountain and draws players from all over the world. Just getting into the money these days is a feat and making the final table is an accomplishment no matter who you are and how good you seem to be.
The fact that Mathew has gotten into the tournament as far as he has is no mean feat. No wonder his father came in to see him play. Mathew acknowledges that that tension of the play has affected his sleep and his energy level. The misplay of one hand can be the end of his tournament and he knows it. That makes every hand a potential time bomb or a key to a worry free life as far as money goes. Other unknowns have done what he is trying to do and the skill and luck must stay on his side to make it a lot further. Every player that gets this far hopes that the cards will break their way and that they do not misread another player's hand.