Marty 'TheLipoFund' Mathis is one of poker's good guys. A slim, effervescent and happy go lucky grinder, Mathis is of those young 2+2'ers who, were it not for cruel fate, could be a lot better known than he is. At last year's PCA Mathis missed out on a top three stack in the late stages when he got it all-in with ace-king to the ace-queen of Calvin Anderson. The pot was chopped before Mathis went on to lose a chunky flip against Philippe Plouffe and then failed to catch with a twenty big blind raggedy ace three-bet shove into the runaway train of PCA runner-up Chris Oliver (who actually had a hand). Mathis was eliminated in 17th for $87,500, a great payday which came with a large pocketful of 'what ifs'. But he doesn't seem the sort to have let it kept him down for long.
A standout illustration of Mathis' demeanour comes to mind from the event where I first him, LAPT Lima. Mathis had bust in 42nd but he and Chris Conrad decided to hit up a Peruvian costume shop to dress up, somewhat inexplicably, in Winnie the Pooh and Tigger outfits to cheer their fellow American Ben Barrows on to his second place $144,000 finish. It was nice gesture of support, particularly from Conrad who had been brutally unlucky to bust with A Q to eventual winner Nacho Barbero's 8 4 in a huge four-bet pot the evening before, just outside the big money.
Although Mathis has modest career winnings in the live arena ($99,060) his online resume shows that he's scored over two million in online tourneys at PokerStars, so perhaps it's not a huge surprise that he was one of the first waves of players to up sticks from the US and start a new grinding life on foreign soil.
"We settled down in Cabo, Mexico (on the bottom tip of the Baha peninsular). I moved in July right after busting the World Series Main Event and was the first one down there, then my roommates came down and then friends, then friends of friends. There was sixty of us at one point, a colony of poker players," said Mathis.
"Everyone is super friendly and I felt safer walking round there at 3 in the morning than I do walking round Orlando where I lived before.... but it is tough to be away from everybody, friends and family," said Mathis, who added that one thing he won't miss about Mexico is the grocery stores.
"It's like they haven't restocked them in months. They wait until the run out of something before getting something new. Cabo is in a desert region so it can be tough getting fresh fruit and vegetables. It was really awesome but I'm done with Mexico for the time being," he said.
Although he enjoyed his six months living in Cabo, where there was good internet connection and a smooth transition in re-opening his PokerStars account, Mathis has decided he's going to spend the first half of 2012 travelling, playing the circuit along the way.
His first stop after the PCA is Australia (for some tournament or other) before heading direct from there to Sao Paulo, Brazil for the LAPT main event - a mere 31-hour flight.
Although we objective, stand-offish reporters don't pull for anyone - that's just unprofessional - we can admit there is a part of us that would be warmed by Mathis arriving in Melbourne with a PCA crown atop his head. He's a likeable guy. And he's more than shrugged off his beat of last year.
"That chop versus Calvin Anderson was the big key hand which would have set me up but, you know what, I'm trying to make another run this year," he said.
Mathis has got off to a good start, more than doubling his initial 30,000 starting stack despite being at a table with the aggressive EPT London final tablist Martins Adeniya, Lars Bonding and EPT Tallinn High Roller champ Kristijonas Andruli. Good luck to TheLipoFund.