The poker universe is vast, consisting of players, organisers, and a host of people, who collectively work towards the progress of the poker industry. However, we majorly see players being talked about and grabbing the limelight. Thanks to the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Poker Hall of Fame, everyone, including players, who significantly contribute to the game can have his/her name etched in history.
Earlier last month, WSOP announced a list of 10 nominees for this year’s Poker Hall of Fame. The list consists of well-known players, as well as others who deserve recognition for their contributions. In this article, we will talk about one such personality – Matt Savage.
Matt Savage was born and raised in San Jose in California. He was always a driven individual who wished to make a difference. He started working when he was just 14-years-old, as a porter in a 60-lane bowling centre. While working there, the teenage Savage started practising bowling and decided on becoming a professional bowler.
When his dreams of becoming a professional bowler began to fade, he randomly walked into a cardroom in California at the age of 21. He tried his hand at playing poker, however, he soon realised he wasn’t so good at it. He soon took up a job as a chip runner at Garden City Casino. He was quite motivated to boost his income and work more and hence learnt to deal cards in poker. He got a job at Bay 101 in 1994 as a poker dealer. However, he was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome, wherein his hands began to ache. He knew that his dealing days were limited.
While still working at Bay 101, Savage learnt everything about the game and the operations of a poker room. Once when the tournament director at the casino was out on a vacation, Savage stepped up and offered to take up the role. After working as a chip runner, dealer, floorman, and assistant tournament director, Savage now began to direct poker tournaments. He then took up a position as a TD at Lucky Chances Casino in 1998.
His mind was always on the lookout for finding ways to make the game better for players and ensure poker rooms run smoothly. Within just a couple of years, he noticed there was a serious problem in the poker tournament industry.
Poker tournaments across the world had different and inconsistent rules, thus creating confusion among players about what to expect from an event. In 2001, Savage travelled to WSOP with an aim of talking to other tournament directors and working together to form standardised rules. There he met other tournament directors and founded Tournament Directors Association (TDA) along with Linda Johnson, Jan Fisher and David Lamb. Today, the TDA has become the global standard for tournament rules and is effective in most major tournaments including the WSOP.
All the stats in this article are updated as of 7th July 2022!
Savage was hired as the tournament director at the World Series of Poker, the very next year. He held the position for three years until 2004 during which witnessed the poker boom in 2003. Post that he became the TD at the Commerce Casino in Los Angeles and Bay 101 in San Jose at the same time.
Savage then became the Executive Director of the World Poker Tour (WPT) in 2010. He continues to serve the role to this day. When he started his job at WPT, the series had a bad reputation due to its reported unresponsiveness to player feedback. But there was a relief since Savage was known to be a TD who was keen on getting player feedback. Savage was brought in to save WPT in a tricky situation.
Despite not being a professional poker player, Savage has multiple cashes at the WSOP. The first being his final table debut and a fifth-place finish in the $1,500 Seven Card Stud Hi-Low 8 or Better event at WSOP 2009 for $32,396, which is also his best live cash.
In 2003 he won the inaugural Benny Binion award for ‘outstanding service in the poker industry.’ Savage became the inaugural inductee into the Poker Room Manager’s Hall of Fame in the year 2003. Savage has been nominated into the WSOP Poker Hall of Fame multiple times, however, he is yet to be inducted.
To know if he makes it to the WSOP 2022 Poker Hall of Fame this year, stay tuned to Gutshot Magazine.
Amarylisa Gonsalves is a Content Writer at Gutshot Magazine. Advancing from a marketing background, she found her calling in writing. She takes delight in exploring genres and is a curious learner. Patient and ambivert, she believes in letting her work speak for itself. Apart from content writing, she finds solace in writing poetry by expressing herself through words. Additionally, she adores indulging in anything that satisfies her creative self, like drawing and DIY crafts.