Matt Roth: A Black Friday Tragedy



The poker community was shocked to find out last Tuesday that poker player Matt Roth had died by apparent suicide. Matt, who played online under the screen names “notnmyhouse” (Full Tilt Poker) and “mattroth” (PokerStars), was extremely well liked by people who knew him and had made a comfortable living playing poker online prior to Black Friday.

Black Friday, according to friends and family, was what started a downward spiral for Matt, one in which he struggled to find direction and ambition in life. “The federal government two years ago shut down his site, took his money, and with that — they didn’t know it — but they took my son,” Matt’s father, Bill Roth, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “They took his livelihood, self-esteem, drive. They took his focus.”

A friend of Matt’s from his hometown of Fairbanks, Alaska, posted on Two Plus Two under the screen name “Wgiv” that the signs of depression were obvious:

Matt was never really the same after BF. Fairbanks is a small town where everyone knows everyone and news travels quick. When he came back to town everyone knew. Every old friend he saw would ask him about it, about the actual number he lost. He was constantly reminded. He went from such a great poker player and lively person to showing up late, hardly speaking to anyone and falling asleep at the table this winter. A Fairbanks winter is hard on anyone, and I’m sure that didn’t help with his depression.

“I guarantee if Black Friday never happened Matt would still be alive,” he added.

Another friend, the one who broke the news to the poker community on Two Plus Two, said of Matt, “He loved this game, he loved the competition, he loved the challenges, he loved the ups and understood the downs.”

“I tried contacting Matt several times over the past year and when I could get him on the phone he was different, short and unenthusiastic. Much different from the Matt I knew. The Matt I knew was fun, energetic and always strived to be the best at whatever he did.”

According to the report in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Matt was sitting in his car in the parking lot of the Wild Wild West Gambling Hall in Las Vegas at approximately 9:30am on Tuesday, April 23rd when he shot himself in the head. He took the gun from a friend. “Wgiv” said that Matt was not playing poker at the Wild Wild West the previous night, but rather visiting a friend from Fairbanks. It is unknown if the gun was taken from that friend.

Bill Roth told the Review-Journal that his son made no effort to hide his depression. Normally in great physical condition, he stopped working out and taking care of his appearance. He rarely visited his family after Black Friday. His entire family tried to give him the support he needed and he was seeing a doctor, but it was not enough.

“He was in and out of our lives, trying to redirect his life, but he couldn’t,” his father said.

Matt was apparently still doing alright financially even after losing a lot of money on Black Friday, but as Bill Roth put it, “Money doesn’t buy happiness. It doesn’t. Happiness comes from within.”

Matt did try to continue his online poker career in Canada, but the mental damage had already been done.

“The next time we see a homeless person sitting on the street, know that there’s not one event that made them get there,” said his father. “It’s a series of events. We need to have more compassion.”

“He was just a great poker player.”

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