Poker Player Matt Matros Tops Political Pundits In Presidential Election Predictions



Perhaps demonstrating that poker players are adept in other arenas, professional poker player Matt Matros came out on top in a poll by a top American newspaper regarding last week’s Presidential elections.

The Washington Post recently ran its 16th Annual Crystal Ball contest, pitting eleven political pundits against Matros and a 12th grade government class from Langley High School in Virginia. Some of the other players in the game were political hounds such as Fox NewsJuan Williams, the Post’s horse racing handicapper Andrew Beyer (notable for his Beyer Speed Index for rating horses), CNBC financial advisor Jim Cramer and PBS “NewsHour” political editor Christina Bellantoni. Over the span of the contest, Matros was able to outfox the political pundits and take the crown in the “Crystal Ball” competition.

The contest run by the Post eliminated contestants who made incorrect predictions, such as the Democrats taking over the House of Representatives, off the bat. Then it reviewed seven key areas the contestants predicted, such as the battle between President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, and eliminated a few more. Beyer and Leslie Sanchez, a former advisor to President Bush, were eliminated in this manner when they predicted a Romney victory.

Matros took down the Crystal Ball with his prediction on the outcome of the Presidential race. Predicting that President Obama would earn a second term by taking 303 electoral votes, he was able to eclipse Bellantoni and National Journal editor Reid Wilson, who followed him in the tabulations. The founder of Reddit.com, Alexis Ohanian, actually came closer than Matros with his prediction of 314 for President Obama’s electoral college count (Obama earned 332), but he had already been eliminated by his opinion of the Democrats regaining control of the House.

So what was the secret to Matros’ election wizardry? “I did try to push my picks a little towards the Democrats because I thought specifically that Obama would pick up the undecided voters closer to the election,” Matros said to the Post. “I generally remembered that people will ‘go with the devil they know’ and never seriously considered that there would be a shift towards Mitt Romney that would give him the Electoral College.”

Matros’ prognostications were backed by the New York TimesNate Silver, who operates the website FiveThirtyEight.com and accurately predicted both the 2008 and 2012 Presidential outcomes. Although he used advanced mathematics to make his observations, Silver (a former gambler) discounted the notion that many media outlets had on the election, as did Matros. “Those people couldn’t conceive of anything but the idea of the race being 50/50 or a lock for one guy or the other,” Matros is quoted by the Post. “Those of us who deal with probabilities for a living know how silly that is.”

Despite his overwhelming win in the Post’s Crystal Ball contest, Matros is remaining humble in his opinions. “I accept this victory on behalf of all the bettors out there who make educated guesses for a living,” he said. Matros also doesn’t believe that he has a future in the political prognostication arena. “I’m not an expert at politics, I’m an expert at betting,” Matros commented to the Post. “That’s far more important.”

Matros has been able to make quite the poker career using his wits and knowledge. He is one of a few players who have been able to capture three World Series of Poker bracelets in three consecutive years (2010-12), but arguably his best performance came in 2004, when Matros finished in third place in the World Poker Tour Championship behind eventual winner Martin de Knijff and runner up Hasan Habib. Over the span of his career, Matros has earned over $2.3 million, quite a bit more than he might make as a political pundit!

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