On August 13, at the age of 33, one of the best poker players of his time passed away Matthew Marifioti (Matthew Marafioti), better known in the community as “ADZ124”. His 10-year poker career was full of not only big wins, but also difficult relationships with family and colleagues.
Poker is a hobby that became a profession through obsession
Born and raised in a wealthy family of workers in the Toronto medical industry, Matthew has shown himself to be an intelligent but hard-to-control child from an early age. He spent his senior classes in a Catholic school, where he did not show any interest in mathematics, but was very popular among his peers as a light and cheerful guy who is fond of football and Counter Strike. Dreaming of the future, Matt saw himself as a businessman running his own company and studied diligently until he became familiar with poker at the age of 17.
Having started playing online, Marafioti found in it many similarities to his favorite video game – a high pace, a competitive element, the ability to throw out gambling – but with one serious difference: poker brought real money. For the first (and most famous) nickname – “ADZ124” on PokerStars and “Adzizzy124” FullTiltPoker – Matt chose his little brother Adam’s nickname and random numbers.
After making his first deposit of $ 50, he played on it for 24 hours in a row and inflamed a serious passion for the game, sitting at the tables every day:
I started off badly – losing money over and over again. Of course, it was only a couple of hundred dollars, but I still could not stop – I started a real addiction.
At first, his parents were cool about his hobby, but when he began to steal credit cards from people in order to make another deposit, they blocked his access to poker sites through their home computers. According to him, the protection was so powerful that he could not even use search engines to find something through them using the word “poker”.
At the age of 18, Matt entered Queen’s University to study business, but without any restrictions from his parents, he began to grind again. As his university friends later recalled, Marafioti hardly left his dorm room, constantly playing poker, so they called his room “Gollum’s Cave.”
At the same time, he regularly borrowed to keep playing, and all the time worked to hone his skills and become invincible. And the work bore fruit: for the last borrowed $ 18, it spun up to $ 48K in a few months:
One of the best lessons in my life is that when you put your last money into the game, you have no right to lose it. I played for that $ 18 like crazy – I remember that one day a fire alarm went off in the hostel and everyone ran outside, but I stayed behind the monitor because I had a tournament.
Upstrick allowed him to pay off all his debts and spend $ 5.2K on the buy-in of the first live tournament of his life – the Championship Event at the Empire State Hold’em Championships 2007, which he won with $ 198K in his hands at the age of 19.
After that, Matt dropped out of University, focusing entirely on poker. Since 2006, the main source of income for him has been playing cash, but how much he earned offline is unknown. HighStakesDB records that at the end of 2012, when Matt left PokerStars, his cash profit there was $ 88K on 49,018 NLH hands and PLO $ 25 / $ 50 and above.
The poker player’s success was based on hard work and perseverance – so, after learning about the requirements for SuperNova Elite in 2009, he started playing 15K hands per day (more than 1K hands per hour!) To achieve the desired result, and slept no more than 6 hours a day. This continued until he left PokerStars.
The Canadian’s tournament results were also good – according to PocketFives, he received almost $ 3M in prize money on PokerStars and FTP with an unknown profit, while on the WPN network, where he played under the nickname “Adzizzard”, from 2019 to 2021 he went into negative $ 41K (92 $ 630 ABI tournaments).
From 2007 to 2019, Marafioti regularly entered ITM in live tournaments, but after the first event he never became a winner again. Matt’s 63 places have 20 finals, including four at the WSOP, three at the WPT, and two each at the PCA and EPT.
It is noteworthy that for a long time the poker player’s business manager was his father Sam, who changed his attitude to poker in the course of his son’s success:
Poker requires a lot of skill, physical and mental skill. Of course, there is an element of luck here – for example, Matthew is very lucky. But he does not play slots or baccarat, where the minimum depends on you, because he is not a gambler. For people like Matt, gambling is just silly attempts to catch luck by the tail. He approaches poker with discipline, spending a lot of time and energy on learning and relying on his mind and perseverance. Winning for him is a reward for diligence.
Controversial reputation and allegations of fraud
Successful in the game, Matt had a controversial reputation in the community due to his hot temper and aggressive manner of communication – during expensive games online and offline, Marafioti repeatedly insulted opponents and gave them various unflattering characteristics on his blog.
So, in 2010, he wrote that he surpasses Daniel Negreanu as a player, and his lifestyle is much cooler, although he does not receive a lot of money from the poker room to maintain his image. After that, he invited Negreanu to play heads-up at any rate, paying Dan $ 500 for every hour of play.
When reporters asked Negreanu if he agreed with what Matt said and whether he would play with him, he replied:
He is the perfect embodiment of the concept of an outcast. I don’t want to encourage such a person. If I start answering all the crazy assholes who write something about me on the Internet, then a day will not be enough for me.
Then the poker players mostly laughed at the situation, although many condemned Marafioti for unmotivated claims against Negreanu. The player’s reputation worsened in 2012 when he parted ways with a poker player Lauren Kling (Lauren Kling) allegedly because of her betrayal. Matt began literally stalking her ex on social networks, posting insults in her direction on the TwoPlusTwo forum, Twitter and other sites. Lauren did not stand aside and also poured a ton of dirt on him.
The guys could not calm down for almost a year – each wanted to harm the other, but in the end it was Matt who suffered the most. The poker community did not appreciate his behavior, and many poker players publicly condemned the guy for intemperance and bringing personal information to the public, because he was the initiator.
At the same time, Matt got into an online conflict with several poker pros who accused him of cheating and buying Twitter followers. The most striking then was the dispute with Jonah Agiarom (Jon Aguiar), which ended in a skirmish in life – they started fighting at the Bicycle casino and almost got into a fight, but they were separated in time. Later William Reynolds reinforced rumors of his former friend’s dishonesty and urged Matt to confess that he conspired with a computer security specialist named Samar Rahman – together they allegedly planned to hack into other players’ computers in order to see their cards. This did not follow any revelations with facts, all the time Matt threatened everyone who doubted him that he would sue them (but did not file), and later completely apologized for everything written and said and cleaned up Twitter.
Marafioti later claimed in several interviews that he was actually a good guy who was slandered and purposefully tried to put in a negative light.
How drugs and the Illuminati ruined Marafioti’s life
From 2013 to 2016, Matt almost did not appear in the media space – although he continued to play poker, he never got into scandalous situations and did not win major titles, so the community gradually began to forget about him.
And so on July 14, 2016 the poker player Randy Dorfman (Randy Dorfman) tweeted the Canadian missing – no one has seen him since mid-June, when he got a couple of diplomas at the WSOP in Las Vegas. Asking for help in locating his whereabouts, Randy drew attention to the fact that Marafioti suffers from psychological problems and his family is very worried.
Half a month later, Matt got in touch, posting on your YouTube channel a video in which he said that he did not disappear anywhere, but simply enjoys the summer with his friends.
I decided not to finish the WSOP and go camping. To be honest, the poker community is very stupid and evil, I have no friends in it, so I decided to leave it. I want to live the happy and calm life that I deserve.
In this video, he denied that he had any mental problems, while saying that “there is a plan – to make me crazy, to lock me in an insane asylum, stick with needles and feed me with poison.” He also noted that members of a certain gang are planning to kill Matt – and his mother will help them.
Even then, it became clear that his mental health was questionable. Although Mat returned to live poker several times over the next three years and designed dipranas, he became increasingly fascinated with conspiracy theories. He constantly commented on YouTube videos about the Illuminati. [прим. автора: иллюминаты в конспирологии — тайное общество, контролирующее исторические процессы в мире] and posted on Twitter that they were trying to “remove” him so that he would not expose the Illuminati.
In 2020, Matt and his girlfriend Jenny Svankar had a son, Sammy, but soon the couple’s relationship went wrong and they parted ways.
In 2021, it turned out that the reason was Matt’s addiction to methamphetamine and developing paranoia: the poker player constantly left home, because he was searched and persecuted, while, according to the recollections of relatives, there was nothing like this in reality.
Marafioti treated Jenny in the same way that he behaved with Lauren in 2012 – he began to post screenshots of their correspondences on Instagram, interspersed with videos and pictures about world conspiracies. In addition, he made a channel on YouTube, in which he uploaded recordings of the conversation with Jenny. As a result, through the court, she forbade him to approach the child.
Unable to see his son, Matt published his photographs, confessing his boundless love, and regretting that he could not be with him:
I am very proud of my son and I love him. He is the most amazing person I have met. Whatever happens next, the time I spent with my son will always be the most wonderful time in my life. At the end of each day, I hope to see him again. This is the most important thing for me now.
Matt sued Jenny to obtain sole custody of the child, but did not have time to complete the case. August 13 poker player posted on Instagram a photograph of a family friend who came to Matt to take him to his parents. In the caption to the photo, he wrote that they wanted to kidnap him and make him look crazy, and if he left the apartment, he would disappear. A few hours after the publication, Marafioti jumped from the 28th floor in a fit of paranoia.
The poker community’s reaction to Marafioti’s death
It turned out that despite the tarnished reputation, many poker players respected Marafioti, sympathized with him and even considered him a friend – after confirming his death, posts with memories of Matt and expressions of grief began to appear on Twitter.
In particular, Doug Polk called him the absolute $ 25 / $ 50 cash boss he will always remember.
Streamer Bakes said that in a difficult period for him, it was Matt who helped him cope – he was always a very nice and sympathetic guy.
Andrew Hannah remembered that when he first met Matt, he was amazed at his kind character and generosity. Marafioti called him for dinner several times and looked like a kind-hearted person who really wants to be friends.