Matthew Hilger talks poker and publishing with PNB

Posted by Steve Ruddock on Nov 14, 2012 Posted in Interviews | No Comments »

Matthew Hilger is a professional poker player and the owner of Dimat Publishing, one of the top publishing houses for poker books. The latest entry to roll off the Dimat printing presses is the third volume of the smash series Winning Poker Tournaments One Hand at a Time. Matthew was kind enough to answer a few questions for us regarding the new book, as well as some questions on poker in general.

Read our review of Winning Poker Tournaments One Hand at a Time Volume 3

PokerNewsBoy: Winning Poker Tournaments One Hand at a Time series has three credited authors, along with your contributions to the text; just in terms of logistics what was it like getting this project completed?

Matthew Hilger: For those who have followed the series, you know that this book has been in the works for quite some time. The first step was finding 50 interesting hands to analyze. Both PearlJammer and Rizen had done some extra hands for WPT II, so we included those. I took some hands from my biggest online victory. I also viewed some online final tables of the PokerStars Sunday Millions to find some interesting hands. Finally, we solicited hands from Forum Members at our website, At this point, we send out the hands to each author. Once I get the responses back, I determine whether or not the intended lessons and discussion make for interesting reading. There is a lot of back and forth between myself and each author’s comments. Once we have a good draft from each author, I sent the hands out for them to review each other’s responses. Finally, new to Volume III, I added in my own commentary to try and summarize the discussion and lessons learned for each hand.

Logistically, it is a challenge working with three authors who are all busy doing their own things, but the work paid off and the feedback has been fantastic.

PNB: You’re not new to poker, so were there any points where you disagreed with any of the advice proffered?

MH: The beauty of this series, and different from any other poker book, is that you get to see three different opinions, and in the case of Volume III, sometimes four when discussing hands that I played. The first hands were taken from one of my tournaments, and you’ll see that I made many mistakes that the guys were happy to point out. When I get back the first responses on the hands from the three authors, I can’t wait to compare and contrast. I’m ecstatic when I get one guy saying raise, one say call, and one say fold. That makes for interesting analysis. The main goal of this series is not to teach a mechanical way of playing, but more just teaching you how professional players think through situations. Whether you agree or disagree, you can always appreciate their analysis. In terms of specific advice that I might disagree with, in the back and forth editing between myself and the author, I would simply challenge the authors to explain better their analysis to ensure the explanations were well thought out.

PNB: You were one of the first, if not the first, author to really tackle the subject of Internet poker (I think I read Internet Texas Holdem before Moneymaker’s WSOP run was aired on ESPN if I recall correctly), what do you think of Internet poker now compared to the early days?

MH: So much has changed. I was really a pioneer playing full-time professional online poker back in 2001-2003. My book came out at the perfect time, the summer of 2003 and things just took off. But nowadays, the game is so much tougher. There are so many tools to learn the game. I would like to see the online poker sites cater more to novices. For example, you could have low-stakes tables that are only for players who have signed up a new account in the last six months. After six months, they “graduate” to the common tables. For players trying to start out new, it is just so tough that they will be eaten alive. I think basically the online poker industry is on a path to destroy itself by not giving new players a decent chance to develop their games.

PNB: Could you talk about Dimat Publishing, and why you decided to start your own publishing company focusing on poker?

MH: I was coauthor on my third book, The Poker Mindset. But basically, Ian Taylor wrote that book and I simply gave him a lot of feedback from the beginning of the process to the end. I enjoyed it thoroughly simply working with another author. After the success of that book, I decided I enjoyed the editing process a lot more than trying to write another book myself from start to finish and so I started to seek out other authors. First on the list was approaching Rizen when I came up with the Winning Poker Tournaments idea.

PNB: Time for the “Hot Seat” question: After three books, which of these guys would you hire as your poker coach and why?

MH: Wow – tough question. Again, the beauty of this series is that you can learn from different styles. I’ve learned so much from all three of these guys. If someone were to ask me for a poker coach, I would likely recommend Rizen. From a pure teaching perspective, he does a lot of coaching and is also involved in the WPT Boot Camps – so he has a lot of experience from simply a coaching perspective. If I were looking for a poker book editor, without question I would want PearlJammer. He is an excellent writer and editor and has a very clear thinking process in terms of what he wants to communicate. In terms of my own game, I’d love to sit down with Apestyles for a week and watch his play to try and learn some things that I could incorporate into my own game.

So that’s my political answer. But truthfully, I wouldn’t hire any of them. After three books, I think we’ve had enough of each other!




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