recently had the very good fortune of tracking
down one of poker's best ambassadors and highly-talented
player. Clonie Gowen, a staple on the World Poker
Tour and a member of Team FullTilt, decided at
an early age that poker was her calling. So how
does this WPT Ladies' Night champion and mother
of 2 manage to stay at the top of her game, teach
poker seminars, coach ambitious players, and still
find time to relax in Dallas, TX? Read on to find
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PL: How did you first get involved with poker?
Clonie: I dated a boy in high school whose parents
played poker. So we'd go over there on the weekends
to play poker. I was 15 and developed a passion
for the game at that early age.
PL: So when did you make the decision that it
was time to go pro?
Clonie: I went to Vegas for the first time when
I was 17 and played poker for the first time.
I came back about 3 times a year, then started
driving to Shreveport, Louisiana on the weekends
and really began to play more seriously.
PL: It seems like you made a really fast ascent
in the poker world. If we have our timeline right,
you went on vacation in Costa Rica and got 10th
in a WPT event…
Clonie: Kinda sorta. The WPT made that a bigger
thing than it was. I was on vacation, but was
also there to play poker – I just happened
to have my family with me. And I also placed 2
nd in another $500 buy-in event, which was a lot
PL: And then from that you were invited to that
Ladies' Event, which you won.
Clonie: Yes, and I also had some other good finishes
around then, and 11 th and a 16 th in some other
pretty major events that year.
PL: And now Team FullTilt and Poker Royale…have
you really had time for all this success to sink
Clonie: Well, the funny thing is, I was a cash
player long before my tournament success, so they
made more of a bigger deal of those. I've played
poker for many years – I'm now 34 –
but most people only know me from my WPT appearances.
I certainly never thought I'd be where I am now.
PL: As far as Team FullTilt goes, how much of
your time do you spend with them and what is your
Clonie: We all worked to develop the software
that everyone uses now on FullTilt.com. So now
we all play on the site and try to get together
once every couple of months.
PL: How does living in Dallas, Texas affect your
Clonie: Well, it certainly means I'm traveling
all the time. With no legal poker here in Texas
, the tournament circuit keeps me on the road
a lot. But that's just the nature of the business.
All of the big pros are traveling quite a bit.
PL: So what do you think about these made-for-TV
events? Do you enjoy putting your own money on
the line in the big WPT tournaments, or is it
more relaxing playing in the made-for-TV events?
Clonie: Well actually, even those events require
a buy-in…they just usually add money to
PL: We noticed that some pros, specifically Erik
Seidel, are very outspoken on the fact that the
WSOP and WPT are raking in the bucks and should
add money to the pot since they're profiting mostly
off of the pros?
Clonie: I absolutely agree with the idea that
these big corporations should give some back to
the players. They are making so much money off
of the fact that we're playing on their shows,
and it's all our own money going into the prize
pool. Erik is completely right here.
PL: You're also on the board of the US Poker
Association. What kinds of things are you all
working on right now?
Clonie: Well, I wish I could say, “a lot”,
but the USPA is kind of at a stand still. There
really isn't anything going on right now. They're
re-organizing and trying to get things off the
ground, but they need a lot more members. Maybe
they need to start going to tournaments to sign
PL: How about your lecturing and teaching activities?
Clonie: I do teach at the WPT Boot Camp and at
Howard Lederer's events. The Boot Camp is usually
made up of players at a standstill in their game,
looking to get to the next level.
PL: How about life away from poker? What do you
like to do in your spare time?
Clonie: I enjoy spending time with my family
at home, and not playing poker.
PL: So are you one to keep your kids from playing
until they're older, and are you teaching them
Clonie: If my kids show interest in poker, which
my son does, then I want to be the one there that
is teaching them. There are lots of good things
to learn from poker – math, money management.
And I don't believe kids should just go wild on
the internet, that's just not good parenting.
PL: So having been in the poker lifestyle for
over 13 years now, would you rather see your kids
get into a more mainstream career?
Clonie: My daughter is 13 and she actually knows
how to play poker and she's really pretty good.
But if you ask her if she wants to be a poker
player, she'll say, “No, that's my mom's
job.” It's just not her thing. She wants
to be a veterinarian, so that's her world. She
does think my job is cool, as do her friends,
since I'm on TV sometimes…
PL: In an event as long and grueling as the WSOP,
how do you maintain focus?
Clonie: You just have to really love the game.
When I'm sitting down at a table, I mostly love
it, so I can play forever. But if you're not in
the right mindset to play, then you won't be able
to last as long.
PL: Any major goals for next year?
Clonie: Make it past the dinner break…[laughs].
PL: What, if anything, would you change about
how the WSOP was run this year?
Clonie: I'm sure everyone's said the same thing,
but the long bathroom lines were really ridiculous.
And the switching up of some events because of
TV coverage isn't good – they raised the
limits on some tournaments because of television,
which isn't fair for the players.
PL: How about the WSOP field – do you think
they should try to limit the number of players
with a larger buy-in?
Clonie: Absoluely not. Sure, there are more people
to go through, but the added dead money, and huge
payouts now, I'm all for letting it continue to
grow. You just play one table at a time and avoid
the land mines if you can.
Several times at this year's WSOP I went out
with the best hand – thank goodness there
was a tournament the next day!
PL: Do you have any special routines or preparations
to get yourself ready for these big events?
Clonie: Yes, I eat a lot of sushie, which makes
me feel good and keeps my energy level up.
PL: So what are some of the benefits of the poker
lifestyle, and the downsides?
Clonie: The nice parts are getting to travel,
which I never thought I'd get to do like this
much, and being on TV, which is fun.
The worst part of the poker lifestyle is also
all the travel and the time I'm away from home.
You're traveling so much that you're just worn-out.
It's hard to be well rested for a big event now
because you don't have the downtime like you used
to a few years ago.
PL: So on to the WPT. Do you see their latest
move to allow players to wear logos as a move
in the right direction for poker?
Clonie: I do, but there are still stipulations
to that. A player who makes the final table in
a WPT event can't immediately signup sponsors
right then. They have to pre-register their sponsors
ahead of time and present the logo'd shirt at
the start. It's not super-easy, but it is a good
change for the players.
PL: So do you have any plans for a book?
Clonie: Yes, I have a book coming out in the
Fall of '06, so keep your eye out for it!
PL: When researching your background for this
interview, we found a lot of “interesting”
posts on the internet about you…do you follow
any of that, or just ignore it?
Clonie: I have seen some of what's out there
but don't tend to read any of it regularly. A
lot of it is personal stuff from people who know
nothing about you, but just like to spread rumors.
It can get in your head if you let it, so I don't
pay it any attention.
Most of the stuff I've read lately seems like
it's from a lot of kids, and all sexually-oriented.
No one has anything of value to say about the
female players. It's just like high school…who's
the hottest, or who is so-and-so dating. I just
try to avoid all that because it makes me feel
PL: Well, then you probably haven't noticed that
there are basically two groups of internet geeks…
Clonie: Ones who think I'm hot and ones who don't??
PL: We were actually thinking about the ones
who either think you're one of the great women
players and a nice ambassador, or they feel you
haven't done anything in the poker world and are
mostly jealous haters.
Clonie: Ahh yes, that. Well every pro has fans
and detractors. I'm doing what I'm doing and they're
posting on the internet. So it really doesn't
bother me – I know who I am and what I do,
and I make a very good living…so they can
post what they want.
PL: Great Answer, Congratulations on your success.
this and other interviews in the Lizard Lounge
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