January, February, March...as each month goes on so does another poker tournament. Clonie Gowen is a top professional player and is always in attendance at the big events. Traveling and playing so much can get tiring so I asked her how she keeps up with the crazy lifestyle of a pro poker player.
KL: How do you prepare for a tournament before you play that morning?
Clonie: When I wake up I try to have a nice light breakfast because I don't want to eat too much, or anything really, really heavy so usually I try to have fruits and things like that. Basically I just kind of get myself in a good mind set. I don't necessarily sit down and go, ‘mmmm' and meditate like that but it's a very meditating thing for me just pumping myself up and knowing that when I get in there to go with whatever happens at the time.
KL: How do you stay focused when you lose a lot of chips?
Clonie: If I am the big stack and I all of a sudden become a medium stack as soon as I lose that hand, whether that person wasn't supposed to be in the pot or whether I wasn't supposed to be in that pot, regardless of whatever, now I just look at my situation and say ok. I am medium stack, I am at this point in the tournament, I have these types of players and I try to just focus on what's going on at the time and in that situation. If I get knocked down to a short stack then obviously I need to go to some sort of short stack strategy against the type of players I am playing with. I just try to live in the moment and play the best that I can for whatever situation I happen to be in at that time.
KL: Do you like to listen to your ipod at the table?
Clonie: I do! Well, I do and I don't. Most of the time if I have my ipod in I'm not really listening to music but I want my opponents to believe I am. I usually put them in my ear if an opponent next to me is just chatting. They are talking so much, ‘hey, where you from; hey, how did you get started; hey, hey, hey, all this and that.' Well if I am sitting there playing, I can't focus if I keep answering their questions so I put the little buds in my ears just so it looks like I am listening to music and they wont want to chat with me very much.KL: What songs fire you up?
Clonie: Well I love the song Kung-Fu Fighting. I love it because it mirrors poker in general and it just gets me pumped up. I love that song! Kung-Fu Fighting by Carl Douglas!* I love I Will Survive; I think every woman loves that song, and I like all kinds of music really but those are songs that mean something to me when I am playing.
KL: How do you handle always flying somewhere new, time zone to time zone? How do you keep it from affecting your poker game?
Clonie: I wish I could say that traveling is really easy for me. I get really frustrated with it because I do it so much and the airline industry, they just don't have customer service. I am Executive Platinum with American Airlines and that means that I fly over 150,000 miles in a year so I get really frustrated when there is bad customer service and things of that nature. When things aren't taken care of, because this is like my home when I am on the road, it's kind of like when things aren't put together at your house...you feel bad. So when you are traveling and on the road, wherever you are at the time is your home and you just want things to work out. Those are the last little things that you want to go wrong. So, I guess it's travel that really gets frustrating for me. I'm usually able to put everything behind me when I am sitting down at the poker table. The only things that I really can't emotionally put behind me are things that involve my kids or my mom or my sisters. Those are major things and obviously I shouldn't be playing anyways if those kinds of situations are coming up.
*These are the lyrics to the song Kung-Fu Fighting along with Clonie's comparison of the song to poker in bold:
Everybody was kung-fu fighting
Those cats were fast as lightning (Ever played an aggressive player?)
In fact it was a little bit frightening (Did you ever feel intimidated?)
But they fought with expert timing (They would call with Ace high, and fold second nuts.)
They were funky China men from funky Chinatown
They were chopping them up and they were chopping them down (They were taking all the money)
It's an ancient Chinese art and everybody knew their part (Bluffing is an art)
From a feint into a slip, and kicking from the hip (They knew when you were bluffing, and knew when you had a hand.)
There was funky Billy Chin and little Sammy Chun
He said here comes the big boss, lets get it on (Walks in Phil Ivey)
We took a bow and made a stand, started swinging with the hand (He came out aggressive)
The sudden motion made me skip now we're into a brand knew trip
Clonie plays not only live, but also online on Full Tilt Poker and is always gracious enough to chat with the fans and answer questions while she is playing.