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Poker News | People in Poker | Poker Superstars

Where Are They Now – Cyndy Violette

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Where are They Now is a series of an in depth look at all poker players - not just the pros - as they travel through one long game. Some of the players profiled are deceased but not forgotten.

There has been a common argument making its way through the poker forums of late about sponsorship, and how to attain it.  Most poker pros will tell you that there are two easy ways to do it.  The first step is to be a woman.  Second, and more importantly in many of these people’s eyes, is to be attractive.  Admittedly, Cyndy Violette fits both of these descriptions, but what sets her apart from the rest of the “poker babes” is that she’s been earning her keep at the table for longer than many of these other female players have been alive.  That’s not to compare Violette to only the top female players, as she has proven herself to be one of the better tournament and cash game players in the world today, on both sides of the gender line.  

Cyndy Violette was born on August 19, 1959 in Queens, New York.  She was introduced to the game of poker as an early child and immediately felt connected to the game, a feeling that continues today.  By the time she was old enough to sit at the kitchen table without assistance from a high chair, she was playing poker with her family.  Her Uncle Ross taught her the nuances of the type of game they were playing, which was usually seven card stud during those days.  

When Violette was 12 her family relocated to Las Vegas so her parents could pursue new job opportunities, which weren’t in the gambling field.  Despite being in the middle of the “Mecca” of poker, Violette put the game aside for a while so she could concentrate on getting an education.  It wasn’t until she was an adult that she really became interested in poker again.

In the early 80’s Violette eventually got a job dealing blackjack at a Las Vegas casino.  While she was married, and pregnant with her daughter, Violette visited another local casino to visit her sister, who was also a blackjack dealer. It was here she started playing poker again, sitting down at a low stakes game to blow off some steam after work.  Quickly she realized that she wasn’t just blowing off steam, but she was making some additional income to boot.  She asked for a transfer at her casino so she could start dealing poker instead of blackjack.  It was while doing this that she began to really study the players and began to incorporate some of the better players’ strategies into her own game.  One of her early poker friends and mentors was Stuey “The Kid” Ungar.  Not a bad name to learn from at all.  It took a few years, but Violette was once again in love with the game that captivated her so many years ago at her kitchen table.

On a trip to Lake Tahoe with her then husband, she went to a poker tournament while he went fishing.  Violette would win enough money that she began to entertain thoughts that she could do this for a living.  In her very first major tournament, in December of 1984, she finished 4th at the Annual Jack Strauss Championships in the $1,000 Limit Seven Card Stud Event.  This good showing cemented her decision to become a professional poker player.

Her decision proved a brilliant one, as just one month later she would make poker history.  Violette won the 1985 Stairway to the Stars Limit Seven Card Stud event.  The prize was $75,000 which at the time was the most any woman had ever won at a poker tournament.  She became a local celebrity overnight, appearing in newspapers, and local television morning shows.  She was being hailed as the next big superstar, but love would get in the way, because during her new found glory she met the man that would become her husband.  For the next few years Violette gave poker a backseat while she enjoyed the married life.

Violette was still living in Vegas, and on a trip with her husband to a casino she felt the sudden urge to enter into a poker tournament.  It was like she never left, as she won that tournament.  She told her husband that she wanted to play poker, and she obviously has a knack for it, being able to step away from the game for a number of years only to return to win your first tournament.  For the next three years she concentrated on cash games, mostly stud, but she also began to learn hold’em at the time.  

In 1993 she got a divorce, but heard some good news when Atlantic City legalized poker  While she admits to loving Vegas, she had been looking for an excuse to get back to the east coast because that’s where the majority of her family lived.  Visitors to Atlantic City probably wished she hadn’t made that her new home, as she quickly became a winner at the cash games there.  

Between 1995 and 2003 she had a number of good tournament showings, including nine cashes in the World Series of Poker.  While cash games were her bread and butter, she had kept a goal in the back of her mind that she wanted to win a WSOP bracelet to solidify herself as one of the best ever.  Sure, the cash games were nice, but a bracelet is forever.  

The 2004 WSOP would not only be a big year for Violette, but a big year for woman professional poker players as a whole.  Violette achieved her dream of winning a bracelet when she beat 223 others to win the $2,000 Seven Card Stud, Hi-Lo Split event for $135,900.  Other women winning bracelets that year were well respected professionals Katy Liebert and Annie Duke.  Through 2008 Violette has finished in the money at the WSOP 27 times, including a 23rd place finish (out of 261) in this past year's $5,000 World Championship Seven Card Hi-Lo event.

Violette takes a different approach with her to the poker table.  For many, the life of a poker professional isn’t conducive to a healthy lifestyle, but for Violette she makes sure to put her health first, which she attributes to her success at the poker table.  For starters, she follows an ultra-strict vegan macrobiotic diet, which focuses highly on grains, and shuns any highly processed foods.  She has also been practicing yoga for many years, long before it was the “in” thing to do.  Violette has said that in the not too near future she would like to open a health food store in the Atlantic City area.

Since its inception, Violette was one of the poker pros to play at “Doyle’s Room,” the online room sponsored by poker legend Doyle Brunson.  But, just last month she announced on her personal website that she has joined the team over at Full Tilt Poker .  Before moving there she says she didn’t play online much, but has enjoyed her new website so much that she hasn’t even left the house to go to a casino in a number of days. 

When she does decide to come out you can bet she will resume her seat at one of the casinos and start right from where she quit, something she’s done quite a few times in her career.

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