Legends of Poker: Cyndy Violette
Cyndy Violette was born in Queens, New York and credits her Uncle Ross with teaching her to play cards at home on the kitchen table. She comes from a background of gamblers with a poker-playing grandfather and a father who enjoys sports betting, but nobody pushed her into the gambling world, it just happened.
Her family moved to Las Vegas when she was twelve, and by 18, Cyndy was playing blackjack in the local casinos on a fake ID. She won some money by playing alongside a card counter, but considered the action to be a bit of a grind. However, by the time she was 22, Cyndy was back at the blackjack tables. This time though, she was dealing the game to players at Binion's Horseshoe Casino.
She met her first husband, and had a daughter, Shannon, who may also find herself with the gambling "bug" since her mom spent her maternity leave playing poker at the Silver Slipper. Cyndy also learned to deal poker, and by 1983 had quit her job to play full-time.
There are a lot of similarities between Cyndy and myself. We were both born in 1959 (Cyndy on August 19th), we both moved to Las Vegas and did some card counting in the late 1970's, and we both took jobs as "21" dealers and became poker dealers. Cyndy has a daughter named Shannon, and my wife's name is Shannon, but the biggest coincidence is the fact that 1986 was a watershed year for each of us.
It was there in Las Vegas, during the second year of the Golden Nugget's Grand Prix of Poker that we both reached turning points in our lives. I don't remember Cyndy at the tables, and I missed her smiling face after she won the Seven-Card Stud tournament and pocketed a cool $74,000 since I busted out with three tables to go and was sulking across the street with my friend, Tom Klein. However, the win generated considerable interest in the US media, and Violette even did an article for Playboy. I headed back to Reno and the friendly hold'em games at Harrah's, and I got married for the second time.
Strangely enough, Cyndy fell in love, and was also married for the second time. Even stranger, however, is the fact that Violette moved from Las Vegas to Washington State. Life happens. It happens fast. Poker endures.
Cyndy wonders these days if she was looking to get out of the spotlight, or was searching for more in her life, but she was away from the tables for several years. However, during a trip to Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas in 1990, Cyndy showed she hadn't lost her fastball by taking down first-place and $60,000 in her first poker tournament in years. The win was enough to convince her that she should get back to the bigger games, and she traveled regularly to Las Vegas and Los Angeles over the next few years.
After her divorce in 1993, Violette moved to Atlantic City, where poker had been legalized in the casinos. She bought a home there, and took on the healthy seven-stud competition found on the East Coast. Since that time she has added a home in Las Vegas as well as one in Los Angeles, so she can be comfortable wherever she is currently playing poker.
Cyndy made her first World Series of Poker final table in 1995, finishing seventh in the $1,000 Women's 7-Card Stud tournament. The following year she improved on that by finishing 3rd in the $5,000 Open Seven-Card Stud tournament. Since that time she has had a final-table finish almost every year, and the 2004 Series proved to be very special.
Although she finished in the money at the $1,500 stud event as well as the $2,000 HORSE event (which shows an enormous amount of versatility), it was the $2,000 Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo event that stands out as a crowning glory. In this tournament, Cyndy beat a very large, very strong field and captured her first World Series of Poker gold bracelet. The win was worth $136,000 and proved again that women can compete (and beat) the best the game can offer.
Cyndy capped the 2004 poker year by placing fifth in the World Poker Tour's Ladies Night Out tournament. It is only fitting that this was held at the Legends of Poker Tournament in Los Angels, as it helped cement in many player's minds that Cyndy had finally arrived as a Legend of Poker.
If there were any doubters left, Violette dispelled them at the 2005 World Series of Poker by making the money in five events, and being featured at the final table of three of those tournaments. Her second-place finish to Erik Seidel in the $2,000 No Limit Hold'em tournament will make good TV entertainment for years to come, and the $300,000 prize she won pushed her 2005 WSOP winnings to over $400,000.
Although Cyndy has had a great deal of success over the years, she credits her macrobiotic diet for keeping her calm and focused through the grueling hours of tournament play. She also listens to positive affirmation CD's which she plans to someday produce for other poker players. In addition, she also hopes to develop a café bookstore that will feature a vegetarian fare.
I'm sorry I haven't had the privilege of playing against Cyndy, as she always seems to have a smile on her face. Her positive attitude about her life, her healthy lifestyle, and her coming fortune across the green felt make her a pleasant, but still formidable opponent. I see only good things in her future.