Nine players returned to the Gold Strike Casino on Tuesday to take their seats at the final table of the World Poker Open's $5,000 buy-in. The chip leader of those final nine was professional poker player Clonie Gowen.
Clonie Gowen was introduced to poker as a teenager by a boyfriend's father. She spent weekends driving between Dallas and Shreveport, Louisiana to be able to play on a more serious level. Her competitive nature spurred her further and earned her a tenth-place showing in her first major tournament, The 2002 World Poker Tour Costa Rica Classic. She followed that up by winning the World Poker Tour Ladies' Night Invitational. Other successes on the felt include a third-place finish at the Full Tilt Poker Championship in Las Vegas and fourth place in a $2,000 event at the Five Diamond World Poker Classic in December of 2005.
This year, Clonie is back with a vengeance, cashing in four separate events at the World Series of Poker as well as her largest win to date, a first-place showing at the Bellagio Cup's No Limit Hold'em Main Event in July. To date, Clonie has won NBC's "Poker After Dark" six-player tournament three times, a record she shares with Phil Helmuth.
Clonie came into Day Two of the World Poker Open in second place but struggled for most of the day. When the tournament wound down to 12 players — in what Clonie described as a key hand that led her to the final table with about an 80,000-chip lead over then second place Kirby Brewer — she was able to see a free flop with three limpers from the big blind. The board at the river showed Q-10-6-7-K. Nam Huynh moved all in and Clonie called with 10-6 for two pair to beat Nam's 9-7 for a pair of sevens.
With eight players left, Clonie dropped down to fifth place. She jumped into second place when her pocket queens beat out Brandon Jarrett's A-10, doubling her up. She took a huge chip lead with six players left when her hit top pair on the flop and Brandon's suited Q-J failed to connect, taking him out of the tournament in third place.
Besides a few short stints, the two-hour heads-up between Clonie and BJ McBrayer was Clonie's game. She played an aggressive style, making the right plays at the right times.
Seeing women like Clonie Gowen take on the odds and make the dream of the felt come true is an inspiration to all the women working towards that same goal. Congratulations, Clonie!
Ed note: Photo - IMPDI
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