T.J. Cloutier had been a great, well-rounded athlete upon entering college at the University at California at Berkeley with a scholarship to play both football and basketball. When things got rough for his family, Cloutier was forced to drop out of school and settle for a job to do his part. This lasted until he was drafted into the army and sent to fight for the country. It was with this tour of duty that T.J. discovered poker.
After his duties were fulfilled, Cloutier didn’t jump right into playing poker professionally. Instead, he went back to his passion of football and found a spot on the Montreal Allouettes in the Canadian Football League. Later traded to the Toronto Argonauts, Cloutier continued to play football until a knee injury cut his career short. Soon after, T.J. moved to Texas and his poker career really began to kick off.
Working in Texas on an oil rig, Cloutier started to play poker more and more in his spare time. Soon enough, T.J. would realize that he could make more money playing poker full time and quit his job.
Specializing in tournament poker, with an extensive list of cashes and titles, T.J. holds over 50 wins and six WSOP bracelets. Those six bracelets came in 1987, two in 1994, 1998, 2004, and 2005. Cloutier is also the only player to ever win the three different versions of Omaha at the WSOP; pot-limit Omaha, limit Omaha, and limit Omaha 8-or-better.
He’s never won the big one though, coming very close on multiple occasions. A second place in 1985, a fifth place in 1988, a third place in 1998, and a second place again in 2000 are as close as he’s come in the Main Event. If it wasn’t for Chris “Jesus” Ferguson coming behind in the final hand of the 2000 WSOP Main Event, Cloutier might have went on to capture the title.
Cloutier has also cashed in multiple WPT events, the United States Poker Championships, and the National Heads-Up Poker Championship among others.
Inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in 2006, T.J. has authored books on both No-Limit and Pot-Limit Hold’em as well as Omaha. His career tournament earnings total over the $9 million mark.