As a former Miss Teen Oklahoma, Cycalona “Clonie” Gowen might appear to be out of place at a poker table. Her stunning physique doesn’t fit quite fit with the stereotypical male, out of shape card player.
But part of what makes Clonie Gowen so unique is that she’s always just been one of the guys. Growing up in Kiowa, Oklahoma, Gowen was a regular high school jock. She was a member of a state championship basketball team and starred on her track and field team as a high jumper, where she was ranked seventh in the state of Oklahoma.
Budding in a competitive environment helped turn Gowen into the cutthroat poker player she is today. She learned the game as a teen from her boyfriend’s father in Dallas, TX, and was fully supported by her mother when she made the decision to take her game to a higher level.
Clonie Gowen began playing cash games in Shreveport, Louisiana on a regular basis before catching her first huge break. Following a 10th place finish in a $500 World Poker Tour event in Costa Rica, she was invited to play in the WPT Ladies Night at the Bicycle Casino. Gowen earned $25,000 by defeating some of the top female players in the world, including Annie Duke, Jennifer Harman, Kathy Liebert and Evelyn Ng. More important, though, was the instant fame that resulted from winning a nationally-televised tournament.
Gowen used her newfound celebrity status by making appearances on Poker Royale: Battle of the Sexes, as well as the Full Tilt Poker Pro Showdown and NBC’s Poker After Dark, where she and Phil Hellmuth are the only players to have won the six-handed tournament three times (as of October 2008).
Some of Clonie Gowen’s other achievements 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. But despite being one of the most recognizable names in the game, Gowen received some criticism for never winning a major tournament.
That all changed in July of 2008 when Gowen took down a $5,000 No Limit Hold ’em event at the Bellagio Cup IV for $437,775. It was the biggest cash of her life and helped her eclipse the $1 million mark for career earnings. The critics have since been hushed.
Gowen juggles her job as a poker pro by spending quality time with her two children in Dallas. She has also branched out by appearing as a guest commentator on the Ultimate Poker Challenge and is a teacher at the WPT Boot Camp. She is most notably sponsored by Full Tilt Poker, joining the likes of Gus Hansen, Phil Ivey, Chris “Jesus” Ferguson and many more of the world’s top players. She plays frequently on the site and enjoys chatting with players and observers, making her a key piece of Team Full Tilt.