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T. J. Cloutier interview

By Paul McGuire

T.J. Cloutier has won more major tournaments that anyone else in the history of poker. Despite being ill over the last year and having the difficult task of facing an expanding field of players, T.J. still managed to beat out 466 of the best poker players in the world. Here is an excerpt from an interview conducted with T.J. a few minutes after he took first place in the World Series of Poker $5,000 NL event, where he won his sixth WSOP bracelet.

Paul McGuire, T.J. Cloutier
 Paul McGuire meets T.J. Cloutier - © Las Vegas & Poker

Q. I heard you had health problems this past year. How are you feeling?

TJ Cloutier: The heart attack happened when I was in L.A. and I went through an operation. They are treating me with pills and stuff, but overall I feel pretty good. Then I had that blood clot on my brain when I was down in Aruba. It was funny because I went from $20,000 to $392,000 on the second day and was leading the tournament. Then it hit me and boy, I blew it all on five hands. I wanted to get back to America and get to the doctor right away. As soon as I got home they opened my head up and they relieved all the pressure. Now everything is good.

Q. How many major tournaments have you won?

TJ: 58 wins. No one has come close when it comes to the major tournaments. And I don’t count those smaller buy in tournaments.

Q. What do you feel about winning your 6th WSOP bracelet?

TJ: I am very happy with that accomplishment along with being at 39 final tables and 47 cashes. Today you’re facing big fields. I was the third leading money winner at the World Series of Poker a couple of years ago. Now somebody comes in and they win it one time and they pass you by in millions.

Q. How is the field of players this year?

TJ: They are very good players. They are churning out now like you wouldn’t believe it. I’m a lot older than most of them and I’ve played a lot more poker than them. We have different styles. Different styles work for different people. When it’s get down towards the end, I’m very confident that I can win. I always think I can beat anybody.

Q. Is this going to be your year when you win the Big One?

TJ: I’ve been practicing and playing in $11 tournaments every night online so I can get used to big fields.

Q. So who’s your nemesis?

TJ: Chris “Jesus” Ferguson. He got me in the 2000 WSOP with A-9 (against A-Q). Then we played in the Heads Up Championship and he moved all in against me with K2. I called him with an Ace-Ten of clubs and he caught a deuce on me.

Q. Are you going to play in all of the events this year?

TJ: I’m scheduled to play in 24. I might play in 25. There are too many events. The hardest thing to do in poker is to bring you’re A-Game everyday. When I sit down, I want to have my A-Game.

Q. So you’ve made it to 39 final tables. Do you have any more left in you?

TJ: I’m going to start working on number 40 tomorrow.

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