Interview with Canadian Adrienne “TalonChick” Rowsome PokerStars Team Online Player

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Adrienne Rowsome Poker Stars

We often recap major online poker tournament series results and it’s pretty safe to say we have run across Edmonton player Adrienne Rowsome’s screen name “talonchick” on more than a few occasions; in fact, one only has to look as far back as the 2011 PokerStars WCOOP to find one of her recent 5 figure scores in Event #31, a $320 8-Game. As one of the newest members added to the PokerStars Team Online roster, it was certainly obvious that quite a few people in the poker world were starting to take notice of Adrienne’s online poker results.

Looking a little deeper into how Rowsome got where she is the game today turned out to be a different than the standard stories of “one big score in a NLH Championship event with a final table patch deal”; turns out “talonchick” has been attacking the game for more than a decade online, has played the WSOP Main Event multiple times and unlike the No Limit Hold’em masses, her skills in Omaha, Omaha 8, or other mixed game formats are where she truly has an edge on most and it’s not just on the online felts; she has also cashed in the top 100 of both $1,500 and $2,500 Omaha Hi/Lo WSOP events 3 consecutive years. On top of all this, she has somehow managed to find a balance between “getting signed” and still working as an Occupational Therapist. Players often talk about their poker goals and many lists we hear resemble what she has actually made happen, so we were curious enough about a few things to decide on asking Adrienne about them and as luck would have it, she was happy to answer those questions…

CP: “You were signed for PokerStars Team online in July of this year, obviously a dream result for many that take the game seriously. This has to be an opportunity you are extremely proud of; especially given the “belt tightening” sites have had to do this year. How did this all come about? Does the phone just ring one day and the meetings start?”

Adrienne Rowsome: “When I found out that I was to become a new member of Team Online with PokerStars I was extremely proud. The experience has been exciting and I look forward to the challenges that come up along the way. In 2010, it took me until December to qualify for Supernova status, so I missed out on the call for applications. When they announced the new team in early 2011, I remember thinking I belonged on that team. With that thought and some positive reinforcement from some friends who work in the poker industry, I decided to submit a resume/application of my poker endeavours since 2002, including my goals and why I would be an asset to PokerStars. The response I received was positive; however, I was told that team members who are selected have consistently updated blogs, and make themselves available to the poker public via forums and other online media. With that in mind, I started up my blog (http://talonchick.blogspot.com/) and started posting about my life, whether poker, yoga or speed dating. When I was able to establish that I had the ability to spread my time around and maintain balance between online work (whether twitter, poker or blogging) and my day job, then yes…the phone rang, discussions and interviews ensued, and here we are. “

CP: “We understand that you have been playing since 2002 but are still working as an Occupational Therapist. How difficult was it to find a balance between the two after being signed?

Adrienne Rowsome: “Since childhood, playing cards has always been a big part of my life. We play whist, cribbage, poker, and other card games at most family gatherings, usually to decide who has to get drinks, or do the dishes. So in that light, poker has never felt like a burden or an extra. I played when I wanted to (which was quite a bit) and then when my life outside of poker became too busy, I would take breaks. I started my poker career in ‘brick and mortar’ casinos, it was much more challenging to maintain balance when you had to physically be in a specific location. Online poker and a laptop gave me the freedom to play from any room in my house or even out at a friend’s house on a UFC or movie night. Since signing, the demands on my time have been increased, but like with any of my new jobs, the first few months tend to have a high learning curve and require a bit more attention.”

CP: “We often hear of players coming to point they are left having to choose between a job they love and poker. Was it difficult to convince your employers (who likely aren’t as poker “enthused”) to give you some wiggle room?

Adrienne Rowsome: “I started my work as an Occupational Therapist the same year I started playing poker for real money. In some ways, the two have always been together in my mind. My manager knows about poker, and when I was working towards a deal with PokerStars, I was honest with her. I have always been forthcoming with my work team, friends and family about poker. While initially, the public tends to have reservations about poker, and some express concern that it is gambling and tell me stories of a ‘friend of a friend’ who may have ‘lost it all’ on a hand of blackjack, they are able to learn through me that those are unreasonable prejudices. Often people are just unaware of why poker is different, so I think for that reason, it is important that poker players are open about the game we play to help diminish the stigma that goes along with it. I take great pride in my jobs, whether it is taking care of patients or representing PokerStars. That being said, because my time has been in demand, I requested to move from full time work down to part time, it has only been a slight change but now instead of working ten days in two weeks, I will work eight. This will give me more freedom to travel, blog and play in the daytime, whereas before it was only on weekends that I got much play in during ‘working’ hours. “

CP: “Just how does one start that conversation?”

Adrienne Rowsome: “It is difficult to remember, but I think the first time it came up was back in late 2002 or 2003, when I had my first five figure tournament score online. At the time, it felt like I had won an amazing sum of money. So immediately, I called my friend who taught me about online poker, and told her we were going on vacation. After booking the holiday, I realized I had not requested the time off from work. So, a bit sheepishly, I went in to my manager at the time and explained the situation and was granted the time off. In 2005, I won my WSOP Main Event seat quite late in the qualifying, so similarly, I had to go to my manager and explain the value of the tournament and why it was important to me. “

CP: “According to your blog, “Funny the way it is, if you think about it”, you will be playing in this years Poker Stars Caribbean Adventure. What events do you plan on playing?”

Adrienne Rowsome: “I certainly plan to play the mixed game events, it is where I have my biggest edge, I look forward to the Ladies Event also (I missed late registration for it during this year’s WSOP because I was still in the PLO8 event). I am participating in many of the different pathways to win a PCA Main Event seat on PokerStars, I love the idea of the FPP Mega Path, but also the $700 direct satellite seems to be the most reasonable way for me to get in. Last Sunday, I final tabled but didn’t quite make the cut off for seats (they gave away six). I am so excited because I love the Caribbean and to have both poker and beaches seems like a dream world to me! “

CP: “What about your final table “resolution”, how exactly did that come about?”

Adrienne Rowsome: “The first year of the PCA, I remember watching the footage of the final table with friends, with the players in hats and sunglasses, we were laughing and I said something to the effect of how great it would be to final table and play in a bikini! Now that I am going to PCA, it only seemed fair to put it in writing. That reminds me, I have to get in touch with the VIP Store and get them to start stocking bathing suits…there’s always the concierge I guess! “

CP: “Will you have a role in the PokerStars Canada Cup?”

Adrienne Rowsome: “Here’s hoping!!! I will certainly be in the satellite, and I hope to win it and then have to fight for the title in paradise. “

CP: “You played in the WSOP Main Event 3 times 2005-2007, did you qualify for it online every time? Many players dream of trying it just once, how would you say, if it did, this valuable experience help your game? Have you played again in more recent years?”

Adrienne Rowsome: “I qualified all three years on PokerStars, in 2005 it was the path of the double shootout and then in 2006 and 2007 I qualified via multi table tournament satellites. In 2007, Harrah’s stopped allowing third party buy-ins, so instead of taking my Main Event seat, I jumped into some of the smaller tournaments. Playing the Main Event was an experience that I am very glad that I have had, it had been my goal to play in the Main Event before I was 25. Playing in the Main Event was exhausting, back then, we still had to put in the 14 hour days and then bag chips at the end of the day. I remember not being able to talk very well the next day on the phone home. I am not sure that playing the Main Event helped my game, but it certainly gave me the taste of the WSOP and I have been back every summer. Since my Main Events, I have spent more time focusing on Omaha H/L and now almost any mixed game. “

CP: “Your specialty is a bit off the “mainstream”. It appears you prefer Omaha, in particular Hi/Low as well as other variations of “low-ball” games. Even some of todays best Pot Limit Omaha players avoid Hi/Low, some claiming it’s just too much to think about. Why did you fall in love with these less popular poker disciplines?”

Adrienne Rowsome: “I really like the games where there is more to think about, they tend to keep my attention a bit better than hold ‘em. I think that is why I am gravitating towards games like 2-7 triple draw and other 8 or 10 game events now.”

CP: “We also read you are playing a ton of No Limit “08”, honestly, this is a new one even for us. Can you tell us a bit about how that particular tournament is played?”

Adrienne Rowsome: “When I started playing Omaha H/L, it was strictly the limit variety, whether cash game or tournaments. Online limit tournaments don’t draw the same crowds as open or pot limit tournaments tend to, so I began to look at other varieties. This year, I found that PokerStars was running a $50+$1 NL Omaha H/L tournament (hyper-turbo) every evening, the action in that is fast and furious, as are most hyper-turbos. They also have daily $33 NL O8 and a Sunday $215 NL O8 that I try to play in. There are many different pre flop strategies employed in NL O8, it can make for good discussions to try to figure out what range of hands you should be calling with preflop, especially when people are open shoving a 3k stack with blinds of 25/50. It pays off to have really good notes on your opponents, to know who will bet hands that only have low value, who will call off with less than a nut low, who has an affinity for high only hands, etc.“

CP: “You have Final tabled the Woman’s Sunday 3 times, 2nd, 3rd and 4th, obviously you will continue to looking for the title in this one. As a woman in the poker world and one that has no problems giving the guys a run for their money, do you think that “ladies only events” are good for the game? It’s often a topic of debate and you have been around the felts longer than most. What is your take?”

Adrienne Rowsome: “I have actually final tabled the event 5 times; twice it was in back to back weeks. That tournament has been interesting for me, either I bust outside of the money or I final table it, I have no cashes other than those final tables. I attribute that in part to do with the bounty, some weeks I get called very lightly and I either chip up quickly or get to watch from the rail.

‘Ladies only events’ are a really great way to bring more women to the game of poker. I have yet to play a live women’s tourney, but I did walk through the room during WSOP when it was on this summer. The competition seemed pretty intense but there was an underlying camaraderie apparent. The room certainly was electric whenever a man was busted out. Of my tournament schedule, the PokerStars Women’s Sunday is the tournament I make a real effort to get to every week. I love that PokerStars provides a tournament like this and as well offering different incentives to welcome female players to the site. Just last week, they doubled the guarantee and the bounties on each of the Team Pros or Team Online players.

Women are very much underrepresented in poker, part of it no doubt has to do with traditional gender roles and traits that are more prevalent in men, but it is obvious that a significant part of it has to do with the intimidation that can be present when you sit at a poker table. The first few times I played, especially live, I was so nervous that I could barely count out chips to put in the pot. Some men at the table go out of their way to be welcoming and kind (or often flirty) but others make it clear that you are not wanted in their game. That hasn’t changed for me in my games, but now that I am comfortable at the table the only thing that has changed is how I react to the different styles and use them to my advantage. By having these ladies tournaments, new women poker players are getting the chance to sit in the game with one less deterrent initially. That being said, I feel more comfortable now at a poker table with men than a table full of ladies. “

CP: “What would you most like to accomplish next on the poker felts, having come this far? Are there any other live events on your schedule?”

Adrienne Rowsome: “The next live event on my schedule is PCA, it is really only two months away and November/December this year is looking to be hectic for me. I am aiming to hit 200,000 VPPs earned this year, it will be an all time high. Especially with the bonus offered in the PokerStars VIP store it seems silly to end the year with 180,000 VPPs or similar!

Ultimately, now that PokerStars has given me this opportunity, I really think my potential is limitless. I have been reading more books, watching more videos and discussing hands and strategy with other successful poker players to try to find my leaks and fix them! In the end, I hope you get to see me fulfill that prop at the PCA!!!”

We’ll keep watching the results in the meantime and wish “talonchick” the best of luck in all her future events! Those interested in following the Team Online player and her updates can follow @talonchick on Twitter

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35 year old recreational player, husband and father of three from Calgary, Alberta. Enjoy lower stakes cash games including PLO and limit Omaha 8. Any of the micro-stakes HORSE games will play online MTTS and SNGs. Live, Tournaments and Satellites up to $550. I love the game but am far to social to take it seriously and sometimes give up a little to much information at the table because I enjoy discussing the game, so decided it was safest for my bankroll to take up writing about the game. That way I still get to meet the cool people and opinions on the game, but with a little less risk. Writing wise, currently a regular contributor to Poker Pro Canada, like to write profiles, previews and recaps the most. formally wrote for Canadian Poker Player Canada. My Poker Blogs have been featured on CardPlayer Social and SpadeClub as "Recommended" or in newsletters on several occasions and Pokerweblogs as "Blog of the Month". Past projects included organizing and promoting major events with the Canadian Poker Tour, introducing Big Slick Poker Tour to Southern Alberta and directing events and finals.

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