Cyndy Violette
2005 Jason Kirk  

Cyndy Violette - Source

There is a very small group of names at the top of the list of the world's top female poker players, and among the best known is Cyndy Violette. She enjoys notoriety in the poker world today, but her journey hasn't been an easy one. Born and raised in Queens, NY, Violette's family moved to Las Vegas when she was 12 years old. She always enjoyed playing cards with her family at the kitchen table, so her later love of poker was no surprise. Her first experience playing poker in a casino came in her early 20s when she was pregnant with her daughter and looking for a fun activity to kill time. She didn't know exactly what she was doing at the time, but she managed to win enough money playing $1-3 seven-card stud to get her hooked on the game. Within 6 months she'd picked up enough knowledge to move up to $15-30 games, where she continued to win.

After short stints as a blackjack and poker dealer in Vegas in the early 1980s, Violette took a trip to Lake Tahoe to enter a seven-card stud tournament. She not only played well, she won the entire tournament. Her $74,000 prize was the largest amount ever won by a woman at a poker tournament up to that point, and she gained a fair amount of notoriety after her win. She was even profiled in Playboy magazine (no, it wasn't a pictorial). It was at this point that Violette decided playing poker was much more lucrative than dealing, so she quit her job to try out the life of a professional poker player. She hasn't held a regular job since that day. Her winnings allowed her to move up from her regular $30-60 games to the newer $75-150 games in Vegas - which she beat just as consistently as she had the lower games.

As she continued crushing her opposition at every game she played, Violette fell in love with a fellow gambler. She married, moved to Washington state, and stepped away from the game for two years at her husband's request. At first she was happy with her life as a wife and mother, but as time went by she found herself itching to get back to the tables. A trip to Caesar's Palace in 1990 netted her $62,000 at the Super Bowl of Poker tournament - and along with that prize, the realization that her marriage was probably not destined to last. She continued to live in Washington but began to split her time between home, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles. Eventually she divorced her husband in 1993 and went back to playing poker full-time.

Her divorce and newfound freedom couldn't have come at a better time. Poker was legalized in Atlantic City in 1993, so Violette moved back east and set up shop at the Taj Mahal poker room. Like many others in the nascent Atlantic City poker scene, Violette cleaned up against competition that more often than not had very little experience at casino poker tables. After a successful summer, she returned the next spring and set up residence in nearby Absecon, where she still lives today. She spends a lot of time playing in Atlantic City but travels back and forth between there, Vegas, and L.A. - and when the World Series of Poker rolls around each year, you'll find her there for the duration of the event. She finally accomplished a long-standing goal of hers when she won a bracelet in seven-card stud hi-lo at the 2004 WSOP.

Violette currently ranks 7th on the all-time women's money list, with over $640,000 in lifetime winnings. She has cashed in 15 events at the WSOP since 1995, mostly in her specialty of seven-card stud. She has a knack for most varieties of poker, having won money in seven-card stud, stud hi-lo, limit hold'em, pot-limit hold'em, shorthanded and full-table no-limit hold'em, HORSE, and SHOE tournaments over the years. Very few players, male or female, sport the kind of resume Violette has. She attributes her success to maintaining a balance in her life - she spends half the week playing poker and the rest devoting time to her house and her passion for yoga and aromatherapy. It's hard to argue with her approach, given the great accolades she has enjoyed in recent years. 

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