Poker has a well-earned reputation as one of the most iconic and competitive card and casino games in history. Not only have millions of players enjoyed the challenge and thrill of playing poker, but its illustrious past is filled with legendary moments from iconic players who have risen to become champions among the game’s passionate following. From the early saloon tables with cowboys and criminals to the high-stakes Las Vegas rooms where today’s superstars battle for multi-million dollar prize pools, poker’s competitive scene has come a long way. Tournaments like the World Series Of Poker (WSOP) are a testament to poker’s staying power and status as an enduring pastime. With all these merits, it’s no surprise that poker continues to draw players from all walks of life who strive for glory.

T.J. Cloutier is an American pro poker player from Richardson, Texas. He is well-known for his tournament career, boasting six World Series of Poker bracelets and 69 WSOP in-the-money finishes. Despite having never won the WSOP Main Event, he is a two-time runner-up and he has made it to a WSOP final table an impressive 39 times.

He’s a well-rounded poker player, earning the title of ‘Player of the Year’ by Card Player magazine in 1998 and 2002.

He is the only person in history to win bracelets for all three variants of Omaha featured in the WSOP: Pot Limit High, Limit High and Limit 8-or-Better High-low Split.

T.J.’s total tournament winnings exceed $10 million, and he was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in 2006.

Early Life

Thomas James Cloutier was born in Albany, California, on October 13, 1939. He attended the University of California on a sports scholarship, playing football and baseball. Most notably, he played in the 1959 Rose Bowl, the 45th edition of the iconic college football tournament.

Due to his family’s financial struggles, he dropped out of college and was later drafted into the army, which he took as an opportunity to provide support. He discovered poker during his time in service. After the completion of his duties, he played professional football for the Montreal Alouettes and the Toronto Argonauts. Sadly, he incurred a career-ending knee injury, changing his career path once again, leading him to start a food company which was unfortunately, not successful. Cloutier moved to Texas, where he was working on an oil rig and would play poker on his days off. Noticing that he earned more at cards than at his actual job, he eventually quit the rig to pursue poker as a career.

Poker Career

Cloutier specializes in tournament poker, profiting from over 70 cashes in the WSOP along with six bracelets. He won his first bracelet in 1987 at the $1,000 Limit Omaha event. Two more followed in 1994 at $1,500 Limit Omaha 8 or Better and $2,500 Pot Limit Hold’em. His third bracelet was won at the 1998 Pot Limit Omaha event, in 2004 he was the last player at the Seven Card Razz tournament, and his final bracelet was at the 2005 $5,000 No Limit Hold’em event. His largest win to date was a second-place finish at the WSOP main event in 2000, where he earned $896,000. With all of these wins and money finishes, he has earned over $4.7 million just from the WSOP.

Cloutier’s career was not limited to the World Series of Poker, as he proved in 1990 with an awe-inspiring tournament run. Back then, there were only three events a year with a buy-in of more than $10,000. The first was the Diamond Jim Brady Tournaments, hosted annually at the Los Angeles Bicycle Casino. Cloutier dominated this event three years in a row, winning the event from 1990 to 1992. He had another big win at Amarillo Slim’s Super Bowl of Poker, where Cloutier defeated Stu Ungar, one of the best poker players of all time, and Jack Keller. Over that year Cloutier had claimed victory over two of the three biggest tournaments, only missing out on the championship in the WSOP Main Event.

Cloutier has also participated in tournaments such as The World Poker Tour, making a showing at the main event’s final table in 2003 and 2004.

T.J. Cloutier has also written five books about poker, including How To Win The Championship: Hold’em Strategies For The Final Table and Championship Tournament Practice Hands, co-authored by Tom McEvoy.


In addition to his storied poker career, T.J. Cloutier is also known as a notorious craps gambler. In 2006, a fellow poker player, Terrance Chan, wrote on his blog, “T.J. has lost more money at craps than possibly any human being alive. Obviously, he’s just a poor craps player, and one should bet against him, not with him.”