On the Button: with poker pro Tom Schneider

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Tom Schneider is a 54-year-old CPA and pro poker player who won two WSOP titles and POY in 2007. He came back to win two bracelets again last summer, taking down both HORSE events. He also works part time as the CFO of Loudmouth Golf, an apparel company, and has recorded several country-western songs. Our Big Dave Lemmon talked to Tom recently on Poker Action Line.

Tell us about your state of mind going into the World Series last summer. Were you targeting the two HORSE events? I think the truth is that no one can target events that you are going to win or do well in. When I won my first bracelet in stud/8, I was telling someone beforehand, “I hate stud/8!” He said to just go play it and he would put up 50 percent for half of the winnings. So I said no and went out and played it and won.

I think I play the game well, but I just can’t stand it, because it’s so boring. I feel my best games are the mixed games. I can play NLHE, but the fields are so huge and I really don’t want to concentrate that long.
I also feel the better players tend to get to the final table in mixed games because they are limit games and it’s just easier to guide your way through.

You’re part of an apparel company called Loudmouth Golf, a company whose pants are worn by the golfer John Daly on the PGA Tour. How did you get associated with the company? I was going to the WSOP in 2010, and I called the CEO and told him since they had no representation in poker; I wanted to wear Loudmouth at the series.

They agreed, and when they found out I was also an accountant, I worked into a part-time consulting position as a chief financial officer with the company and I still get to play some poker and do some other things.

How has your life changed since last summer? Honestly, not a whole lot; it’s kind of strange … when I won POY in 2007, it was right after the UIGEA was passed, so the sponsorship dollars dried up, and I didn’t really get any deals then. Other than having a little bit more money, nothing has changed. I feel like you want me to say that my life has changed dramatically, but it hasn’t.

Well, I’m just wondering. You’ve been invited to play in the Poker Night in America shows. Would that have happened if you hadn’t won two bracelets? I think it would have, because I have a good friendship with Nolan Dalla and he knows that I am fairly entertaining and while I tend to take things very seriously at the big tournaments, I can be funny when I need to be.

Are you going to play more poker in the coming year? And what about your hobby as a country singer? Well, I have written about 10 songs and recorded seven or eight of them, and I’ve just learned to play guitar in the last couple of years. It’s really a passion of mine and I love country music and writing songs, so I’ll spend time doing that. My days are pretty full, but I do plan on playing in the World Series this summer and maybe travel to a few other events before that.

Now that you’re considered a mixed-game expert, what advice would you have for people trying to improve their play in those? I think one of the most important things is to understand what the other players think is their best game. For instance, I see hold’em players that will widen their ranges to play more hands in the games they feel they play best, entering pots too often. I know my own strengths and weaknesses, so I try to not play tighter or looser, but based on how my opponents will be playing a certain game.

In closing, we hope to see that black-and-white jacket that looks like a cow at a final table this summer. I’ll be there playing and maybe a few other places as well this year. I miss the competitive side of poker.