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Calen McNeil – Canada’s Favorite Omaha Star

March 16 Sandra Wong

Calen McNeil is so famous!

2013 World Series of Poker

I still remember the exact moment I met Calen McNeil in the poker room at Edgewater Casino in Vancouver BC. He probably doesn’t know that I remember all this, but he was wearing a black t-shirt that read “I’m Famous” on it. It was my first mixed tourney I ever played, No Limit Hold’em / Omaha Hi-Lo, and it was the first year I ever played open poker tournaments live. Needless to say, I didn’t know who was a pro or not, but Calen McNeil had a star quality like face (smiley & unique), and he sat with such confidence (yes, this is a thing!) and my first impression was that he must have been a pro.  I even remember asking him, “Are you famous?” His answer was modest, and jokingly “But of course”. Well now Calen can definitely answer, “Why, yes, Sandra, I’m famous!”  because as his shirt predicted a half a decade early, Calen McNeil would be cemented in poker history forever. When I busted the event, I was a bit bummed, and Calen offered me kind words to let me know that I did good for my first mixed event and that I should keep playing. You don’t get many poker players that care about your poker journey, but when you find ones that do care, well you should become friends with them!

In 2013, Calen McNeil finally got what’s due to his hard work and dedication to poker at the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, where he took home a bracelet. This is the first heads-up bracelet event I ever railed, and I feel so blessed to be a part of his moment with the so many great players from Vancouver. Here is the moment caught by one of the WSOP’s media cameras, and a few notable poker names in Calen’s rail include Matt Jarvis, Jeremy Howe, Alex Bylicki, Chris Back, Ash Razavi, Darren Kennedy.

Calen mcNeil Omaha WSOP Champion Poker

Over the years, I have gotten to know Calen on a more personal level. I never had the chance to thank you Calen for taking such good care of me at PCA, for making sure I had lots of laughs and never an empty cup. Most importantly though, the one thing I want the world to know about Calen McNeil is that through all the highs and lows of the world of professional poker, Calen has always remained down-to-earth, kind & humble. He truly has a championship mentality, and makes me so proud to be a Canadian poker player.

calen-mcneil-pca-sandra-wong-canada poker players
Calen & I having some good times with a local in the Bahamas, waiting for a boat to take us back to Atlantis.

So let’s chat with Calen McNeil!

Calen tells us that he’s been playing competitive poker since 2004 and won a WSOP Bracelet in Omaha Hi-Lo in 2013 with a field size of 1014, “…this event I  came 4th in the same event in 2014 in a field of 1034. Omaha is my best game but have results in No Limit Holdem as well. Mixed games are what I’m specializing in now.”

1) Favorite Food to eat while playing?  I like to eat Salads when playing.

2) Drink of Choice? Love Red Wine but have been known to drink Captain and Coke

3) Favorite City/Poker room to play in / Place to Play? Why?  The Rio … I run good at the WSOP

4) Favorite Poker Hand?  AA .. or suited connectors are fun to play..

5) Favorite Player/mentors?  Really like what Daniel Negraneu does for the game but got to love Mike McDonald’s game

6) Good luck charms?  A little superstitious but no specific charms

7) Give us your #1 tip to share with other players?  Try to put your opponents on a range of hands and play your best against that range.

8) Recommended books? & Favorite Authors. Want to read Chris Moormans book and liked Jonathan Littles books

9) Do you play online? Where? I Play on Play-Now in BC and PokerStars everywhere but the States 🙁

10) Favorite Game? Omaha 8 OB baby!

11) Biggest Personal Poker Achievement so far. Coming 4th in 2014 WSOP event after winning the same event the year before !

12) What are you working on right now in your game or life?  Working on my mixed games because a lot of people know how to play Holdem

13) Where will we be seeing you next in the live scene? Any future poker plans?  Playing the WPT Deepstacks in Edmonton and Calgary then WSOP 

Want to know more about Calen? You can connect with Calen McNeil on Twitter @BigwheelMcNeil


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