Something you didn't know about... Adrienne 'talonchick' Rowsome
The mixed poker game specialist opens up about her passions for Twitch streaming and cooperative board gaming, and why hiring a personal chef has been one of her best-ever moves
Canadian Adrienne Rowsome has been grinding mixed games ever since she first tentatively sat down at a cash table in her local casino back in 2002. And it wasn't long before the newly qualified occupational therapist was "burning the candle at both ends" dividing her day between work and poker sessions that often ran into the early hours.
These days, the Team PokerStars Pro Online splits her time between raising her two young sons alongside husband Ryan and playing online poker from their home in Peachland in British Columbia, Canada. Adrienne recently took time out from a family vacation in Seattle to discuss more about her life both on and off the virtual felt.
What's the story behind your PokerStars screen name 'talonchick'?
My very first car was a 1992 Eagle Talon. It was my dad's car and it became mine second hand when I was 16. I loved that car - it was cherry red with a black roof and two doors, and it was manual transmission when not a lot of cars in North America are manuals. However, I would post in forums about engine modifications or fitting speakers and my screenname on these forums was talonchick. I eventually sold it and I became a BMW chick. Right now, I'm 'mini-van chick' but I may head back to BMW at some point.
How did you first discover poker?
It was in my last year of university that myself and one of my best friends would go to the casino a few times a year for an evening of fun. We would spend $50 and if we came out with a profit we were ecstatic because we'd had a free night. Poker started making an appearance in 2002 but my only real experience with poker beforehand was playing a version of five-card draw with my dad. I thought poker was super intimidating but I sat and watched the basics before deciding to play.
The only games you could find in the casino were ones where the top half of the hour you played fixed-limit hold'em and the bottom half of the hour was fixed-limit Omaha, so I was introduced to Omaha really early. It was pretty easy to be enamoured with Omaha as the pots involved mountains of chips. After I graduated I was burning the candle at both ends - working during the day and going to the casinos for six to eight hours at night. But I was 21 or 22 and I had the energy.
Some people may not know that you are a qualified occupational therapist. What exactly does the job entail?
It's such a great career. Occupational therapy is about giving people the skills or tools that they need to overcome whatever illness or disability they are facing. I primarily worked in hospitals in acute care settings, so for the most part I have been helping people to get home after injury or illness. It is about getting equipment in the home so that it's easier for them to bathe, get dressed or whatever is important to them. But there was also a period of time where I was working in the criminal justice system and rehabilitation where we would work towards things like writing a resume or practise human interaction. In fact, occupational therapy is so broad that you could meet 30 occupational therapists and not one would give you the exact same definition.
Are you still an occupational therapist?
I'm still licensed as an occupational therapist and I have worked enough hours in the last five years to maintain my licence. I have been an occupational therapist for 15 years, although the reason for the break is because I now have two young boys. I have Carrick who is three and a half, and Cian who is 14 months. I really love the unconventional lifestyle that poker lets me lead. In fact, people who watch me stream on Twitch see the kids coming in and out of the room all the time. I love being involved in their lives because being a parent is now my most important job.
How did you get involved with Twitch streaming and what's the appeal of playing poker for an online audience?
Twitch came onto my radar just over two years ago. I was nervous to begin with, though, because technology confounds me sometimes but I was willing to give it a try. I gave it a go and I actually enjoyed it. One of the things I love most is that as a mixed game player my stream breaks down one of the barriers to entry. Mixed games can be very intimidating and there is so much room to make mistakes and so much room to be confused. The greatest reward I get is when people come back to me and say, 'I would never have played this game if it wasn't for you' or 'we played a mixed game home game recently because I saw your stream and I won $70'. That is honestly close to winning the Sunday Million for me because I have such a passion for these games.
How often do you stream your online sessions?
I stream 18-25 hours a week on Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays. And I will probably add another day in the new year. On top of that, I probably play a couple of hours most days once the kids have gone to bed. I play a couple of tournaments just to unwind; I like to sit quietly and play. I also recently attended [Twitch streaming conference] TwitchCon in California and it was great to see how vast the Twitch community is these days. It was also a great way to recharge your batteries and see all of these streamers who are so excited and passionate about their games.
When not playing poker do you enjoy other competitive 'mind games'?
I play a lot of competitive and cooperative board games with my husband, Ryan. Our top games right now are Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective, Pandemic and The Dresden Files. I definitely enjoy playing cooperative games because I spend so much of my day in competitive gaming arenas that when it comes to relaxing I really like the cooperative games. I think it would be a lot of fun to stream cooperative games because the chat viewers would be able to engage with it and literally play along as well.
What else do you get up to in your spare time?
We have been travelling around a little bit lately because my family lives away. My mother is in Edmonton and my dad is in Dublin, while my in-laws are in New York and Seattle. But we just enjoy new experiences and I'm inspired by Carrick's curiosity and his consistent pursuit for answers. Like most toddlers, 'why' is his favourite question. The way he is really engaged and wants to know the answer has reinvigorated my desire to learn. He also watches me play poker and recently he was spontaneously calling clubs shamrocks.
Do you still play slo-pitch softball?
I do. I play in a league in Peachland. It's always nice to be out in the early spring, although the games are on Sundays and that is such a big poker day. For those who don't know what slo-pitch softball is, we have four girls and six guys on the field and the ball has to be thrown at a trajectory where the height of the pitch is somewhere in the window of six to 12 feet and the ball has to land on home plate. The ball is grapefruit-sized, which makes it harder to hit far. But the game plays the same as baseball for the most part.
I hear that you practice meditation. What benefits does this bring to your poker game and your overall wellbeing?
Yes, meditation is always something that I like to do when I find the time. In terms of my mental game, I work with a hypnotherapist and that has been a huge help to me. Poker can be really difficult, especially if you play tournament poker because even if you finish second or third or fourth you can look back with a sense of pride, yet at the time you feel a sense of loss because you miss out on winning or getting that trophy. That feeling of loss can be detrimental to your game and your sense of wellbeing.
In the last few months we decided to really simplify our lives as well as focus on our mind sets. As part of this, we have a personal chef who buys our groceries, cooks our dinners and leaves us enough leftovers for lunches. We were eating out a couple of times of week because we couldn't decide what to have and because we wanted something healthy for the kids. Now, though, that stress is gone and we are eating healthy. It sounds unattainable but we have been really impressed with how affordable it has been, which is amazing.