There are several milestone moments in the career of a poker player. Finding a group of poker friends, that would be one. Winning your first tournament, there’s another. Going on your first poker trip, that’s a big step.
Kalidou Sow ticked off another one at the European Poker Tour (EPT) stop in Monte Carlo this week: sticking on a PokerStars Ambassador patch for the first time at a major live event.
After the announcement of Sow joining Team PokerStars was made on April 10, it was clear that Frenchman’s big unveiling would take place in Monaco (almost home soil, but not quite).
“My first stop as a PokerStars Ambassador has been amazing,” Sow tells us midway through Day 2 of the €5,300 Main Event. “Wearing the patch for the first time, it’s been incredible, and the relationship between the other ambassadors is fantastic too.”
Unfortunately for Sow, who found himself sat up on the feature table with a 45,000 stack to start the day, he busted within the first level. You can watch how that played out below:
Sow may have said goodbye from the Main Event, but he’s been saying hello to just about everything and everyone else this week. From organised meet and greets to local players hailing him a hero, this trip has been non-stop for the 38-year-old.
“The reaction of the French players to me here in Monaco has been surprising, but it makes me very happy,” he says.
Born in Paris, where he still lives with his wife and two children (both boys, aged 7 and 3), Sow balances his family life with one as a globetrotting poker sensation.
“I really want to play poker as much as possible at the moment because volume in poker is the best answer to variance,” he says. “But I’m also a father, and I have to manage my family life too. These past few years, though, I’ve wanted to grind as much as I can.
What does a normal day look like in the life of Sow?
“My wife takes the kids to school in the morning, and I bring them home in the afternoon. I spoil them to compensate for the times when I have to be away. I don’t know if that’s a good thing to do, but I do it anyway, so who cares,” he says. “But when I’m at home, I really like to stay at home. My wife actually has to tell me to go out and see friends or whatever. But I just like being at home with them, that’s an ideal day in my life.”
When Sow took down the PokerStars Festival London Main Event for £121,803 and a Platinum Pass to the PSPC back in January 2018 (just one month after winning the PokerStars Championship Prague Main Event for €675,000), he told us that his wife didn’t normally accompany him on poker trips. “She always wants to come with me to events and I say ‘No, no, no.’ But OK! You can come with me to the PCA, my dear,” he said at the time.
The Bahamas and the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA) was always going to be different.
“She loved the Bahamas, obviously. My kids were there too. We visited some of the islands and went to the beach, but as I was playing a lot I didn’t get as much time with them. Even so, she really enjoyed her time at the PCA,” he says.
Sow has previously stated that it’s his kids who make him the man he is today. But are they aware of what their old man actually does?
“My oldest son already knows and understands what it is I do for a living,” Sow says. “When my son is at school and people ask him what his dad does for a job, he tells them: ‘He’s a poker champion.’ So he knows. He plays with cards and chips at home, so he’s into it already.”
How would Sow react if they wanted to follow in dad’s footsteps and pursue poker when they were old enough?
“What’s most important is that I just want my kids to be happy,” he says. “My whole life I’ve been chasing money. I don’t want that for my kids. I just want them to be happy and to do what they want. I’ll always be there for them. Whatever job they decide they’d like to do, I’ll be happy for them if they are happy. I want them to follow their passion.
“I was raised in a difficult neighbourhood outside of Paris,” he continues. “There was violence, a lot of drug issues. I didn’t like it. We didn’t have holidays or anything. I would say I’ve had a good life, but not an easy one. I’m doing everything I can for my kids to have a better life than I had.”
Everything Kalidou Sow has done in his life has led him to Monaco for EPT Monte Carlo. But thinking back to when he was a youngster playing on the streets of Paris, what did he make of Monaco? Did he ever think he’d end up here one day?
“Monaco was considered an unreachable place. It was only for the rich, certainly not for me, or anyone I knew,” he says. “Now, being able to come to Monaco every year and play big tournaments for a living…it’s just amazing.”
Another milestone ticked off. ✓
Interview conducted with help from Henri Frey of PokerStarsBlog.fr.