Interview: K L Cleeton talks solvers, vans, and the 2021 WSOP

Jon Pill
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Posted on: June 29, 2021 12:44 am EDT

It’s been a big month for K. L. Cleeton.

Veronica Brill‘s GoFundMe to finance an accessible vehicle for him came to fruition earlier at the start of the month.

He took delivery of the vehicle this weekend. It was perfect timing as the World Series Of Poker finally firmed up its 2021 schedule. It’s all coming together for a triumphant return to Vegas.

On top of all this, his work with Range Trainer Pro is ramping up as the company preps for the release of a post-flop solver in the next few months.

I spoke with K. L. earlier this month to chat about what the van means to him, his hopes for the WSOP, and how his work with Range Trainer Pro is bringing poker solvers to the everyman.

Getting to Vegas

When I spoke with K. L. for this piece, he was still looking at vehicle options online. There were a series of practical hurdles to overcome before they settled on the Chevy Traverse.

“It takes about three months to convert the vehicle to the point where they can say, ‘look it’s got a ramp.’ So we’re pretty limited to what they have in stock.”

Cleeton was diagnosed as a child with spinal muscular atrophy. This condition results in paralysis without loss of sensation from below the neck. When first diagnosed, the prognosis was poor. Many children with severe SMA do not make it past the age of two. K. L. beat those odds.

He does have to use an electronic wheelchair to get around. It’s a bulky piece of equipment and it’s not the only tech he has to cart around when he travels.

“We needed to make sure that we can tow a small trailer for all my stuff,” he said about choosing the Traverse. “There’s quite a lot of it. Accessible vans, you can’t tow anything. So we have had to look at SUVs.”

The WSOP schedule

Having found a vehicle that serves the purpose and could be delivered in a reasonable time frame, the next question was whether he was going to make it to the 2021 WSOP. The odds look good.

“That is definitely the plan,” was K. L.’s response. “I’m super lucky in that I am part of a stable.”

“My good friend Ryan [LaPlante] has been like ‘Dude, we got to get you out here for a live schedule,’ and I’d be like ‘I don’t have a vehicle.’ I don’t really have that excuse anymore.”

“We’ll be spending a lot of time working out just where we can stay. From what I’ve been seeing, they’re booked up, even this far out. And it’s not like we can just rent an Airbnb. We need significant accommodations. Just for restroom and showers and things like that, basic everyday stuff that most people don’t have to think about.”

Donating chips

While getting to play live for the first time in years is a thrilling prospect, Cleeton is also excited about finally getting to meet various members of the poker community he talks to “literally every day,” but has yet to meet in person.

“Obviously, I’m really excited to grind and play because first and foremost that’s what I love,” he says. “But I’m also really excited about having those off days and being able to have dinner and drinks and meet up with everybody. I look forward to meeting them and thanking them [for the van] as I’m taking their chips.”

As anyone who follows K. L. online might expect, the interview is full of irreverent jokes.

“I’ve never actually met Veronica in person,” he says at one point. “I’m not even convinced Veronica is Veronica. She’s probably some seventy-year-old obese dude.”

Cleeton and Brill

How did Brill and Cleeton originally come into each other’s orbit?

“She was doing her show, the original YouTube show. I just retweeted one of the episodes, I don’t even remember who the interview was with. She just sent me a message out of the blue. ‘Hey, thanks for the re-tweet.’ And me, being the narcissistic shill that I am, I said: ‘No problem, how would you like to have me on to talk about Range Trainer Pro?'”

It was Brill who put together the roast that tipped the scale for the GoFundMe. She was working hard to help get the van funded even as she dealt with Postlegate.

The event exceeded all expectations, shocking Cleeton with the poker world’s generosity.

“There are two cash game players — I’ve never spoken to them, but they dropped five grand each. Everyone was very generous with their time and with their platforms. […] Johnny [Moreno] made a massive donation. But he used his platform too. It takes a lot when you’re a public person to put your name on something.”

Range Trainer Pro

The conversation then turned to Cleeton’s other projects. In particular his work with Range Trainer Pro.

“It’s all in the vein of expanding the game, making the game more democratized.” He laughs. “I used to say ‘accessible.'”

“I want to make solvers — and all the stuff that GTO wants to do — available to the masses,” he explains. “At the moment, you have to be either very good with the solver — which is a pain in the ass, they are not intuitive at all. Or they are so insanely expensive for something that is intuitive that there’s too high a barrier to entry.”

“Our pre-flop tool is so lightweight you can use it on your phone. Our post-flop tool will be too. We’re looking at launching the post-flop tool in August. We’re gonna be the cheapest product on the market by a large margin.”

Hate speech

There is a flip side to being a recognizable name and face in poker. I asked K. L. about an incident from a few months ago where a Twitter user got into an ableist altercation with Cleeton.

“There’s all sorts of close-mindedness that manifests itself live and online in the game,” he explains.

“That stuff never bothers me. But what I do think is important is that it is amplified. Like a lot of the time, you’ll see me retweet stuff like that along with a joke. […] My point isn’t that this stuff is bad, which it is. My point is more that this is happening. And it is happening a lot more than you think. Maybe if we call this stuff out it will change things.”

There’s a short pause before he adds in a dour tone, “Hopefully.” It’s the first time in the interview that he’s sounded remotely pessimistic about something.

Featured image source: Twitter