Under The Gun: Inside the mind of Clayton Fletcher

Mo Afdhal
Published by:
Posted on: January 27, 2024 7:15 am EST

Poker player, stand-up comedian, podcast host, Twitch streamer, actor, author, commentator…it’s fair to say that Clayton Fletcher likes to keep busy.

Few among us would be as comfortable hosting their own Amazon Prime stand-up special as they would be playing for millions at the World Series of Poker, but then few of us have the wide range of skills possessed by this New York native.

Fletcher has notched up an impressive tournament poker resume, including several deep runs in the WSOP Main Event and a final table appearance playing Omaha at last summer’s World Series. Fletcher currently hosts a dedicated MTT strategy podcast and appears regularly on numerous radio shows, poker streams and comedy stages around the world.

What’s one bit of essential prep you do before a big tournament or cash game session?

“Before any poker session, I like to go outside. Poker is typically played indoors with zero hope of sunlight, and science has basically proven we’re supposed to be exposed to that giant fireball every single day. I find that even a few minutes of sun on the morning of a tournament helps me focus and feel sharper for longer. It improves my mood and brightens my spirit to let the sunshine in.”

What piece of strategy advice did you get when you first started playing that you wish you had ignored?

“Early poker books will make you laugh now that the robots have solved our beloved game. Early on, multiple authors told us, ‘the biggest mistake you can make is to give your opponent a free card to beat you.’ This simply isn’t true. There are countless mistakes that are way worse than not charging someone to hit a flush draw!

“I used to overbet every time I thought my opponent was chasing something, hoping to elicit a fold. Now I know much of my profit comes from those bad calls, so I root for one of them instead.”

Poker player and comedian Clayton Fletcher poses with fans of cash
Bad calls ftw

What’s the dumbest thing you’ve seen or done at the poker table?

“The dumbest thing I’ve seen was in a cash game at The Jack in Cleveland.

“A very drunk gentleman was viciously berating the dealer, who notified the floor supervisor, who brought casino security with him to our table. The boss said, ‘My dealer tells me you’ve been rude.’ The drunk man replied, ‘Well f**k him and f**k you too!’ He then picked up a green chip from another player’s stack and put it into his mouth.

“I can’t imagine getting drunk enough to get banned from a casino and contract a bacterial infection at the same time. Now that’s next-level dumb!”

What’s your most memorable hand?

“In 2018 I was chip leader in the WSOP Main Event, late on Day Five. I moved to a new table and promptly bluffed off half my stack to a player who I didn’t know hates folding. Then, with the ESPN cameras on us, I got into another confrontation with this same player in which, for some reason, he refused to look at the flop.

“I decided to have some fun and asked him whether I should tell him what the cards were so that he could continue staring at me, and he nodded. This continued on the turn and river, him staring at me intensely and never looking at the cards, instead waiting for me to tell him what they were as he tried to peer deep into my soul.

“How did he even know I was telling him the truth? I knew I had him beat and just when I thought he was about to fold on the river, I mentioned that I’m a trained actor (true story, btw). He seemed intrigued by this and called me once more, but this time I had the nuts! That’s a hand I’ll never forget.”

What’s your single best piece of advice for poker players?

“If you don’t enjoy the game at least 95% of the time when you play, win or lose, do something else with your time.

“There is a lot of heartache in poker, and you don’t want to end up one of those grumpy old guys at the table complaining about running bad all the time. Find a better hobby or career path because this is not for you.

“But if, like me, you love the strategy, psychology, math and gambling involved in the poker life, do your best to play your best and keep a smile on your face, no matter what.”

If you owned a poker room, who’s the first player you’d want to sign as an ambassador and why?

“I would choose Jacki Burkhart! I’ve played with her a few times and I think she’s got the best attitude of anyone in the game. Also, she has great ideas on ways to make the game more fun. What poker needs is ambassadors who actually have personality and Jacki definitely fits the bill. Plus, she can sing!”

Images courtesy of Clayton Fletcher