The World Series of Poker Main Event spotlight can bring players to their knees deep on Day 6. A cloud of millions becomes a burden next to the cameras and television crew documenting the journey. Clayton Fletcher’s stage in New York City is where he thrives and he’s added a new show in Las Vegas, NV to his repertoire.
Hey, no pressure
The stand-up comedian is not sweating in the face of money that would change anyone’s life; he’s shining.
During an all-in for his tournament life, Fletcher quipped back and forth with his table during his time in the tank.
Rifat Palevic told Fletcher “You put a lot of pressure on me,” and Fletcher didn’t miss a beat when he responded, “My psychiatrist says the same thing.”
“I just kind of rely on my theater and performing arts background,” Fletcher said on keeping the Main Event jitters away. “I’ve been in a lot of high-pressure situations in my life and I think they’ve prepared me for this. Having been almost here before kind of prepared me for the experience. I believe that if I play well, I have a chance to win the whole thing. I know that people here are better players than I am so that takes away a lot of pressure, too.”
Fletcher says he is used to being in relative situations that come with stress. Talent scouts from The Tonight Show being in the crowd during a set and auditioning for leading roles give Fletcher mental strain. Those items impact his professional career. Poker is for fun, despite the windfall he stands less than five tables from attaining.
“I’ve been in a lot of high-pressure situations in my life and I think they’ve prepared me for this,” Fletcher explained. “Having been almost here before kind of prepared me for the experience. I believe that if I play well, I have a chance to win the whole thing. I know that people here are better players than I am so that takes away a lot of pressure, too.”
Second chances don’t come often
2018 marks the second time this decade Fletcher’s been given a chance to make good on a deep Main Event run. After finishing in 96th place in 2015, Fletcher is thrilled to have the opportunity to fight for the best prize in the game once again.
“It’s really awesome. I made the top 100 and that was really fun. I never really thought I’d be back three years later to do it again and it’s been great.”
The standard reasoning of “running good” is not what Fletcher credits for his run thus far. The active personality he contains has organically manifested at social tables. By sheer luck of the draw, Fletcher claims to have been surrounded by talkative players who fit into what makes him comfortable.
“That’s my style. I don’t like those really quiet, serious tables.”
“It’s not really a strategy, I’m not putting anyone on tilt or whatever,” Fletcher said of the table talk. “I’m just having fun. For me, I can make my decision while having a conversation and I’m extroverted so I’d rather have it out loud.”
A chance for a standing ovation
Fletcher is the first to admit that he’s far from the best player left in the field but he uses the outlook of being a recreational player to his advantage. The pay jumps of five-figures soon to be six are not of a concern. He observes players at his table looking at the tournament clock for the next payout. Those details do not concern him.
“For some of my opponents, the pressure is mounting in a way that isn’t for me. For me, I’m trying to play my best in each hand and don’t care that much about where I place. My job is to play my best. The poker gods have the rest in their corner.”
On dinner break of Day 6, Fletcher has a career-best score of at least $189,165 locked up. There is a mile to go until the $1 million final table bubble and Fletcher is preparing himself now for when that moment comes.
Now on the feature table, expect to see Fletcher’s loose vibe on display contrast to the stress wearing on the face of those still in.
There are many hoodies still in the Main Event but only one leather jacket.
“I am playing for first place, I don’t really care about climbing the money ladder as much as some of my opponents do, perhaps because I have another source of income. I’m thinking about accumulating a big stack so I can be a favorite to win at the final table.”