H.O.R.S.E. winner riding high in his own country song

In 2007, Tom Schneider was at the top of the poker world. By 2011, he was at the bottom working his way back.

That’s how cruel the cards can be. The 53-year-old certified public accountant from Scottsdale, Ariz., felt like his life was a country song. So he actually went and wrote one last year — “Kick My Own Ass” — that chronicled his fall from grace as a poker pro.

It’s the tale of someone who made his money at the poker table, used it to start a business, watched the business tank, then had to reload financially and begin the long climb back up the ladder.

“I’d love to show it to Garth Brooks,” Schneider said Monday. “I’ve written a bunch of songs. I recently wrote one about Sandy Hook (Conn.) called ‘Just Another Day.’ I love it. It’s very therapeutic. If I could make a living writing music, I’d do it.”

At that moment, that won’t be necessary. Schneider’s pockets were a bit more full Sunday after his victory in the $1,500 entry H.O.R.S.E. tournament at the World Series of Poker at the Rio. He won $258,960 and his third WSOP gold bracelet.

Now Schneider hopes to get on a roll that will carry him to the Main Event final table Nov. 4. Since turning pro in 2002, he has cashed 29 times for a total of $1,179,073.

“You have to have the breaks at the right time,” Schneider said. “I knew when I sat down Sunday that I was going to win this final table because I followed the procedures and I could tell that I was in control.”

His wisdom, patience and experience served him well during the three-day limit event which is an amalgamation of Texas Hold ’Em, Omaha High-Low Split 8-or-better, Razz, Seven-Card Stud and Seven-Card Stud High-Low Split 8-or-better.

“You can’t be good in just two or three games and win,” he said. “There are so many traps a player can fall into. It takes a lot of different skills to win.”

Schneider’s wife, Julie, who also plays professionally, reached the final table in another event — the $2,500 Omaha High-Low Split 8-or-better, which ended June 2 — making them one of the few husband-wife duos to make it to a WSOP final table in the same year.

“That was pretty special,” Schneider said. “She’s a pretty good player in her own right.”

Schneider is from an era of poker that pre-dates the Internet and the WSOP being a staple on ESPN. He’s seen the game grow, and not always for the better.

“I wish people were more respectful of each other, of the dealers and of the game,” Schneider said. “I try to treat every player with respect, especially the bad players. And I treat every dealer with respect. They all have a job. They’re trying.

“I get so tired of people being mean at the table or picking on people. It makes the game less fun, and that’s why I wasn’t playing as much because I didn’t enjoy the environment.”

While Schneider was regrouping at the poker table, he was also regrouping as a businessman. He started Loudmouth Golf, a sportswear company that has PGA Tour veteran John Daly as one of its clients.

“There’s a lot of similarities between golf and poker,” Schneider said. “Golf is a game about yourself and so is poker. You have to think ahead in both games and focus on the present. You have to be patient and respectful. But the most important thing where golf and poker are similar is controlling yourself.”

Schneider is hoping Sunday’s win can get him going. There are a lot of hands to be dealt at the Rio in the coming weeks, and he would like to build on his current success. On Monday, he was back at it, playing in an Omaha tournament that runs through Wednesday.

“I was running bad for a while, and there’s nothing worse than when you’re playing full-time running bad,” he said. “It can really get you down. But the World Series of Poker is the one event I look forward to, and I’m committed to this.”

At worst, he can get another song out of it.

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.