Poker Legend Allen ‘Clever Piggy' Cunningham: The Greatest Player You’ve Never Heard OfDecember 29, 2010 8:30 am
Take a quick glance at poker’s ‘All Time Money List’ and you will see that Allen Cunningham is currently in 9th place with $10,945,147 in live tournament earnings.
The highly respected 33 year-old has been cashing in at tournaments since 1996, and is a 5 times WSOP winner with bracelets in Seven-card stud, No Limit Hold ’em and Pot Limit Hold’em. He’s also been voted by his peers as the ‘Best All Around Player under 35,’ and in 2006 was upgraded from a sponsored pro to a full member of Team Full Tilt.
However, unlike many other highly successful poker pros Allen Cunningham is a polite and softly-spoken player who has managed to avoid much of the media limelight reserved for more flamboyant celebrities. So just who is Allen Cunningham and how did he get started in his prospective poker career?
For a start the Californian said he was fascinated with poker from a very young age after countless games playing with his family at the kitchen table, but only decided to give the game his best shot after turning 18. He then goes on to explain that it was a slow progression and only after playing for a year did he begin seeing some solid wins.
“At that time, I was in my first year of college and also had a part time job delivering pizzas which I used to fund my poker. Eventually I won two tournaments in a row, which paid $500 each, then I stayed and played cash games and won another $1k. It wasn’t exactly quick but I never looked back from there.”
Allen Cunningham said he first cut his teeth playing limit poker, which was the game of choice in California at the time but played many of the other poker variants in order to sharpen his all round poker understanding.
Cunningham further developed his skills by studying poker literature and developing an overall strategy for different situations, although he said he started out by playing tightly and only added more looseness and aggression as he evolved as a player.
Evolve as a player Cunningham soon did as all the elements of his game came together and as he explains:
“When you’re at the table you’re using intuition. You’re not figuring out any sort of math or strategy; you have to think about that ahead of time…When you add some more sophisticated plays, you’ve probably thought about the maths behind a lot of situations and now you’re thinking about how some of the players are playing and incorporating a few tells and whether people are playing looser or tighter than normal.”
As mentioned, the list of Allen ‘Clever Piggy’ Cunningham’s poker achievements include almost $11 million in tournament winnings, and 5 WSOP bracelets, with his biggest score to date coming at the 2006 WSOP Main Event, where he finished 4th for $3,628,513.
However, the well grounded Cunningham said he doesn’t really suffer large downswings, or get involved in prop bets and is making enough money to stay away from the ultra high stakes cash games. He also said he isn’t drawn to the limelight and added:
“If an article says I’m best then I guess that makes me feel a little bit good. But I don’t need it. I’m the only one who knows exactly how good I am and what I can do with the game.”