Playing the odds job

Glendale transplant's resume includes: actor, wrestler, stripclub bouncer. Today, he's playing poker to make ends meet.

July 07, 2010|By Liana Aghajanian, Special to the News-Press

Scott Barrows is anything but your typical professional poker player. Staying steer clear of drinking, smoking and even the club scene, he'd rather concentrate on the game at hand.

Even Las Vegas, the city that lures fame seekers and high rollers, ultimately couldn't hold his interest. And while his foray into the world of flushes and full houses was purely accidental, he's stayed true to a promise he made himself as a teenager — making enough money to live life on his own terms.

A recent Glendale transplant hailing from Denver, Barrows, 34, has pocketed some serious winnings in the last few years, including his best yet — a $40,050 win in May in the Cal State Poker Championships that landed him in third place in a competition with 3,000 participants. His total winnings waver somewhere in the high six figures, he said. Despite his success, he maintains that he doesn't care too much for money.


"There's a line they say in poker: To be a good poker player you have to be at anytime willing to whip out a $100 bill and light it on fire," Barrows said.

Not one to shy away from risk, Barrows' relatively recent achievements don't reflect the years he spent perfecting his poker skills and hustling to make ends meet, working odd jobs — strip club bouncer in Las Vegas, an actor in Los Angeles, which earned him a spot on "Two and a Half Men," and even office work at an adult video company, where he saw more than he bargained for.

Before poker however, Barrows, who stands at 7 feet tall and considers himself "un-hirable," found successful work as a wrestler.

"I'm a bit of a giant, so a guy I met in a bar told me that if I got into wrestling, I could make some serious money," he said.

Though he made his way through the ring for six years and had almost made it big, the 2001 collapse of the industry after the World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc., created a monopoly in the wrestling business with mergers, left him reevaluating his life.

It was then that Barrows turned to play professional poker full time.

"I heard you could make a living doing it, and I was like 'that's the gig right?' so I kept at it," he said.

But it took quite a while before Lady Luck was on his side.

"It was terrible, I used to lose every single day, for like a year," he said. I didn't win for probably 100 trips."

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