PokerStars today unveiled Kalidou Sow as the newest recruit to the most prestigious poker team on the planet. It is the latest step on a long journey for the 38-year-old, starting from humble upbringings in Paris, France. Here we look back on how Sow got here, and how he managed to wow the poker world during his rise to the top.

Kalidou Sow timeline:

  • December 2, 1980: Born Paris, France.
  • Early life: Takes up basketball at age 5 and dreams of becoming a professional, but an injury sustained during a game reduces mobility and rules out chances of becoming an elite athlete. Instead works a number of jobs, including as the owner of a VIP car rental business, before transitioning into the renewable energy sector. During this period, suffers life-threatening injuries and third-degree burns in a car accident while driving home from a nightclub.
  • 2011-12: Learns poker in home games with friends and begins to play cash games in Paris casinos. Eventually transitions to tournaments.
  • March 2013: Records first major tournament cash, finishing eighth in €1,800 High Roller tournament at Marrakech Open, Morocco.
  • June 2013: Visits Las Vegas during World Series of Poker time, cashes once in Wynn Classic $500 event.
  • January 2014: Records first cash on PokerStars France Poker Series (FPS) in Deauville.
  • February 2015: Records first five-figure tournament score, finishing second in €800 FPS Deepstack event in Deauville for €14,590.
  • December 2015: Wins €72,000 for third place in FPS Main Event at Enghien-les-Bains, Paris.
  • June 2016: First outright tournament win, in €500 event at Barierre Poker Tour, Toulouse.
  • December 2016: Wins Belgian Poker Challenge High Roller in Namur for €41,460.
  • December 2017: Wins PokerStars Championship Prague Main Event, beating Jason Wheeler heads up and taking €675,000 after two-way deal.
  • January 2018: Wins PokerStars Festival London Main Event for £121,803 and Platinum Pass to PokerStars Players Championship (PSPC).
  • February 2018: Wins Winamax Poker Tour High Roller in Paris, for €100,000, his third consecutive major tournament title.
  • January 2019: Leads Team France to the PSPC €25,000 Main Event in the Bahamas, won by fellow PokerStars ambassador Ramon Collilas.
  • April 2019: Joins Team PokerStars Pro.

Kalidou Sow in his own words

On his upbringing: “I didn’t grow up in very easy conditions. My competitive spirit, plus the environment where I grew up, that mix has made me who I am. I knew from a young age that if I wanted something, I had to get it myself.”

On his car accident: “My life was different then. It was a time when I was a bit crazy. I was coming back from a club, I fell asleep at the wheel and ended up rolling. I was very lucky. I got third degree burns. It could have been much worse.”

On his maturity: “The impact of the accident made me think. Inevitably it changed me. I was crazier before, now I am more measured.”

On fatherhood: “I think that it has changed my life more than my accident. I think that’s what makes me the man I am today.”

On cash vs. tournament poker: “Cash games suit me less because I don’t see the point. I’m a competitor. I prefer tournaments.”

Sow rises to the top in Prague

On PokerStars Championship Prague success: “It’s very prestigious so it’s a dream to win it. When you see so many great players who haven’t won it, I realise how fortunate I am to be in this position.”

On the PokerStars Festival London Main Event: “I like this tournament a lot. There are a lot of crazy recreational players. I’ve played slowly, and the hands kept coming like boom, boom boom. I’ve been keeping risk down to a minimum because I think I have an edge on these players.”

On winning a Platinum Pass: “I am walking on water, I am floating on air.”

On his wife: “She always wants to come with me to events and I say ‘No, no, no.’ But OK! You can come with me to the PCA, my dear.”

Of joining Team PokerStars: “I am living the dream. My competitiveness has always pushed me to look for opportunities. 2018 was a great year and I am looking forward to what 2019 brings wearing the PokerStars patch.”

Kalidou Sow in pictures:

(Swipe left/right to see gallery)

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