Windy City Media Group Frontpage News Home
CELEBRATING 28+ YEARS OF Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender NEWS

Search Gay News Articles
Advanced Search
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2014-08-27
Download Issue
  News Index       Archives   About WCMG    Publications    Bars & Clubs     Calendar   Videos   Advertisers    OUT! Guide    Classifieds   AIDS @ 32
 Local | National | World | Politics | Obits | Profiles | Views | Entertainment | Theater | Dance | Music | Film | Art | Books | TV/Gossip
 Travel | History | Marriage | Youth | Trans | Lesbian | Celebrations | Food | Nightlife | Sports | Health | Real Estate | Autos | Pets | Crime

Global trans* group holds fundraiser Global trans* group
holds fundraiser
Members of WPATH (World Professional Association for Transgender Health) met at the ...

Browse Gay News Index   Browse Gay News Archives
  Windy City Times

Gay poker player nears $5 million in winnings
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Ross Forman, Windy City Times
2013-08-27

facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email


Jason Somerville started playing poker with friends as a teen, in basements and garages, and by age 16 was playing online.

A decade later, Somerville is quite the card shark.

He's now 26 and approaching $5 million in winnings.

"Kinda weird, huh?" he said, laughing.

"I just found a passion for [poker], the game, the psychology of the game, the math and logic too. I'm really focused on not just succeeding in poker, but continuing to prove myself as one of the elite players in poker. To do that, it's something that requires a lot of work. I have a lot of ambitions in poker. People pretty much judge you [as a poker player] by how many World Series of Poker bracelets you have. I'm lucky to have one."

Somerville, over the course of his nine-year career, has shone on the global poker spotlight, including The World Series of Poker, World Poker Tour, Spring Championship Of Online Poker (SCOOP) and others.

He also is poker's first openly gay male professional competitor.

"There certainly is an element of luck in poker," he said. "In poker, it's also really important that you focus on the decisions that you make, and not necessarily the outcome of those decisions. There are many aspects of poker that are skills, things you can work on, such as, just watching your opponent and gathering information from what they're doing.

"There are so many elements of things you have to work on to really be successful at the top, at the top level [of poker players,] so I'll never stop learning."

To that, he's regularly reading poker-related books and watching related videos.

"I know how lucky I am to play a game for a living, no matter how difficult it is. And I'm very appreciative of that. I'm also very appreciative of the ability to compete in an environment where you can actually make money and make a good living," Somerville said. "To compete against the best in the world in anything is something I do not take for granted, and am very appreciative to be able to do so."

Especially since his parents, Marilee and Scott, were not supportive of his poker ambitions … until the money started rolling in.

In fact, he first had to play free promotion tournaments, which attract 5,000 players and only rewarded the top 10 competitors with, oh, $5. Luckily for Somerville, he won that small reward.

Somerville then snowballed that initial stake of $5 into $100 in one month, $1,000 in three months, $10,000 after six months, and $100,000 after one year.

"I think it took the checks actually clearing in the bank before my parents thought it was cool, that it was actual real money," he said, laughing.

The first thing Somerville purchased with money won playing poker was a big-screen TV—for his tiny bedroom inside his parent's house.

And at 19, he purchased a cherry-red convertible.

"I never really considered poker to be a career until a few years later, when I really started having success," Somerville said. "As for my parents, they've come a long way."

Somerville, at 17, walked into his parents' room one night, just to tell them that he had won about $20,000 playing poker online.

His mom's reaction: "Real money?"

Somerville laughed and said, "Like I'm going to wake you up for fake money?!"

Other times, Somerville left notes for his parents about his success.

"I just won a tournament, won $42,000," one note said.

Somerville admitted his mom always wanted him to go to college, get a job, get married and have kids—the traditional life. She was not very embracing of the poker world, he said.

But, when he was in Las Vegas once, and won his first $100,000 in a night, he called his mom to share the news. She was so happy and excited. "I think that was the turning point for when she really started embracing poker as a potential source of income," Somerville said.

Today, he's set to top the $5 million mark in earnings, with no sign of stopping anytime soon.

"Kinda crazy," he said, laughing. "It's an insane number to even hear."

Somerville's parents always pushed him toward earning a business degree, or becoming a doctor or lawyer. But he was never interested in any of those fields.

"I did go to college for a little for business, but found it very boring and honestly was spending most of my time playing online poker while in class," he said.

Somerville will be playing countless poker tournaments this summer and, for the first time, was invited to participate in the premiere 64-person 2013 National Heads-Up Poker Championship on NBC.

Somerville came out in early 2012, joining Vanessa Selbst, the top-earning female tournament player of all time, under the rainbow flag.

"I had always battled with [coming-out], especially as I became more known in poker," Somerville said. "If I had gone to college like most and had a 'normal childhood,' I probably would have come out at, oh, 21.

"But [instead], I graduated high school at 17 and left college at 19. Almost every day from [age] 17 to 22, I woke up and tried to make the most money I could that day. I wouldn't change that, but it certainly wasn't balanced. Though I thought at the time it would make me happiest, it didn't.

"As I got older, I realized that I would have to take certain steps, if I truly wanted to be happy."

Somerville wanted to date, but knew there would, or could, be risks. If his sexual orientation became known, Somerville knew he could land on poker gossip forums online—and he didn't know those consequences.

"I didn't want to be ashamed of it, and didn't want to hide it," he said. "I wanted to handle it the right way, eventually, once I came to terms with the fact that I needed to come out to be happy, which took me a long time, but I eventually did."

The catalyst for coming out came in December, 2011, when he met Vincent Newland.

They met for their first date on a Friday after talking online, and the relationship has blossomed ever since.

"We fell in love quickly and I felt disrespectful to introduce him to people as my friend, [not my boyfriend]. To truly honor our relationship, I needed to come out," Somerville said.

So, for six weeks, he wrote, rewrote, edited and revised his coming-out blog.

He came out on Valentine's Day 2012.

"I [came out] because it was best for me, but am amazingly moved and touched by the fact that people were touched, moved, inspired because of it," said Somerville, selected one of Out Magazine's "Out 100," as one of last year's most prominent gay activists, ambassadors and personalities.

"I thought [my coming-out blog] would be read by 200 poker players [and fans], maybe 1,000—and I'd get mixed responses, positive and negative. Instead, it was really well read in the poker and the gay communities—and I got several thousand positive messages, just within the first 48 hours after coming out.

"It was unlike anything I expected.

"All these years of anxiety, fears and worrying that people would not accept me, and that I never would feel that connection, to instead have the reaction from around the world be super, super positive and overwhelming loving, it was unbelievable.

"That coming-out day was, perhaps, the best day of my life."

Newland had no clue who Somerville was professionally before their first in-person meeting. In fact, Somerville just told Newland that he works in business, and he wouldn't give his last name or exactly what he did professionally because he quickly could and would be found with an online search."

Newland was, and still is, OK with Somerville—and Somerville's parents are more than OK with their son's career card.


facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email




Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily
agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here.
Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you
stay on this page, the more you help us.

Sam cut by St. Louis was strictly 'a football decision' 2014-08-30
FGG co-president opens up on Gay Games past, present, future 2014-08-27
Sky to Face the Indiana in WNBA Eastern Finals 2014-08-27
Chicago Dragons competing for Bingham Cup in Australia 2014-08-21
Chicagoan captures bodybuilding gold medal at Gay Games 9 2014-08-20
'Epic Fail Challenge 5K' Aug. 23 at Soldier Field 2014-08-19
Spurs hire NBA's first women assistant coach 2014-08-19
NBA referee weds partner 2014-08-19
WNBA players Griner, Johnson engaged 2014-08-16
Chicagoans celebrate gold and more at Gay Games 9 2014-08-15
Chicago Rowing Union wins gold at Gay Games 9 2014-08-15
Greg Louganis helps kick off Gay Games Opening Day 2014-08-14
Arizona State football player comes out as gay 2014-08-14
Gay-rights activist receives baseball award 2014-08-13
Michael Sam debuts in NFL 2014-08-12
'Out at the Sox' Aug. 16 2014-08-12
Gay Games 9 opens in Cleveland-Akron 2014-08-10
Out at the Sox: LGBT Pride Night Aug. 16 2014-08-08
Kickball league launches locally to support charity 2014-08-08
Pro soccer player supports LGBT community, Pride Night events 2014-08-07
Gay Games 9: Fewer registrants, but excitement aplenty 2014-08-03
Skateboarding's Tony Hawk joins Americans for Marriage Equality 2014-07-30
Dungy clarifies comments about Michael Sam 2014-07-30
Team Chicago hosts Gay Games 9 senf-off party 2014-07-30
Chicago native takes over as president of CMSA 2014-07-23
Sam accepts Arthur Ashe Award at ESPYs 2014-07-23
Charlie Rice-Minoso: Building his own legacy locally 2014-07-19
Former Div. I college football player Thorson comes out 2014-07-18
Billie Jean King to speak at CFW annual luncheon 2014-07-17
Gay in the Life: Heidi J. Onion 2014-07-16
World news: Conchita Wurst models; Ian Thorpe comes out 2014-07-16
Climb cancelled, but charitable causes still win 2014-07-16
Sports open house July 19 2014-07-16
Chicagoan to continue triathlon journey at Gay Games 9 2014-07-15
Major League Baseball recognizing Glenn Burke's legacy 2014-07-15
History made, honored in annual Ride For AIDS Chicago 2014-07-13
2014 Gay/Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame inductees honored 2014-07-12
Gay team makes history; Laverne Cox tops world list 2014-07-08
Tim Emond returns for Ride for AIDS 2014-07-08
Chicago takes Miami, heads to conference championship 2014-07-06





Copyright © 2014 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 



 

Attendees board 'Soul Train' at ALCC event
 
DINING Freshii's Alex Blair on expanding empire
 
Michael Jackson tribute Aug. 28-30 in Gary, Indiana
 
Way-out Wizard World: costumes, characters, artists
 
Before we go moving the Pride Parade...
 
Windy City Times Current DownloadNightspots Current DownloadQueercast Current Download
Windy City Media Group BlogsJoin Our Email List!Donate Now



  News Index       Archives   About WCMG    Publications    Bars & Clubs     Calendar   Videos   Advertisers    OUT! Guide    Classifieds   AIDS @ 32
 Local | National | World | Politics | Obits | Profiles | Views | Entertainment | Theater | Dance | Music | Film | Art | Books | TV/Gossip
 Travel | History | Marriage | Youth | Trans | Lesbian | Celebrations | Food | Nightlife | Sports | Health | Real Estate | Autos | Pets | Crime



About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video      News Videos      Nightspots Videos      Entertainment Videos      Queercast Videos      Comedy Videos     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.