One thing you don’t hear about too often in the poker circle is poker players’ sexual preference, at least of those who prefer the same sex, but this is not the case as of Valentine’s Day when WSOP bracelet winner Jason Somerville came out of the closet. Somerville won the $1K NLH, walking away with the first place cash prize worth nearly $500K.
He came out on his blog and explained that on his 2011 birthday, April 15th, the all too familiar Black Friday, he was faced with the realization that he just wanted to be happy, and he was no longer able to escape to online poker. He knew something had to change.
He wrote, “By the time WSOP 2011 came around, I had already begun to want real change, and once WSOP passed I had a few important heart-to-hearts with some very close friends and my mindset finally started to actually change.”
Somerville explained in his blog that he had decided to stop focusing on what was best for him financially, but rather focus on what would most impact his happiness “without making excuses.” Instead of making obstacles that would only impede him, he decided to instead make changes.
“I had put it off for a long time. I always knew I wasn’t straight, but I never spoke a word of it for twenty two years, and nobody really ever knew otherwise.” He hoped he’d “grow out of it.”
He went on to say that he first came out to a close friend and then to his parents, who he says didn’t take it well at first, but have since come around. Perhaps Somerville’s story will inspire others to feel comfortable to be themselves among their peers. So far, Somerville is the first male professional poker player to publicly announce his sexual orientation as gay. Who knows if he will be the last. There is one female poker player who is a self-pronounced lesbian, Vanessa Selbst. Some believe that there are others, though we won’t mention them here out of respect for their choice to come out in their own time.