Professional Poker Player Jason Somerville Says He’s Gay, is First Male Pro Player to Come Out


Professional poker player Jason Somerville (seated, center) came out of the closet yesterday in a lengthy, well-written post on his blog.

Writes Somerville, in part:

Of all the diversity and variety that the poker world contains, though, there is a noticeable lack of openly gay poker professionals. Vanessa Selbst is a top tier player, a brilliant woman and an amazing person, but other than her, I’ve never met a single gay professional poker player, nevermind a high profile one. There’s plenty of speculation – Daniel Negreanu, Tom Dwan, and a few other big name players who are actually very straight have received plenty of attention from the gossip forums as being potentially gay for having a few mannerisms simply perceived that way.

They’re not gay, though, and no man who is a well-known pro in poker is open about it. I’m not quite sure why exactly that is, and of course everyone is entitled to be as open as they want to be about their personal lives, but for there to be zero high-profile openly not-straight men in poker seems…bad. Archaic. Reflective of a community that isn’t open to all, when we actually are one of the most open communities in existence. Maybe it’s not because of something unique to poker, and it’s just a relic of the old-school mentality when the world’s default mindset was at best “don’t ask, don’t tell,” but, come on, it’s 2012. Whatever the reason… zero??

He adds:

I’ve struggled with how to discuss this, with how to balance my desire for privacy with the fact that I do want to be myself publicly – and the fact that I think it’s overdue for a guy to be open about it in poker. I’m no Daniel Negreanu, the royalty of real talk, but I do pride myself on saying what I think and simply being who I am; but I suppose you could say in the past being “truly myself” has come with a bit of an asterisk. Privately, amongst friends, I can say I’ve been doing that for some amount of time – but publicly, and in poker, that hasn’t completely been the case. I haven’t exactly always been where I am now, though, and haven’t really been ready to share my story publicly. Privacy reasons excepted, that won’t be the case any more.

In 2011, Somerville won the No-Limit, Hold'em event at the World Series of Poker

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  1. sparks says

    “Reflective of a community that isn’t open to all, when we actually are one of the most open communities in existence. ”

    That’s sound reasoning for choosing to come out, although I’m starting to believe that there are no bad reasons. The benefits of having ‘out’ players far outweigh the possibility of a gay person exploiting their story for attention, money, etc.

    There are people of all genders and all races, and even senior leagues and competitions — so age is hardly even a factor anymore. But gays belong to the final minority to be inadequately represented in almost every sports organization.

  2. says

    Sometimes it’s best to just say “I’m gay” and leave it at that. People will think what they want to think and only hear what they want to hear.

  3. Jonathan says

    Somerville won A no-limit hold ’em even. When you say THE no-limit hold ’em even at the World Series of Poker, you’re generally talking about the $10,000 buy in Main Event, the most prestigious prize in poker. The last two winners read as slightly gay, but only because one is French Canadian and the other is European. Somerville won a $1,000 no-limit hold ’em event, of which there are >20 every year at the WSOP.

    On the other hand, that makes Somerville a bracelet winner, which means he’s a part of the upper echelons of poker (multi bracelet winners could be considered poker elite).

    In other words, an out bracelet winner is a big deal.

  4. Alan Arthur Chiras says

    Where is Compete magazine on this??? I still want him and Selbst on the cover for an interview. I competed in The Senior’s event last year and I got to fist-bump Daniel when I told him that I got every penny back from PokerStars. Way to go Jason. RAH!

  5. sparks says

    @OMNOMNOM true, but it’s a recreational activity which gets associated with pseudo sports like bowling and pool. (and golf, which takes no more athleticism than bowling or billiards…)

  6. Bob R says

    Of course the question a lot of his straight fellow players will want answered is: “Is Jason a poker or a pokee?”