It was inevitable. With online poker becoming the world’s largest social network-where people compete, but also meet, share experiences and become friends-it was only a matter of time until one of those interactions resulted in a marriage!
Thus, PartyPoker.com is delighted to announce what it believes to be is the world’s first marriage made in online hold’em. On March 7th at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas, 28-year-old New York attorney Gary Suffir and 27-year Las Vegas artist Jackie Johnson will wed after having met in September 2004 playing poker on the online gaming site, the world’s largest online poker room. Needless to say, the wedding will have a poker theme and then the couple will embark for their honeymoon on the PartyPoker.com Million V Cruise around the Cayman Islands and Jamaica, starting on the 12th, along with nearly 450 other poker players.
PartyPoker.com spokesman Warren Lush said: “We were delighted when Gary and Jackie called to tell us that they were going all-in for life. It took us a while to believe that they weren’t bluffing! They’re having a full-on poker wedding in Vegas and are even having an online tournament for wedding guests a couple of weeks before the big day. We look forward to welcoming them on to the PartyPoker.com Million V for their honeymoon where company spokesman and leading poker ambassador Mike Sexton will toast their future happiness.”
It all started with a turn of a card. “I first met Gary online at PartyPoker.com in September 2004,” noted the bride. “We were both playing in a $30 Omaha game and I was very much a beginner to this version of the game. Gary made what I considered to be a good play, but got nailed by a bad beat on the river. The guy who won the hand started trashing Gary. I supported Gary in the argument and the rest, as they say, is history.”
They chatted for a while that day, mainly about poker. She began getting advice on strategy from her new friend. They talked online constantly, at one point staying up for 24 hours playing in multi-table tournaments together. For three or four days they only communicated via the buddy function on the PartyPoker.com website. After that, they exchanged IM handles and discovered they were passionate about the same kind of music.
“I told her that Jeff Buckley brings a tear to my eye,” adds Gary. “By coincidence Jackie was a Buckley fan had been to a Bright Eyes concert the night before and I really liked him too. It blew my mind that I’d met a woman who was not only into the same music, but with whom I could talk about Omaha poker strategy. When I first started chatting to Jackie I was even unaware that she was a woman because it’s often hard to tell by the nicknames people use online.”
Gary and Jackie continued to compete in the same multi-table tournaments, which often have hundreds of entrants. “Two months before we met face-to-face, we played in a $20 Omaha hi-lo game. I said if we get seated at the same table, it’s fate! Then our tables popped up and we were sitting next to each other,” laughs Jackie.
“We exchanged photographs three months later and in January I went to Vegas for some temp attorney work, to play some poker and meet Jackie,” said Gary. “The day before we met, we actually spoke on the telephone for the first time. I knew we had a connection, but didn’t know where it would go. I’d never met anyone on the Internet before, let alone on a poker site. We only used IM for such a long time, but I felt the closeness between us.”
What began as a one-day meeting of online friends became much more and stretched to a week while the couple revelled in their chemistry in person. They were each hesitant to admit how strongly they felt about each other, for fear of undermining the budding relationship.
By March 2005-six weeks after their first meeting–Jackie moved to New York City to live with Gary and it was at then, according to Jackie, that they actually had their first kiss. In August, Gary got down on one knee and proposed. Jackie thought he was going to work, but instead Gary arrived back at the apartment with yellow roses and daisies.
“I was delighted she said yes and we agreed we’d get married in Vegas to try and recreate that great week we had when we first met in January,” said Gary. Then they called PartyPoker.com to thank the company for playing matchmaker.
The couple are looking forward to their honeymoon where they’ll compete for $5 million in prize money on the poker cruise. “We both play hyper aggressive, “said Gary, who plays under the name ‘I_like_birds’ on the net. Jackie plays as ‘Supplanter.’
“What makes me laugh is that when I sit in our apartment and listen to Gary expound about his online chat over someone’s bad play. And, to think, that is how we met!”
The upcoming marriage of Suffir and Jackson has created quite a stir on the offices of PartyPoker.com. Said Lush: “Since hearing about Gary and Jackie, we’ve now done a deal with LavaLife for some private poker dating tables. Perhaps we should think about creating our own online dating site”.