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I did this interview and called it 'Freeroll to a Million' just after Tony won the Ladbrokes Poker Millions in August 2005. This was initially published on Skalies Site, www.best-hand.com, but thought I mite as well stick it here also lol.

To those of us that play internet poker on Ladbrokes, Anthony ‘Spider99’ Jones is a regular well-known and well liked player, usually seen at the low-end of the multi-table tournament spectrum. He was the first person to qualify for the televised stages of the recent ‘Poker Millions’ promotion, and did so via a freeroll, eventually scooping One Million (yes that’s right ONE MILLION) dollars in an exciting live televised game, without investing one dollar of his own cash, a true cinderella story.

He won his heat, then qualified through the semi’s to take his seat at the final table with some of the best players around, in a game that lasted well into the small hours of the morning, watched not only by millions on TV, but also by Over 600 of us that were privileged enough to be at the sponsors poker millions party at the Hilton Metropole in London, where the atmosphere was electric, the booze flowed like tap water, and the celebrations were more akin to the darts, rather than the usual cool reserve associated with poker players.

I approached Spider, and asked him if he would be kind enough to answer a few questions for us, which he happily agreed to, so here we go !!

Q: First of all, congratulations on your win in the Ladbrokes poker millions, your success gives hope to all the low-limit players and freeroll whores, but apart from the obvious, what other memories were special?

A: Without sounding like I am crawling or sucking up, but the way Ladbrokes took care of everyone, heats through to the final, the whole event was special as I am sure every one who was at the party would agree.

Q: Has your win sunk in yet, and what does it mean to you and your family?

A: I don’t think it has sunk in yet, to me it means no more work, more time with the kids, what more could I want.

Q: What was your first thought when you realised you’d won?

A: No thoughts really just a feeling of all the tension just disappearing.

Q: Did you receive many emails and cards from well-wishers?

A: Yeah loads. I am still trying to phone or reply to all of them.

Q: How long have you played poker?

A: Since Christmas 2003, so about 20 months now.

Q: Why the alias ‘spider99’?

A: I’ve had the nickname spider since I was about 10 ( I’ll let you decide why !!! ) so when I signed with Ladbrokes the alias spider had gone so had spider1 and so on, 99 was the first one I could use.

Q: Do you play any other internet poker sites apart from Laddies?

A: I’ve tried loads ( no names) but I always end up going back to Laddies.

Q: So then, whats the best thing about playing poker?

A: Winning

Q: Whats more important, the title or the money?, or is that a stoopid question?

A: The title, the money means nothing !!! ( spot the deliberate lie )

Q: You seemed pretty cool when playing, but how nervous were you?, and tell us of any pant-filling moments on the way, either in the heats or final?

A: I was very nervous, but hopefully covered it up well, Helen helped me though by talking all the time. The most nerve racking moment was in the heats. I’m the BB sitting with AA, folded round to the button who raises, SB re-raises with KK i cant believe my luck, but my nerves go to pot.

Q: Did it take ages to fold that big cheque, and did the bank clerk give any funny looks when you went to deposit it?

A: I can’t answer that as my youngest son won’t let go of it.

Q: Before your win, what was the largest single amount you’ve won in a poker game?

A: About $900

Q: I gather your into motorbikes, what do u ride?

A: Kawasaki 600 Ninja

Q: Do you play much live poker, or is it internet only?

A: I’ve played twice at Westcliffe casino down in Southend, and a few times round at WHITEHUNTER’S house with friends.

Q: How many hours a week would you say you spend online at the poker table?

A: It varies, but probably about 40 hours a week.

Q: Any chemistry between a certain scandi and hells-bells?, was he all over her like a cheap suit in the breaks, or is he just a regular friendly guy?

A: I can’t think of who you are talking about ( LOL ) everyone was really friendly.

Q: How much truth in the story that your wife only allows you a tenner a week to play?, and if u lose it, do u cry like a baby, asking her for a sub saying “I promise to look after it this time luvvie - honest”, or does she open her purse understandingly?

A: My wife say’s it’s completely false ( LOL )

Q: Do you have any kids, and would you encourage them to play poker?

A: I have 3 boys and the youngest 2 already play.

Q: Of all the players in the pokermillions heats and final, who impressed you the most?, and did u feel intimidated by some of the big names?

A: I was not really intimidated because they were all so friendly but the one who impressed me the most was THE DON, the way he came back in his Semi was just amazing.

Q: Will you use any of the cash to ‘move up’ and play poker for higher stakes?

A: Definitely not.

Q: How much interest have you had from the media?

A: On the night and for 2 days later nothing but the press, but I suppose that comes with the territory.

Q: Have you been stopped in the street by any strangers who recognised you from TV?

A: Not yet. I go up to people and tell them who I am and they just tell me to F*** O** (LOL)

Q: How did you feel when hells bells sucked out the JQ runner runner against Martin, were you rooting for her, or did you think “chit, that could cost me 200 grand”

A: I thought after the flop Helen was out. Even after the turn I thought she was out so when she hit the river as well I just couldn’t believe it. But no matter how I felt I can only imagine what Martin felt.

Q: What job do you do, and what do your workmates think of your poker success?

A: I’ve now given my job up but I was a forktruck driver. My workmates (sorry ex-workmates) think its great, they all won lots of money as they all backed me ( I told them not to ) and I’ll still be playing home games with a lot of them.

Q: The last hand, When hells bells moved in on u with K9 I think it was, u seemed to call pretty quickly with pocket 5’s, even though u had enough chips to pass. Before calling, what did u put her on?, did u think “I’m probably a small favourite or big dog”, or was the pressure getting to you, and were you glad to see a showdown to let the poker gods decide?. Please talk us through it.

A: When I saw the 5’s I wanted to stick it all in. But I just raised and hoped Helen would re-raise when she went all in I thought 2 face cards. If I am right then I am slight favourite and Helen would need to hit and not me as I have already got a hand. Luckily I was right and Helen never hit.

Q: So what does the future hold, any immediate plans, poker or otherwise, or are you gunna take a while to think about it first?

A: Nothing immediate, invest the money so that me and the wife don’t have to work anymore then take it from there. On the poker side I would like to win a $10 MTT for once.

Q: Anything else you would like to add?

A: For all the people that sent me their good wishes and support I would like to say a big THANK YOU.


 To summarise, it’s a fantastic result all round, not only for Tony, but also for Ladbrokes, and all of us ‘wannabe’ poker players. I’m sure if you’d have asked Tony if he could envisage this moment when he first started 20 months ago, he would have LAUGHED OUT LOUD, as he registered for the morning $1 multi, and with success stories like his, it’s no wonder poker is booming.

GL at the tables.

Bob

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