Interview: Jon Young - Champion Strip Poker Player

By Rob Last edited 150 months ago
Interview: Jon Young - Champion Strip Poker Player

If you cast your mind back to the middle of August you might remember we reported on the upcoming Strip Poker Championships at the Cafe Royal.

To be honest we were a little cynical about it, but we heard from a couple of people afterwards that it wasn't as horribly seedy as we might have imagined, and so when the opportunity arose to interview the eventual winner (Jon Young , pictured above wearing only a beard) we couldn't resist.

(There's more pictures from the event here if you really want to see.)

Age, occupation, where are you from, where are you now?

32, Freelance writer and artist, from South London via a desperately normal Slough childhood .

How did you get into playing poker?

Started playing stupidly and drunkenly (ie lost lots of money) about 10 or 11 years ago while backpacking as a student. Only got into 'serious' poker about 2 years ago. (I still hanker for a late-night game of 3 card brag though from time to time)

What on earth made you enter a strip poker tournament, have you no shame!?

I heard about it through PaddyPower, the bookies (and organisers). I thought it would make a funny article so I went along to do a couple of interviews primarily and take part for a little while. I was fully intending to get knocked out early because I had a pub game to organise that evening. Best laid plans and all that.

So how did it work? Was there any way of regaining clothes or once they'd gone was that it?

Everyone was given 5 items of clothing by PaddyPower which you had to wear while playing (so no chance of bringing in 10 scarves to use !). As you ran out of chips, you could cash in a piece of clothing for more chips. And once you were out of clothes, you were out !

Was it what you imagined or worse/better?

Much much better. The atmosphere and venue were incredible. Everyone was there to have a good time. Also every table had it's own dealer, the first time I'd played in a tournament like that. I was also amazed at the media coverage. Every so often a guy from ABC or the girl from Reuters would interrupt play with a quick question. And a pack of tabloid photographers would rush over in a mad frenzy when a girl was about to bare all !

At what point did you first think, 'hey I could win this'?

When we were down to about the last 30 people. I looked at the clock and realised any chance of getting to my pub game was gone. But also I was chip leader at that point and everything started going right. I was knocking out players left right and centre.

What did your parents/relatives/significant other/mates think of it all?

My girlfriend went berserk, naturally. She hopped on a bus straight up there to join me for celebratory drinks. I texted my brother who just said 'nice' (he'd got a bit confused and thought I'd won my pub game and couldn't figure out why I was texting him so excitedly) Then on Monday morning all Hell broke loose. A friend phoned me up from the tube - she'd opened Metro, saw my hairy mug on page 3 and spat coffee all over her fellow passengers !

Be honest - did you peek at any lady bits?

No, I was too busy concentrating on the poker (ahem).

Is it the most embarrassing thing you've ever done, or is there worse?

Oh God, there are FAR FAR FAR WORSE things that have happened to me (that are unpublishable sadly).

Would you do it again?

Absolutely. I'll be defending my honour, I mean title, next Summer.

Ok, nor for some general Londony questions:

What's your favourite...

...street in London?

Brick Lane for the curries and 24-hour bagels.

...park in London?

Clapham Common, both the best and worst park in London. I met my girlfriend here (not in that way !) and they have great events all year, but during the summer it's packed with crushingly trendy Pete Docherty wannabes. ?

Atlantis in Whitechapel for cheap art materials; Wing Yip the chinese supermarket.

Borough, Greenwich or any Farmers' Market that I can find. to people-watch?

The night bus home. Beats the circus any day. to chill-out?

Brixton Ritzy, the best cinema in London. to get lashed?

The White Bear, Kennington.

What advice would you give Ken Livingstone?

What's the point ? He wouldn't listen and that's what I love about him !

The world is ending in 24 hours. How would you spend your last day in London?

I should say playing poker shouldn't I ? OK, book in the night before at The Savoy with my girlfriend (stick it on the credit card, it'll never be paid back). An apocalyptic fry-up in the morning at The Plough Cafe, Dulwich. Then a speed-boat ride down the Thames (with a bewildering array of ramps over the bridges for added excitement). Pull up at the House of Commons for lunch before burning the place to the ground. Then nip over the road to marry my girlfriend in Westminster Abbey (having raided Fortnum & Masons for the reception food and booze). Then with family and friends we all pile into a casino and blow the rest of our cash. That's all fairly doable I reckon :)

Have you ever been sick on the Tube?

Erm, yes. Even though the whole episode is hazy, the faces of the other tube passengers is forever etched on my brain.

If you could lose one part of London, which part would it be?

Just one ?! Tricky. Let's say the entire A40 approach (up to and including Acton). And Oxford Street.

Greatest thing ever to come out of London?

Pink Floyd.

What advice would you give to someone new to London getting on a night bus for the first time?

Bring a knife. And a camera.

Last Updated 05 September 2006