After speaking to different people, I found that if I was not in print somewhere or had national exposure an article would not be done on me for poker. I had won a lot of money playing Texas Hold ‘em. I actually bought almost all my jewelry, furniture, etc. from the game. I had done well in many tournaments around the local area—California and Nevada. I named my dog “Hold ‘em” for the love and passion I have for the game. I realized this was, maybe, my edge.
I was one of the few successful Texas Hold ‘em Women players in the United States and was known by hundreds of the top players in the business. This was before the huge poker craze you see now. I had never entered a huge tournament such as the World Series of Poker that costs $10,000 to enter. These events get you lots of exposure if you win. I was professional enough to win money, but I was not a gambler. I knew it when I started playing years ago. Texas Hold ‘em is one of the few casino games that are not played against the house. It is played directly against the
players at the table. This is why you will not find many poker rooms in the large casinos in Vegas because they do not make enough profit for the house. The house makes money by taking a drop (a little bit of money) for each hand played. You could lose hundreds of dollars and the house would not gain any more than the forced drop per hand. This is one reason that you will get hardly any comps in Vegas when playing because they really don’t want you to play. Comps mean the casino, if you are a big gambler, lets you stay for free.
Anyhow, since I had not won a large event, or even entered one, for me to get noticed and be in one of the nationwide poker magazines I would need to win a large tournament. Or would I? I was playing poker at a local casino in Arizona when I spoke to a guy sitting next to me. It was a fluke—or fate. He was from Vegas and was a known writer for Poker Digest. I batted my eyes, my mind spinning, and asked him to dinner at a nice restaurant in the casino. He had done the last cover of Poker Digest. Bruce accompanied me.
I made a proposal to the writer: “You need to write a story about me for the magazine. I’ll pay you to write the story and if you can get it on the cover I’ll give you a $500 bonus.”
“Good idea, good material. I think I can make this work,” he said.
Why not? I was a professional poker player, good looking, and well known. I hadn’t won a national title, but I was still a local champ. We emailed back and forth, and I wrote many pages for him to make his story.
Here is the unedited version of what I sent the writer of Poker Digest Magazine:
Jill Ann Spaulding, Age 30, Birth date 4-29-70, Bust 38, Waist 25, Hips 35, 118 pounds, 5’7”, blue eyes, blonde hair, never married, only child. Never pregnant, I have an 8-pound toy poodle named Hold ‘em after my favorite game. No tattoos and nothing pierced, not even my ears.
I was born in Phoenix, Arizona, and moved to Washington State when I was four and grew up in a very small town called Granite Falls. I lived there until I was fourteen years of age, and then our family moved back to Phoenix. My major interest in high school was retail marketing. I won a lot of trophies for Apparel and Accessories. I graduated from Mountain View High School in Mesa, Arizona, on the honor roll. I
had a job at a donut shop. I was a tool girl at the swap meet and worked at Miller’s Outpost my senior year. I moved out when I was eighteen. I had saved up enough for a large down payment on a mobile home and purchased my own mobile home for $31,500. My monthly payment was $333.38. Why at such a young age did I have so much money saved up? My father was a consistent influence in my life. Every conversation was about money. When I think back on my childhood, I remember my parents would fight about money. I vowed to never have this as one of the arguments in my life. This is why it was easy to save money. I wanted to move out! When my parents found out that I had saved up this much money, instead of being proud of me, they assumed I was having sex for money, selling drugs, or blackmailing someone. I guess I did not have a good rapport at home. I had actually saved the money not doing any of those things. By the age of eighteen, I had never been drunk, never smoked or taken anything illegal. The worst thing I ever did was to send a lot of Pizza Hut pizzas to a guy who broke up with me when I was seventeen.
My family was very happy to see me move out. I was a teenaged know-it-all. Actually my family did make a winner out of me. I had been drilled and lectured for so many years that I was determined to put what I knew to good use. My biggest motivation was that my mother was certain I would be back living at home in six months and would have lost my down payment. I didn’t even have a job when I bought the trailer. I soon got a job working at Village Inn. I didn’t make much on tips; the patrons were mostly coffee drinkers. I had worked my entire shift on Christmas day and when I was about to leave I was told that if I did not stay and work a double shift that they would be firing me. How little did they know if they would have just asked me I would’ve stayed. I decided to let myself go and took off my apron and walked out. I tried several different types of work, but nothing really clicked.
I loved to organize so I decided to start cleaning homes. I put an ad in the local paper, and before long I was doing nothing else. After one year I had over 100 employees and was no longer cleaning—but
managing and training. Within two and a half years I had paid off my trailer. I owned it and the land free and clear.
Finally at the age of twenty-one, I went to a little country bar on Valentine’s night. I went alone. As it
happened, a man I had met a week earlier was there, alone as well. Bruce Gifford was forty-three (twenty-two years my senior). It never occurred to me that we would have anything permanent because of the age
difference. He showed up at my door for a casual evening with roses and candy. I was hooked. My family was not. They threatened to disown me. My father threatened to kill him. We didn’t speak for almost five years. Not just because of Bruce—there were other issues as well. Now my mom and I talk a couple of times a year. My father and I do not have a relationship anymore. Bruce and I have been together the entire time.
I admit he is the father figure I longed for because my dad and I were never close even when I was a toddler. We never did marry because of Bruce’s family’s reaction and my family’s reaction. At this point we probably never will. For anyone curious, his wife was involved with another man before I ever met Bruce, and she is married to this guy till this day. This will hopefully stop any questions. As for me being with him for his money, he did not have any money at all. He only had his job and the clothes on his back. He was left with virtually nothing. He came out of the entire relationship with no house, no vehicle. The only thing that he was left with was half of his retirement, which was $15,000. He is my best friend, and I feel this is why the
Taking a few steps back, I opened a new and recycled clothing store. Why? I was ridiculed when I went to school for not having all the name brands. I named the store Name Brand Exchange. It fit. One day I woke up and took stock of my life. The trailer was paid off, and I decided I didn’t want to deal with the employees in my cleaning business anymore. It took about six months to get up the inventory to open my new store. It was an exciting time—and still is. I love it. Not every day did I love it, though. I got so stressed out from employees stealing, quitting, or me having to fire them for ridiculous things. I was at my wit’s end. I had moved into a new house and had it paid off in two years. I paid $125,000 for it so it wasn’t so easy to close the doors or sell the business that was making good money. I went to a doctor for the stress. He advised me to double the employees’ pay and don’t go back. That was three years ago, and I have held true to my
commitment. I don’t make as much money, but my employees are well-paid, they don’t quit, and I don’t have to see the place. I still make a comfortable living and can play poker every day of the week. Life is great. My
62 passion is going to the movies. That is my other hobby. I can get completely immersed in a movie and take myself away.
I live in a large house now. It was paid off until recently when I purchased two commercial pads to build a small 8,000 square foot strip mall. I’m in debt again. I will be putting my store in about 3,800 square feet and renting out the rest, planning to use this for my retirement. I still work out three times a week with weights and riding my bike. My favorite shows are reruns of Ally McBeal and Sex and the City.