Family Follows PartyPoker Tournament Winner's Journey - Saturday 11th of February 2006

GIBRALTAR – Paul Wieber didn't need to call his family to say he had just won the PartyPoker online tournament with a top prize of a private jet to use for 25 hours to fly anywhere in world. His brother Dave and other family members followed every hand online.

They started calling him to send their congratulations as soon as the 32-year-old, customer service manager at a Grand Rapids sign company scored his victory.

With a seven-month-old son, Wieber elected to leave the private jet on the runway and fill up his bank account instead with the $125,000 cash equivalent.

He's putting some of it aside to invest in his child's college education, and has plans for the rest of it: "Flying around like a star of show business would be nice, but the way I see it $125,000 is going to buy me a lot of normal plane tickets!" said a delighted Wieber.

Besides starting a college fund for his son Ethan, he plans to visit relatives in Florida, "buy some fun stuff, a couple of toys and put money towards a new house."

And some of his PartyPoker cash is earmarked for the novice poker player's very first trip to Las Vegas! Wieber describes himself as "pretty much brand new to poker" and has only been playing online for six months.

Better yet, since the PartyPoker tournament was a "freeroll," where the entrants do not have to put up a dime of their own, Wieber's winnings will be pure profit.

"To say I'm a little bit surprised to win is an understatement – it is unbelievable! I remember when I was on the final table going heads-up and we had a little break. I wrote a little note to my opponent and he couldn't believe he was there either. For the past few months I've only been on the play money tables – I have to say I was pretty lucky. Thirty minutes into the game I was down to $170 and was almost out but somehow I just came back."

During the tournament, Wieber was excitedly relaying developments to his wife, Heather. "I kept Heather updated during breaks but when I was at a key point in the tournament she was upstairs bathing Ethan," he said. "She was ecstatic but kept shouting 'What's the catch?'"

What Wieber never realized at the time was that most of his family were watching him during the crucial stages on the final table. Brother Dave, also from Grand Rapids, had been on the phone to the rest of his family telling them how close to glory Paul was. Dave had gone out in an earlier round.

"I didn't have to tell anyone that I had won, the phone rang just after the final hand," said Weiber. "I'm glad it happened this way as I didn't want to make calls during the tournament as I was worried it would jinx me and make me more nervous."

The signs were good for the signs manager from Grand Rapids. While Wieber has no designs on being a poker pro, he does aspire to play at the highest level.

PartyPoker spokesman Warren Lush said: "Paul is a great example of how a novice can go really far in poker in a very short space of time. We know he's trying to qualify for the Million V in March and hope to see him there."

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