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Secret Millionaire reveals how TV show inspired him to change
Poker player Andrew Feldman has been thrust into the limelight after appearing on Channel Four show Secret Millionaire.
The Bushey resident, who has won more than £6million in tournaments and online poker, had been approached by the programme’s production company three months ago.
Under the guise of filming a documentary about young people looking for work, he was asked to go undercover for eight days in impoverished areas of Bradford, to learn more about the communities and families who live there.
And for some lucky organisations, the 24-year-old gave away thousands of pounds of his own money to help them better their situations.
The former Bushey Meads School student said: “The first night there was scary. I was taken to a really rough area of Bradford, to a rundown estate.
“While we were, there someone tried to break in, I ended up moving the sofa to act as a barrier against the door.
“Drug use was really apparent in the area as well. You’d see kids hanging around the streets or see some people driving around in really flash cars and know it was drug money that paid for it.
“At first I was concerned that the charities I visited would know I was a millionaire, that the programme had told them. But they really had no clue at all, my cover story was really good.
“Who’s going to believe that a 24-year-old is a millionaire?”
The programme was broadcast on Sunday, June 24.
When Andrew was just 18 years old he lost all the money he had made at the time – £100,000 – playing poker.
Viewing the game as a business, he said he would deliberately target weak players, earning him a reputation as one of the most feared poker players.
But his parents, becoming concerned with Andrew’s preoccupation with the game which he was playing for 16 hours a day, made him attend Gamblers’ Anonymous and put blocks on their home computers to try to prevent him playing.
Depite this, Andrew found £100 in one of his poker accounts and continued to gamble in secret, visiting internet cafes after school.By the time he had reached 19, he had made his first million.
But despite this, he did not feel satisfied.
He said:”Taking part in the programme was a personal challenge, having to adapt to surroundings that were going to put me out of my comfort zone and hopefully make me see life in a different perspective.
“I needed a reality check, a shock. Poker had made me a lot of money, but I have faced a lot tough times too.
“When I lost that money initially I hit a real low. My parents felt that I was going to destroy my life, I had an addiction. People had also taken advantage of me, pretending to be friends, and the path I had chosen left me feeling lonely and isolated. I was travelling all over the world to play poker, but I felt alone. These people I was playing with were not my friends.
“People were being false, pretending to be my friend because I had money.”
During his time in Bradford, he met with Rich Jones, founder of youth scheme The Joshua Project, a hub for kids in need of activities and educational support, Hidden Voices a magazine written by homeless people, and Little Heroes, which provides toys for children with cancer.
Moved by each of the organisations, he donated £153,000 of his own cash, and presented each of the founders with £5,000 each, to enjoy a holiday at his expense.
Andrew, a lifelong Watford FC fan, said: “I feel I’ve reconnected with people and can now enjoy life to the full. I’m a better person, and I have every intention of staying in contact with each of the organisations – in fact, I’m going to be a patron of The Joshua Project.
“It’s been a life-changing experience. Putting others first is important. I understand that money isn’t everything and it’s inspired me to change my life and be happy.”