Jamie Gold is one of the most controversial personalities of the professional poker scene. Known mostly for his victory in the 2006 WSOP Big Dance (which, at $12 million, also happened to be the biggest poker prize ever taken down), his skills as a poker player are still doubted by experts and amateurs alike.
His latest loosing streak does little to dispel these doubts either.
After his phenomenal victory over the biggest field of players a WSOP Main Event has ever seen (including some of the world’s top poker professionals) all he had was trouble and heat from a variety of sources. His play had already been subject to critique as the Main Event unfolded, and his table manners could’ve used a bit of fine tuning here and there too. As a matter of fact, word has it that he was long overdue for a warning from the WSOP officials, a warning that would never come though. Table talk is allowed of course, but when someone goes about telling his opponents his hole-cards and even flashing one of them, that pretty much breaks every rule that governs such live poker events.
Despite all the controversy surrounding his actions, Jamie Gold proved undaunted and unstoppable. He managed to completely confuse his opponents and lure them into calling when he had the nuts, while at the same time he made them fold when he had nothing. He was ultra aggressive when in position, and tested the ground with a big bet to draw information from his opponents’ reactions. He could afford it, after all he held the chip lead since day 4.
Tutored by Johnny Chan, Gold eliminated seven of his eight final table opponents himself. Among those eliminated was Allen Cunningham who ended up in 4th. Jamie reached the heads-up stage against Paul Wasicka, another seasoned professional, and went up against him on a final hand of Qs, 9c against Wasicka’s 10h, 10s.
The board came Qs, 8h, 5h, Ad, 4c, which gave Gold a pair of Qs against Wasicka’s unimproved 10s.
Born in 1969 in Kansas City, Missouri, Jamie M. Usher (he was born with that name which later got changed to Gold after his mother’s second husband), moved to Manhattan with his mother as a child. After his mother re-married, they moved to Paramus, NJ, where he graduated from high school.
He had a rich and rather successful life well before his legendary WSOP win, too. At the age of 16, he already acted as an intern at the J. Michael Bloom & Associates Talent Agency in New York.
In 1991 he moved to California to study entertainment law, and with the excellent recommendations that he had he quickly got a job at various well-named talent agencies. At 21 he became the youngest franchised talent agent. As an agent, he worked with actors like Jimmy Fallon, James Gandolfini and Lucy Liu.
He was introduced to poker by his mother and his grandfather who had been a gin rummy champion.
His first notable poker achievement came in 2005, when he won his first tournament at the Bicycle Casino in L.A., for more than $50k. Seven more money finishes would follow during the next year, setting the stage for his 2006 WSOP victory.
After his Main Event win though, he failed put in a single strong performance in any noteworthy tournament he played in, as a matter of fact he got his can kicked in quite an embarrassing manner several times, which prompted many of his critiques to declare that he was a phony professional and his phenomenal WSOP run could be attributed to blind luck only.
To make matters worse, he got sued by his former partner, Crispin Leyser, for half of the $12 million he had won, on account of a deal they had in which Gold promised Leyser half of his winnings in exchange for the latter helping him bring celebrities abord the Bodog WSOP Team.
His winnings got blocked pending result of the suit for quite a while. Eventually, they settled the issue and Gold could get back to playing poker and managing talent.
In January 2007, Bodog dropped him as their official spokesman, despite having signed an endorsement agreement with him just a few months prior.
Even though many still consider him a phony, Jamie Gold has 1 WSOP bracelet and 4 money finishes to show, which means his victory couldn’t have entirely been an accident after all.