Childhood and career
After having lived in Manhatten for a while, the family moved to Paramus, New Jersey, where Jamie was raised by his mother and step-father. Due to his extraordinary SAT results (a standardized test in the USA, mainly taken by students applying to university) with a score of 1,300 Jamie Gold had the option to go straight to college in grade six. He refused to do so, though, because he did not want to be “uncool” and rather spend time with kids his own age.
At the age of 16, Jamie already was able to attain an internship at the renowned J. Michael Blooms & Associates Talent Agency in New York. After graduating from the State University of New York in Albany he moved to California in 1991. There he studied Entertainment Law at the University of California (UCLA) in Los Angeles. Because of the valuable experience he gained during his job placement at the acclaimed New Yorker talent agency, he was accepted by several well-known agencies in Los Angeles.
At age 21, he was one of the youngest agents in the industry working with stars such as Felicity Huffman (Desperate Housewives), Lucy Liu (Charlie’s Angels), Kristin Davis (Sex and the City), and James Gandolfini (The Sopranos). Several years later he worked for Universal Studios on the production of a TV show. Today, Jamie Gold works as a television show producer and spends most of his time heading a company called Buzznation that produces reality shows.
First steps into the poker scene
His love for card games was already established as a child. His mother and grandfather, with whom he played poker and gin rummy, laid the foundation for Jamie’s later poker career. His success as an internationally renowned poker player, though, he owes not just to his mother and grandfather, but also to Johnny Chan, who he had always been a fan of for a long time. The two got to know each other while working together with Chris Moneymaker on a poker television show, just as Jamie Gold was beginning to learn how to play no-limit. Gold asked Chan to turn him into a great poker player, and in return Jamie would help him out in the entertainment industry. As his mentor, Johnny taught Jamie all kinds of poker tricks. Yet the poker show that the two were working on was not nearly as successful as the poker lessons that Johnny Chan gave his “student” Jamie Gold.
In 2005, Jamie took part in the World Series of Poker (WSOP) for the first time, and continued to make it to many final tables after that. In April of 2005, he won his first big no-limit Texas Hold’em tournament that earned him $ 54,225.
The big win
At the 2006 WSOP, he turned the poker world upside down: he reached the final as big stack (player with at least 30% more chips than the player with the second highest amount of chips at the table). This allowed him to play extremely aggressively and eliminate Paul Wasicka to win his first Golden Bracelet at a WSOP main event. In the course of winning this major event and the Golden Bracelet he managed to beat seven highly professional opponents, including Allen Cunningham and a total of 8,772 players.
This victory earned him an amazing $12,000,000 – the highest amount ever paid out at a sports event so far (Dec. 2007).
At the beginning of this heads-up duel between Jamie Gold and his competitor Paul Wasicka in the final phase of the 2006 WSOP, the odds already were in favour of Gold. While Gold had more than 78 million chips, Wasicka only had 11 million chips to work with. This meant that Gold had a head start with chip odds of 7:1 in the final game against Wasicka.
In the deciding hand Jamie made a pre flop raise of 1.7 million chips and Wasicka called. The flop turned out to be Q♣, 8♥ and 5♥. Paul Wasicka bet 1.5 million and Gold went all in. Paul Wasicka hesitated and Gold tried to get him to call. By assuming that he had found a weakness in Jamie Gold, Wasicka – holding 10♥ and 10♠ – called. Jamie Gold jumped up euphorically as he showed his Q♠ and 9♣, certain he had won the final hand with a pair of queens.
Turn and River brought A♦ and 4♣, so on the fourth day of the tournaments, on August 10, 2006 Gold was crowned 2006 WSOP winner, which surprised not only complete laymen but also poker experts.
After a final table that lasted more than thirteen hours, seven hands in the heads-up stage were enough to establish a new world poker champion. Nevertheless, it should be taken note of that part of the reason for Gold’s success at the 2006 WSOP was his great experience at large tournaments in brick and mortar casinos, which set him apart from most of his opponents at the final table, except for Allen Cunningham.
Even before this sensational win, Jamie Gold had signed a two year contract with Bodog, an online poker room, which – apart from buy ins for various tournaments and advertising campaigns – also included a television production worth one million US dollars. Today, he plays at PPNPoker.
In succession to the 2006 WSOP, a scandal was exposed that overshadowed Gold’s win. The producer, Crispin Leyser, sued Gold and brought the lawsuit before the district court of Las Vegas, demanding half of Gold’s 2006 WSOP winnings. Crispin Leyser claims Jamie Gold had promised him that he would get a seat at the WSOP from Bodog for getting several celebrities to advertise for this online poker room during the 2006 World Series of Poker. But Bodog had decided to only give away one seat for the WSOP, which of course went to Jamie and so Jamie promised to split the winnings with Leyser. In the hearing, even the US district court judge Roger L. Hunt confirmed that Leyser had good chances of winning the case.
A press statement in 2007 disclosed that both parties agreed to settle the lawsuit outside of court. The press handout stated “…Jamie and Crispin are happy to report that they have fully settled this matter. They are pleased to be closing this chapter and look forward to continued success.” Gold could now access half of his winnings, which had been frozen until the lawsuit was settled. The other half, which now belonged to Leyser, had been put in administrative trust until a final certified document confirmed the settlement outside of court. And so it seems that the unpleasant affair had finally come to an end.
Nevertheless, this has not really had a positive effect on the poker world since poker players are already stereotyped as cheaters who should not be trusted, and the incidence might just have strengthened this bias of the public.
Not only as a result of these happenings it seems that Jamie Gold, at least in the online poker world, does not have many fans and supporters. The “Official Jamie Gold is an Asshole” thread in the “Rounders Room Poker Forum”, where poker fans have the opportunity to vent or rant about Jamie Gold, gives evidence to this. Here, a member of the forum calls Gold too stupid to understand how lucky he was to win the WSOP. Another member accuses Gold of looking down at his opponents and of running them down after defeating them.
On January 25th, 2007 Bodog ended their business relationship with Jamie Gold, because the persons in charge decided to cease all offline marketing initiatives in the USA and conquer the European and Asian markets. Despite this public declaration the Americans Davie Williams and Josh Arieh, as well as the Canadian Evelyn Ng remained members of team Bodog.
Apart from Jamie’s numerous television show production contracts and appearances on poker shows such as Poker after Dark on NBC and High Stakes Poker during the third and fourth seasons on GSN, he attempted to defend his title as WSOP champion at the 2007 WSOP. He did not manage to do so though, and was eliminated on the first day.
Away from the poker tables
Jamie Gold does not talk much about his personal life and he hates being at the centre of attention. As a television show producer, he is used to working in the shadows of other bigger celebrities and therefore wants to avoid having cameras follow him every step that he takes. He says,
"I’ve always been behind other people. I like making other people famous. I’m not comfortable being in the spotlight. I like my private life. I also don’t want to be responsible for being the ambassador of poker or anything like that. What Greg Raymer does is amazing. Good for him. I’m not looking to quit my job. I like the job that I do. I don’t need the money. I’m not doing this for the money. I love the competition."
In another statement he reiterates this opinion by stating,
“I know what fame does to people. It’s not that I can’t handle it; I don’t want it.”
In 2006, Jamie Gold’s beloved step-father, who he considered his real dad, became sick and was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s syndrome, a fatal motor neuron disease. After a long and weary battle, he finally passed away on December 13th, 2006. During this time, as a result of his father’s illness and suffering, Jamie Gold was not able to participate in many tournaments because he wanted to be at his father’s side during this difficult time. After this tragic experience Jamie Gold decided to organize a charity poker tournament, the profits of which would go towards all those suffering from Lou Gehrig’s syndrome.
Jamie has always felt that it is important to make a difference and he enjoys helping out with charitable donations. He himself has already been “auctioned-off” plenty of times and took part in guest performances for various television productions. Amongst others, he also took part in “Ante Up For Africa” and Andy Roddick’s Charity Poker Tournament. Today, Jamie Gold lives in Malibu, California near fellow poker celebrity, the 2000 WSOP winner Chris Ferguson.
Jamies formula for success
Thanks to his experiences working with actors on a daily basis his ability of reading other people is uncanny and he seems to have a natural talent for guessing what cards his opponent holds. During a tournament he will talk incessantly while on the inside he is calculating his chances of winning. Jamie Gold is an exceptionally professional poker player, who can adjust 100% to any opponent. After his triumph at the 2006 World Series of Poker, he was very grateful to his team of supporters and thanked them by saying,
"I got lucky. I played the best poker of my life. I feel real fortunate that the cards came my way.... This never would have happened without these amazing people who love for [sic!] me and care for me. I have the greatest group of people around me. There's no question that this would not have happened without them. I'm very needy. I needed massages, water, blueberries, and food. They kept me sane, happy, and focused. I feel like the luckiest guy in the world. Not because of winning the championship, but because of them. These people believed in me for a very long time."
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