EXCLUSIVE: Jamie Gold Goes Heads-Up With Wicked Chops Poker
It's possible over the past seven months or so we've said some harsh things about Jamie Gold.
Granted, he, along with his monkey-fucking-a-football handlers, have deserved a good share of it.
Then, within days of winning poker's biggest event in one of the most dominating performances ever (aided by some insanely fortuitous flops, turns and rivers), a lawsuit filed by premature ejaculating, gun-jumping Crispin Leyser brought on one of modern poker's ugliest chapters.
A series of misteps in the press followed, as well as some unfortunate personal hardships.
Now, Jamie Gold is ready for a new beginning.
Last week after playing in the National Heads-Up Championship in Las Vegas and sharing on video what he thought of us, Jamie Gold sat with Wicked Chops Poker for a candid (and frankly, ballsy) interview on his rollercoaster year. Gold was honest, forthcoming and, as he put it, ready to step up as an ambassador for the game.
NOTE: After reading our WCP Heads-Up interview with Jamie Gold after the jump, visit Jamie Gold's Raw Perspective video on RawVegas.tv for more in-depth coverage.
WCP: What was your life like a year ago?
JG: A year ago I was just starting a TV studio with Mark Hughes and Jeff Greenfield called Buzz Nation and it was the dream of my life. I was also playing a lot of poker. And a year ago, I had already told my partners that I was going to take some time off to play the WSOP…because Johnny Chan convinced me that my style was so different from everyone else's and I actually had a shot at doing well.
So a year ago I was also being very concerned about my dad. I felt like it was getting near the end for him. It was five and a half years into his illness (ALS). Usually you don’t make it past a year or two. He was the last person from his support group who had survived, so I knew this would be the last year of my life with him. So…[pause]…it was a really tough year.
WCP: Was poker a way for you to escape the emotions of dealing with your dad's illness?
JG: It's funny you ask that because that's exactly what it was. If I wasn't at home in New Jersey and I had free-time, it [was a good escape]…I wish I could've spent more time with him. But yeah, poker was a great escape for me. I'm sure that's why I played every night. I didn't want to stay at home and think about it.
WCP: So what's your life like now?
JG: My life is really odd. People recognize me. I don't play poker very much any more. As much as I played before, and it became my favorite thing to do, I just don't play anymore.
After the [WSOP Main Event] a lot of things changed. I did a lot of interviews. It was insane. I never said no. But [my handlers at the time] also didn't tell me about a lot of interview requests. They'd write quotes that I never said. But I figured they knew what they were doing. So let them do it. It turned out though it all made me look like a dick.
So my life has become about just trying to do the right thing now.
I try to do every interview and every TV show. I never get paid. The only thing I got money for was [High Stakes Poker on GSN] and you still have to put up a LOT more of your own money to be on that. I don't need the publicity. But how can I say no to something in the poker world? You have a responsibility.
One cool thing I got to do was throw the first pitch out at a Dodgers' game. I grew up in New York but was the biggest Dodgers fan…I've gotten to meet every major poker player. I'm huge fans of some of these guys. I can’t believe I can actually sit down at a table with these guys. Well not all of them. I can't sit down at a table with a million dollars. I can't afford to lose a million dollars.
Obviously I had a lawsuit [with Crispin Leyser] that just settled. A big portion of my money went away. I gave most of the rest to my mother (seen here cheering her son on at the WSOP). My mother had gone into crazy debt after my father's illness. My dad wouldn't go to a hospital so we had all of the machines in the house.
WCP: You mentioned your lawsuit…that's obviously been a major event in your life since your WSOP win. Looking back at the situatiuon now, do you remember what your first impression of Crispin Leyser was like?
JG: Well I actually met his wife first [Jules, seen in photo below on far right]. I was immediately taken by her. She seemed like an amazing human being, and she immediately brought up Crispin. From the moment we met we were talking about [Crispin].
We were just starting [Buzz Nation] and I really wanted to meet somebody with fresh ideas. He was a development executive and everything she told me about him sounded like he was somebody I just needed to work with.
So I had met him and he was very honest with me. He said "We're not very fortunate in LA and we need to hook up with some kind of opportunity." He said "All we are doing is playing poker and it's not making us rich." So I asked him to send me some ideas and they were all very good but we didn’t take any. But I really liked him. We connected so quickly so fast. People always ask me, "How could you offer somebody you barely know half of your winnings?" But I liked the guy and trusted him.
That's why I was so freaked out when I got sued.
And that's why I fought back. I just couldn't believe it.
But the second we sat down to mediate it was settled. We personally never had any issues between us though. I had a lawyer and he had a lawyer and they both started screaming at each other and then wouldn't return each other's calls and the next thing you know I was being sued.
So it seems to me he got some really bad advice. But I got some bad advice too. And it was just a misunderstanding. It never should've happened.
And it overshadowed the excitement of what could've been from winning the World Series of Poker.
WCP: How big of a let down was that? You went on an almost unprecedented run as chip leader for a number of days, to winning, to being sued for half your winnings. It had to have tainted your win?
I don't know if it tainted it. For me…it bothered a lot of people around me.
In business I had accomplished everything I had wanted to do. My father was at the end of his life and was so proud of me when I won.
But with everything going on in my life, [the lawsuit] just didn't affect me that much. I had bigger problems to worry about.
But then when I got sued, everyone was like, "See, you were crazy for giving this guy your money." So I just hired a team of people to handle it for me. I should've paid more attention to what was happening but I didn't. I just went to New Jersey to see my family. See my dad. Get away from it all.
Of [my dad's] last three months I was with him two and half months. I spent as much time as I possibly could with him. People always ask me, "How come you didn't play any tournaments after you won?" Well I was with my dad. I played one tournament as a favor to Johnny [Chan] because I always had told him I would play it. And after that I didn't play. I know people were writing negative things about me that I wasn't more involved [in the poker scene], but I had bigger worries at the time.
Looking back, I wish I had though. All of the negative things written about me I could've done something about. There's people that think I'm a dick or a dishonest guy. I could've done something about it.
It sucks. Poker deserves a really high profile ambassador and I couldn't do it. I made some mistakes. I fucked some things up. I followed some bad advice. I hope I can change that now.
WCP: Since you've settled, have you talked to Crispin at all?
JG: We haven't. But I'd like to. My prediction is we'll be really good friends one day. It was such an odd misunderstanding.
WCP: As an ambassador of the game, what are you looking forward to do now that you have the time?
JG: I don't know what it is but I believe I can do something positive. I've agreed to do every charity event anyone has ever asked me to do. But I'm thinking about maybe creating my own that I can give to ALS research.
But ultimately I don't know. I wish I knew what to do or had a better answer. I just don't know yet.
WCP: What are your goals for this year's WSOP?
JG: I'd like to play in more than just the Main Event. I'm hoping to play in at least 10 events. But I'm not good enough at Stud or Omaha to do well in those. But I want to play in most of the hold'em events.
The Main Event is really important to me. My dream would be to stay in Vegas a month and play as much as possible.
I'd like to try and win a little bit of money just to say I've accomplished something in my second year.
But if I never won another tournament again in my life, I'd still have a pretty cool story to tell my grandkids.
WCP: But you had a track record of winning tournaments before this…
JG: Yeah but they were much smaller. The most I had ever won before was like $70,000. But it was still cool too.
WCP: Ok then so what's your prediction for you at this year's WSOP?
JG: I know this is the thing you guys are going to kill me on, but I think I'll make the final table this year. I know you're gonna slam me on this, but that's what I believe. If you don't believe that, then why are you playing?
Maybe it won't happen, but it'd be great if it did.
WCP: How have the pros on tour embraced you since your WSOP win?
JG: That's been the most unbelievable thing for me. During the World Series, near the end, I had never met Doyle Brunson, Chris Ferguson, Phil Hellmuth…and the first of those big names to reach out to me was Chris Ferguson. We realized we lived very close to each other and we bonded over that and I said 'Listen, I don't want to be inappropriate, but I'd like some advice." He said, "We've been watching you play for a few days now, and whatever you're doing, it's working for you. So don't take any advice from anyone. Especially from me.”
One interesting story…you know, when I went on High Stakes Poker, Mike Matusow approached me in the bathroom before the shoot. He said, "Listen, I'm going to destroy you."
I said, "Hey, if I get some cards…"
And he said, "It's not about the cards. I'm going to rip you apart. I'm the Mouth. People think you're the mouth now but I'm the Mouth. You're not taking that away from me I'm going to rip you apart."
I said, "Whatever. Do what you want to do."
And by the end of the whole thing, he actually shook my hand and said, "You know what, there's eight of us here and seven are really degenerate poker players. You're not one of us. You're actually really kind and a good guy and I don't know how to make fun of you. And that really pisses me off. I was hoping you'd be a dick.”
I told him if he'd hang out with me long enough, he'd find something wrong with me. And we laughed about it.
And Doyle destroyed me during that game. He approached me and told me to enjoy what I had done.
Guys like Gavin Smith took me out one time when I was at the Borgata. I was by myself and he took me in with all of his friends. So many people have been so kind to me.
WCP: Finally, what's your dream six-person table?
I don't think I ever want to play with Phil Ivey. He intimidates the shit out of me.
I hate playing with really tight players. I love the action. I enjoy playing with a lot of action guys.
Let’s see…Phil Laak is so much fun. He makes fun of me a lot but he's so much fun.
I love my home game guys. They're so much fun. It's Todd Philips, the guy who wrote and directed Road Trip and Old School and Borat. There's Dylan Sellars, a producer I play with. Sam Simon who created the Simpsons. Vince Van Patten who is one of the nicest guys in the world. I play with Gabe Kaplan almost every week. Houston Curtis who created the Backyard Wrestling videos. Those are the guys.
For everything we've ever written about Jamie Gold, good and bad, plus what he's said about us in the past, grab a beer, or Tab Energy drink if you're a chick, and head here. For past Wicked Chops Poker Heads-Up interviews, waste a day here.
For past Wicked Chops Poker Heads-Up interviews, waste a day here.