Jamie Gold was a polarizing force at the 2006 Word Series of Poker Main Event; his table talk, garish attitude, and aggression led him to win the highest prize ever awarded for a poker tournament. His $12 million prize has kept him the all time money winner for the WSOP. In fact, he won more than the cumulative prizes for all of the Main Event winners from 1971-1993. Gold beat a final table that included Allen Cunningham and eliminated every player except for Doug Kim. He held an insurmountable chip lead entering the final table, a whopping 29% of the chips in play.
Gold’s bracelet win marked the largest live tournament field in history with 8,773 entrants. The 2006 WSOP was the high water mark for Main Event fields flooded with pre-UIGEA online qualifiers. The historic field was so large that the prize pool was larger than all of the Main Events from 1970-2003 combined.
Gold, a brash producer from Malibu, was more movie star than poker player for ESPN’s cameras. His unusual tactic of telling opponents the truth about his hand awarded him pot after pot when opponents refused to believe him. “I was getting people to lay down sets and flushes. It was like a Jedi mind-trick. Anything I wanted people to do – they did it,” Gold said.
Since his Main Event win Gold has maintained a high profile on the tournament circuit. He has also appeared regularly on televised events like Poker After Dark and High Stakes Poker. Before his sudden stardom, Gold was a regular at the Commerce Casino and in Hollywood home games.
Gold’s Main Event bracelet is the only major tournament win in his record. Although, he was the first person to pass the exclusive $10 million mark. He has had marginal success since his win with four WSOP cashes since.
Gold had the advantage of two-time Main Event winner Johnny Chan counseling him throughout the tournament. Gold’s distinctive Cheshire grin and unrelenting aggression continues to have WSOP fans definitively split; they either love him or hate him.