His Kind of Gold:  Cliff Goldkind Bags $559,514 in WSOP Debut

College Student Wins Poker’s Most Coveted Prize

Winner Set to Start Masters Program at Tufts University

Kennii “the Joker” Nguyen Finishes as Runner-Up

Solid Turnout for 1500-Level Events – 2,302 Entrants

Nineteen Gold Bracelets Won – 42 More at Stake!


Las Vegas, NV (June 11, 2012) -- Cliff Goldkind, a 24-year-old student from Potomac, Maryland won the most recent World Series of Poker event, held at the Rio in Las Vegas.

Goldkind's debut victory took place in the $1,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold'em competition, classified as Event #19.  He collected the whopping sum of $559,514 in prize money, in addition to the most coveted trophy on poker -- a WSOP gold bracelet.

The tournament was played over a three day period, starting with 2,302 entrants.  The final table of nine players concluded Monday evening in the relatively rocket-fast time of less than four hours.  The runner-up was Kennii Nguyen, playing the role of poker's court jester.  The incessantly talkative Nguyen wore a colorful joker hat during most of the tournament.  He earned a very respectable $347,036 in prize money -- his biggest score ever.

The new poker champion, Goldkind, was born in Tampa, Florida.  He lived in Israel for a number of years and served in the Israeli Army.  In fact, he was honorably discharged just four months ago, back in February.

Remarkably, this marked the first time Goldkind has ever cashed in a WSOP tournament.  He did manage to final table a WSOP Circuit event held two months ago, but nothing compared to the astounding breakout victory achieved by a WSOP first-timer.  

Name:  Cliff Goldkind

Birthplace:  Tampa, Florida (USA)

Age:  24

Childhood:  Florida/Maryland (USA)

Current Residence:  Potomac, Maryland (USA) – Washington, DC area

Marital Status:  Single

Children:  None

Education:  Graduated from Washington University in St. Louis

Profession:  College Student

Number of WSOP Cashes:  1

Number of WSOP final table appearances:  1

Number of WSOP gold bracelet victories (with this tournament):  1

Best Previous WSOP finish:  None (one WSOP Circuit cash – 4th)

Total WSOP Earnings:  $559,514

Personal Facts:  Served in the Israeli Army (2010-2011)


Question:  Your background is fascinating.  Give us the story about that, please.
Goldkind:  I went to college at Washington University in St Louis.  And then I graduated from there, and kind of decided, as I was graduating, that I was going to serve in the army.  So I had a little over a year between when I decided and when I was actually drafted.  So I played poker during that time as my income for seven months in the U.S. and then for a while in Israel.  And then until the end of this February I was in army.  Then I got out, travelled a bit, came home, and then came to Vegas.

Question:  Do you have dual citizenship? Or did you live in Israel for a while?
Goldkind:  If you’re Jewish, then you can volunteer to serve -- I got a visa and served.  If I wanted to gain citizenship though, I could just sign some papers and have it.

Question:  Would you talk about that commitment?
Goldkind:  I guess I felt like I had a commitment because I’m Jewish and any Jew can automatically gain citizenship in Israel.  Kind of as a safety net for Jews around the world like what happened in WWII happens again.  It’s a mandatory draft over there.  Every 18-year-old man and 19-year-old girl go and serve, and so I had a responsibility to do that also.

Question:  What does the bracelet mean to you?
Goldkind:  It’s huge, obviously. That’s why everybody comes here. It’s big, it’s big.

Question:  It was quite a fast final table.  Why do you feel the table played out that way?  Do you think the pace helped you?
Goldkind:  I guess it helped in that the reason it was fast was that there was big hands and I had a bunch of them.  So it wasn’t necessarily the speed.  There was a lot of hand over hand type stuff.  There were several real aggressive players. The blinds were also big so people had to shuffle out and they did.

Question:  This is a huge field with more than 2,300 players.  It must feel good coming out on top knowing you probably played well and you were also get in some good situations.
Goldkind:  I felt like I played well. There was a couple of times on day one where I was down under ten big blinds where I got it in a span of 20 minutes in a three to one favorite twice and lost both of them to beat both times down to around 10 big blinds and was able to chip up and win a couple important all-ins. It was a roller coaster all day too. So you have to win some important spots to get through a huge field.

Question:  How many WSOP events have you played?
Goldkind:  This is my first series and my fourth event.

Question:  Any success in the other three?
Goldkind:  I didn’t make a dinner break until this event.

Question:  Talk about going into the first day and the expectations.  Was it – “just let me make the money?”
Goldkind:  I don’t really care about just making the money. I didn’t actually know the payouts.  I never looked at the payouts.  I know what it is now.  I haven’t seen them on paper even.  That helps because you’re just thinking about playing right and moving up in places.  I’m not thinking about dollar signs in my head.  I’m just playing.

Question:  What are your career ambitions?
Goldkind:  My degree was in business in game theory applications.  Like economics and game theory.  I’m starting graduate school in the fall.  Which is still what I want do.  I’d like to keep playing poker.  I’m going to more tournaments.  I want to work that into my life, but there are other things I want to do as my career.

Question:  Where are you attending graduate school?
Goldkind:  I’m going to Tufts in Boston.  It’s an international relations school for international development.  It’s a mix of economics and international relations.

Question:  What’s your dream job?
Goldkind:  I would like to start my own kind of private equity firm, with the notion that it invests in development projects in third-world projects.  If I had a dream job that’d be it.


This was classified as WSOP schedule Event #19, since it’s the 19th gold bracelet of 61 to be awarded this summer in Las Vegas.  The tournament was played over three consecutive days and nights, starting on Saturday at noon and concluding Monday night.

The final table began at 6 p.m. and ended at 9 p.m.  At about three hours, this was the quickest final table of the year, so far.  

Barry Shulman, two-time gold bracelet winner and 2009 WSOP Europe Main Event champion, was the only former title holder at the final table.  He finished in eighth place.

Among the very few former gold bracelet winners who cashed were Sam Stein and Cliff Josephy.

The official WSOP gold bracelet ceremony takes place on the day following the winner’s victory (or some hours later when the tournament end very late).  The ceremony takes place inside Brasilia.  The ceremony begins at the conclusion of the first break of the noon tournament.  The ceremony usually starts around 2:20 p.m.  The national anthem of the winner’s nation is played.  The entire presentation is open to public and media.  Video and photography is permitted by both public and members of the media.