WSOP Main Event winner Jamie Gold talks openly about his experience when winning the big one: “I spoke to a couple of other past world champions and they warned me about the threats you get when you’re chip leader in the latter stages”

Jamie Gold, the ex-WSOP World Champion, gets a grilling

The player

Former TV agent Jamie Gold won last year’s WSOP Main Event in spectacular fashion, leading the field for five days and knocking out pro Allen Cunningham at the final table. But his $12m win was tarnished by a squabble over the money with pal and TV producer Crispin Leyser. The situation has now been settled and after a successful appearance on High Stakes Poker, Gold heads to Vegas intent on defending his title.

It’s nearly a year ago since you won the WSOP. What do you think when you look back on it?

I went to the Main Event with the belief that I could win it. But at the dinner break on the first day, I really thought it was all over. I was down to about 3000 after a series of outdraws. Then there was a hand where I think the board was 10-J-Q. A guy had gone all-in. I had bottom set, but it wasn’t an easy call as there were so many things that could be beating me. Winning that hand put me right back in the game. After that, I built my stack up to 50,000, and was one of the chip leaders. I would have been very happy getting to the second day with 50k, as that would have put me near the top, but I got moved to a table with two other equally big stacks. We really didn’t want to go up against each other, but I got involved in a massive pot with one of them which took me to around 100,000, so I started Day 2 as one of the chip leaders. From then on, I knew I’d be okay.

How were you feeling mentally when you went deep at the WSOP? Any event over two days and we start to fall apart…

(Laughs) I used to be like that. After a two-day tournament I’d be mentally and physically exhausted and would need to take a break for a while. At the WSOP, I was really disciplined and looked after myself. I went to bed early, even though I couldn’t sleep, because I was running hands through my head continually.

Late in the Main Event we were on our way to the tournament room, when we nearly got whacked by one of your bouncers. Why did you have them?

I spoke to a couple of other past world champions and they warned me about the threats you get when you’re chip leader in the latter stages. If something happened to me then all my chips would go to the other players. ESPN advised me to get bouncers for the last two days. People seemed to think that I’d hired a troop of them, but I only had two. The big guys who you saw me with are some of my closest friends. The guy who was next to my mom in the final is about 6ft 5in, covered in tattoos, and we’ve been friends for over 20 years.

If it was like that before you won the WSOP, then afterwards it must have been magnified; did everyone want a piece of you?

Oh yes, it’s so litigious in America. You can’t move without someone finding an excuse to try and sue you if they think you’ve got money.

Which brings us to the recently resolved court case between you and Crispin Leyser…

It never actually went to court. As soon as we sat down together, it was resolved.

You must have felt an enormous sense of relief when that got cleared up.

Honestly, it never affected me. These things only get to you if you let them. The way the legal system works is that things take a long time. It looks like it took a long time to resolve, but it actually didn’t. It just took a while to sit down.

So while all the incessant talk of the legal situation and your reputation was in question, you were able to detach yourself?

Oh yes, I was having a great time. I got to buy my family and friends nice things. I spent time with my dad before he died; I threw a ball at the Dodgers game and hung out with friends. It’s only a problem if you let these things get to you.

There’s a thin line between arrogance and confidence. Largely, the way you’ve been portrayed and your behaviour at the WSOP has opened you up to the general consensus that you’re arrogant.

That’s true, but I’m really not like that.

Was that part of the reason for you taking part in High Stakes Poker? Not only do you get to play with the top pros, but they and the public get to know you and see you’re a decent guy…

Yes, and the fact that it’s such an honour to play with those people. Next to them, I know nothing, and I’m still learning. Every time I sit down to play, I learn something new. I go to bed at night recapping hands, thinking how I could play them better. I’m humbled playing with them.

Are you enjoying it, because whenever I’ve watched, you look a bit bemused?

Yeah, I am! I love it. I never thought I’d be sitting down with those players as their peers. I was up on the game, too, until one hand with Doyle. He took all my profit away as he outplayed me. He’s Doyle Brunson; he’s a legend and I don’t mind losing to him.

As reigning champion how do you fancy your chances of doing the double? I heard you say you know you’re going to make the final table again.

I think I’ve got a chance at making the final table again. Plus I’ve been practising other types of poker online, such as Omaha and Stud, so I’m going to play some of the other events.

Are you planning to come to London for WSOP Europe?

Absolutely. I’m really excited as I’ve never been to Europe before. Be sure to come and say hello.

We interview poker legends like Jamie Gold all the time in PokerPlayer magazine so grab a copy HERE

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