WSOP Main Event Chip Leader Jamie Gold Unplugged
Bodog's Talented Chip Leader Talks Shop
"Let's hug it out, bitch" has become the calling card of Ari Gold, the ubercelebrity agent in HBO's hit show Entourage. Supposedly, Ari Gold's hyperaggressive and sometimes manic rants are what you might expect from a real-life former celebrity agent like current World Series of Poker main event leader, Jamie Gold, but the opposite is true. Unlike the often flighty and highly agitated Ari Gold character in Entourage, Jamie Gold, is a smooth, charismatic player from Malibu, California, who has taken the WSOP main event field to task. If he continues collecting chips at his current rate, he is a shoo-in to take home the bracelet and the $12 million first-prize.
Card Player caught up with Gold on his dinner break and put the television producer on the "hot-seat" hoping to find out what makes this chip leader tick.
Michael Friedman: How long have you been playing poker?
Jamie Gold: My whole life I've played five-card draw. But I've been playing seriously for the last two years.
MF: What first got you involved with the game?
JG: My grandfather was a gin rummy champion and he taught me every game except for Texas hold'em.
MF: Did anyone or anything else influence your game?
JG: Two years ago, while I was working as an agent for a number of top celebrities, I met Johnny Chan. I promised him that I would help him sell a book and a television show if in return he would teach me how to play poker. He helped me a little bit. He doesn't really like to share a lot, so I just started reading everything I could on the game and started playing in smaller tournaments. I started playing events at the Hustler Casino in L.A., and eventually went on to win six smaller tournaments.
MF: Has anyone else other than Chan influenced your game?
JG: A former professional football player and very good friend of mine, Jeff Grau, had a big impact on my game. He was an amazing poker player who just got burned out and wanted to go back and play football again. He probably influenced my tournament game the most.
MF: What do you do outside of playing poker?
JG: Poker's not my real job. Right now, I'm producing branded television shows. I'm working with two great guys on a company called Buzz Nation, a branded entertainment media and production company. My partners, Jeff Greenfield and Mark Hughes, are awesome. I give them credit for letting me come here and play. These guys are big players in their particular fields and they gave me time because they believed I really had a chance to win. I'm here because of them.
MF: What do you take from the other jobs that you bring to the felt?
JG: I think my perception of people. People have always told me I have exceptional people reading skills. For some reason, I seem to be able to get a good read on other people's hands. I've called a lot of hands knowing I have ace-high, knowing I have the best hand. I think I'm just use to dealing with really difficult people. Celebrities are difficult and so are poker players, but I'm used to it. I'm also very competitive.
MF: Who are some of the clients you represented?
JG: James Gandolfini, Lucy Liu, Brandy, Felicity Huffman, and Kristin Davis.
MF: So with all that work, how much time do you put in on your game?
JG: Mainly, I played three to five times a week for the last year. Every vacation I've taken was just to play poker, but this is my first time playing in the World Series.
MF: What are your thoughts on playing in such a big field like the main event?
JG: I haven't found it very hard, but I have found it to be heartbreaking that most people are playing "donkey" or what I would call jack-ass poker. They just make really bad calls and get lucky. Out of 200 people that play really poorly, 20 of them are going to rise to the top. All of a sudden, you have all these guys that aren't great poker players.
I aspire to be a great poker player and I take it seriously. I feel like every play I'm making is the smartest play and the right play, yet I've never won a pot with more than $150,000 in chips. I've lost $300,000 pots constantly. Five times I went to the river as the favorite and lost all five. I feel like I've earned my chips while other people are just getting lucky left and right. I haven't gotten lucky yet, but if luck comes my way, I feel like I can win this thing.
MF: Which is more important, the bracelet or the money?
JG: The bracelet, no question. I've been fortunate enough to make a lot of money through work. I don't need the money. I'm here for the competition.
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