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The Facts in Leyser vs. Gold WSOP $6M Lawsuit

Harrah's Restrained from Awarding WSOP Championship Winnings

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After receiving an inside tip from an informant within the regional justice center in Las Vegas on Tuesday morning, August 22, a local newspaper reported that a lawsuit was on file in Clark County District Court, with a claim against 2006 World Series of Poker champion, Jamie Gold.

Later that day, the story exploded and was picked up by almost every news medium across the U.S. and Great Britain. Rumors were rampant, blogs and forums were littered with assumptions and second-hand accounts. Every poker community and group was busy sharing various theories and analysis.

It seemed to this reporter that the only way to obtain the facts would be to secure a copy of the lawsuit, available as public record at the local courthouse. A trip to Harrah's corporate offices also seemed in order.

Here are the facts of Leyser vs. Gold and you are free to draw your own conclusions.

Crispin LeyserThe Plaintiff
Represented by Chesnoff & Shonfeld is Bruce Crispin Leyser, a former UK executive television producer who was drawn to Los Angeles in pursuit of sunshine, fame, and fortune. His focus was quickly diverted to another lifelong pursuit - gambling. After four years, Leyser had achieved moderate success. Then over the course of two weeks following the WSOP, he rose from being the subject of gossip, to world fame - while possibly acquiring a fortune.

The Defendant
Jamie Gold
Sam Isreal will represent 2006 World Series of Poker champion Jamie Gold. After dominating the action from day four to the final hand of the main event, this man has garnered the lion's share of press coverage by local, national, and international news media. Gold's name, title, and image are also splashed across the front page of virtually every poker magazine, poker blog, and online news site. His story now populates other media niches - some not as praiseworthy.

Two Flags and 34 Minutes
On Monday morning, attorney David Chesnoff filed a 28-page legal document with the Clark County District Court in Las Vegas on behalf of Crispin Leyser. The "Verified Complaint for Injunctive Relief and Damages" included an application for temporary restraint from the $12 million in WSOP championship winnings.

It took only 34 minutes for Chief District Judge Kathy Hardcastle to approve the application, requiring a $1,000 security deposit, lest the defendant suffer wrongful repudiation. Just two weeks prior, several hundred pounds of crisp, cool $100 bills poured freely over the felt of the final table. Now it's destined to remain imprisoned within Rio vaults for another 15 days (until Tuesday, September 5).

Common Facts

Gold and Leyser, both avid poker players, came together in July at the World Series of Poker at the Rio All Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. They first became acquainted in the television entertainment industry and shared other interests. Gold and Leyser discussed a possible television show venture, and Leyser claims they began to develop a relationship as a result of these conversations.

Gold described to Leyser his brand commitment to Bodog, an online poker website. Gold was required, under contract, to secure celebrities who would wear logo attire during the WSOP main event. This is a common practice by online poker rooms, as celebrities act as billboards that attract ESPN and other media, ensuring the Bodog brand is captured on film. In exchange for this service, Bodog agreed to pay Gold's entry into the WSOP $10,000 main event.

Leyser claims that Gold suggested he strike his own deal with Bodog, and says Gold also mentioned his seat might be up for grabs, since he had pressing work issues back in L.A. and might forgo playing in the main event. Leyser claims that Gold even offered to give the seat to him in exchange for a couple of celebrity billboards. This is when the alleged deal was struck, and the two agreed verbally, that whoever secured the seat would share in 50 percent of the winnings.

Leyser went off in search of celebrities. He returned with B-list actor Matthew Lillard, who played Shaggy in the Scooby Doo movies, and Dax Shepard, a comedian seen regularly on the television show Punk'd.

There was no deal struck between Bodog and Leyser.

Bodog insisted that Gold play the sponsored seat in the main event, according to their original agreement. Leyser expressed his disappointment at not being able to play and not knowing what his share of the prizepool might be. Since it was unknown until the fourth flight of the main event exactly how many players would participate, Gold could hardly muster an estimate. Leyser claims that this is when Gold assured him half of his winnings.

The $6 Million Phone Call
Gold played the main event of the WSOP, which spanned a two-week period. Gold gained a substantial chip lead early on, and on August 10, he'd maintained that lead going into the final table. That morning he called Leyser and left a message on his voicemail.

"Hey, it's Jamie. Thank you for your message. I slept pretty well so we should be fine. I have a real good plan on what to do for today. ThankJamie Gold you for all your help. I wanted to let you know about the money. You're obviously very well protected. Everything will be fine. But nothing's going to happen today, that's for sure. I have the best tax attorneys and the best minds in the business working for me from New York and L.A. And what we're probably going to do is set up a Nevada Corporation and it's going to… I have to pay out of the corporation. I can't just pay out personally because I could get nailed. So it might take a few days, so please be patient. I promise you, you can keep this recording on my word. There's no possible way you're not going to get you're half after taxes. So please just be with me. I can't imagine you're going to have a problem with it."

Gold then requested some space and privacy to allow him to focus on his game and the events of the day.

"I just don't want any stress about any money or any of that sh-- going on today, or even after the end of the day. I'm sure you're going to be fine. You're going to be very well taken care of, absolutely fairly. We're just trying to handle this properly and after now I don't even want to talk about it or think about it. But please just trust me. You've trusted me the whole way. You can trust me a little bit more. I promise you there's no way anybody will go anywhere with your money. It's your money. All right, I send you love. Thank you for your support."

Jamie Gold beat out the remaining eight players at the final table and was awarded the $12 million, the coveted championship bracelet, and a Corum diamond-encrusted gold watch. The money remained at the Rio and, even before the lawsuit and restraining order, Harrah's claims Gold has made no attempt to collect. Harrahs had contacted Gold before the lawsuit was filed, and Gold explained that lawyers and accountants were working out the final details.

Leyser is demanding $6 million. Gold hasn't paid. Leyser hired legal counsel and Gold followed suit. Leyser claims the breach of their contract has caused and will continue to cause him irreparable harm. He's also stated publicly, "if Gold obtains the total sum of the winnings, Leyser will suffer further irreparable harm." On page five of the complaint, Leyser claims that "Gold is a gambler and there is the possibility that he will dispose of the funds." Leyser also accuses Gold of intentionally causing him emotional distress, and that the act was outrageously beyond reasonable and prudent decency.

The restraining order expires 15 days after being granted and the hearing is set for September 1 at 9 a.m. under the conditions that Gold had been served by 5p.m. on Thursday, August 24.

Harrah's and the Rio are waiting for the courts to decide, or for the two to come to an agreement. But the cashiers at the Rio are ready to prepare "exhibit A," Form 5754. The form is used by casinos when more than one party shares winninings. This ensures each party accepts responsibility for taxes at the time of payout. Harrah's states that it has prepared the form for half the amount of the winnings, or $6 million minus other amenities, and Gold can collect this portion of the winnings as soon as the restraining order expires or has been lifted.

Neither Gold nor his attorneys have been available for comment. Gold is on a short vacation.

Click here for Jamie Gold's response to the above lawsuit.