The Golden Boy: Jamie Gold at the Legends of Poker

Jamie Gold
Jamie Gold playing on Day 1b of the Legends of Poker on Season 6 of the WPT.

The poker world hasn't seen a whole lot of Jamie Gold since he took down the biggest cash prize in the game's history, catapulting himself to the top of the all-time winner's list, but after taking a bit of time off he's back and ready to do some damage.

Gold took a few minutes during a break in today's action to speak to about the past year and how he's feeling going forward.

Let's start by talking about your day. I saw you were seated next to Tuan Le; you guys were sitting next to each other at the last WPT Championship so you must have had a chance to get to know each other.

Tuan Le and Jamie Gold
Old friends.

It's been going well. It wasn't the best position to be seated in though. Last time I was on his left which made him so much easier to play against but this time he's on my left but we got into it in several hands and things just happened to go my way.

But I'm having a good day. I think I'm finally getting back in the zone. It was a really tough year for me. I lost my father and my mother got a tumor. So about ten of the twelve months after I won I didn't play any poker. I wasn't mentally prepared. I wasn't in the right place at all. I didn't play very well at the World Series. My head just wasn't in it.

Jamie Gold, Tuan Le

But I feel like I'm starting to get back in it. I was playing a lot of cash games and I realized that was screwing up my tournament play. So I took the last month off and didn't play any poker just to get focused.

So I warmed up for this with a couple small tournaments and I feel like I'm getting back to being the kind of player I need to be to even have a shot.

Jamie Gold
Good as Gold.

It kind of goes without saying but do you think there's a really big connection between where a player is mentally and the caliber of poker they can play?

Oh yeah, there's no question. If I'm even a little bit off I basically have no shot. I'm not as experienced as most of these other guys so in order to even have a shot I have to be at my best. And I feel like I'm back there now but I haven't been there in a year. But there're so many great players out there. I hope to get to that level in about ten years; I really think that's how long it takes.

What do you think is the part of your game that lets you, if not rise to their level, at least compete with all the great players you find in these events?

I think I have a pretty good ability to read people. That's probably my best skill. I usually know exactly where I'm at. I try to bluff people a lot when I think they're weak but a lot of the time I get called down now just because it's me. Before people knew me I could get away with so much. Nobody figured that I had it in me to bluff all the time but now people call me with almost anything.

So if I don't get a decent run of cards it makes it really difficult for me. But you just have to adjust your game. I'm playing a totally different kind of game now. I'm learning all the time and trying to get better and now I feel like I am. For the last year I wasn't.

My head wasn't in it and I was making a lot of mistakes and it just wasn't fun anymore. Poker was so much fun for me when I first started playing but after I won it just wasn't. It started to feel a lot like work. But now I'm really trying to find the fun again and I think I'm on the right path.

Where are you at in terms of chips and what are your plans going forward today?

I'm at $45,000 right now which I think is pretty good. I feel good with $45K and I've been the chip leader at both the tables I was at. I'm not in any danger of busting so if you don't see me tomorrow something went seriously wrong!

* * * * * * * * * * *

It is undeniable that your mental state has a huge bearing on performance at the poker table and trouble in your personal life can easily translate to poor results on the felt. In speaking with Gold it's clear that he is optimistic and looking forward. Admittedly, he's competing against players with far more skill and experience, so it'll be interesting to see how his game improves in the coming year.

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