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In 2006 Jamie Gold put on the poker performance of a lifetime and now, almost a decade later, he looks back on the week that changed his life forever. Gold defeated 8,772 other poker players to win $12 million, an amazing feat just in itself. But it was the way that Gold did it that makes it by far the most exciting Main Event victory since Chris Moneymaker. A Hollywood agent by trade, Gold had an uncanny ability to get inside his opponents' heads. When he was bluffing he talked them into folding. When he had the nuts he talked them into calling. It was truly a masterclass in live poker table-talk. A lot of things had to come together for Gold to even play in the 2006 Main Event, let alone win it. He had been working hard on his poker game playing smaller tournaments in Los Angeles, and managed to score a last-minute spot on Team Bodog which paid his buy-in in exchange for his help networking with Hollywood celebs. Gold didn't go completely wire-to-wire but he came damn close. To hear him tell it, he wasn't at risk of elimination a single time after Day 1. Check out the latest Best Poker Moments with Jamie Gold to get the full story of the biggest World Series of Poker Main Event in history.
I believed I was actually going to win it which is crazy, thinking back now that I actually thought I was going to win the Main Event. But things all went my way. I got lucky and it happened.
In 2006 I had been training really hard to play my first Main Event, which that was. I worked really hard at it. I'm not saying I deserved but I had really worked up to the point where I was talking people in and out of their hands and doing something no one had really done before.
And that's when Johnny Chan said, “You're not just going to win this thing. You're going to wipe it out. This is your year.”
I was playing the best poker I could play. I was nowhere near the best poker player in the world but I was just playing the best I could play. Everything was working. If I had the best hand they'd pay me off. If I was trying to get them to lay it down, they'd lay down. If I got it in with the best of it, I didn't get unlucky. Most of the time I got it in with the best of it but it's not as if I played perfectly. I ran really good.
I put enough pressure on people and got lucky that people would constantly lay down the best hand to me. Seven or eight days straight I was the chip leader. Even on the final day I never lost the lead so I was never at risk. Going through a tournament never at risk of being out of the tournament is pretty crazy.
It gives you an incredible amount of confidence and I could also play a really big-stack poker unlike any other time I've ever been in a tournament. Sometimes it's just your time and that happened to be my time. It was 8,773 players back then in the Main Event. There was almost $90 million in the prize pool.
I wanted to win the World Series of Poker. Doing it on my first shot out saved me a lot of time and energy. My life has completely changed. I try to make as much money so I can donate as much money. I'm really lucky. I have great sponsors, great support, great friends and family. My life is just very fortunate.