As most of you know, Gold would never relinquish that lead and eventually became the reigning world champion. When I talked to him he seemed like a nice guy that was absolutely thrilled to be doing as well as he was in poker's big show. Since his big win, however, time and poker have not been as kind to Gold.
What do you do after you've won the Main Event? Well, if you were Joseph Hachem you became a celebrity, an ambassador for poker and basically play a lot of cards. Gold did not.
Many assumed that he would follow the same path as the guys who came before him, but Gold felt that he needed to be with his dying father, and barely played a tournament.
In addition to this he found himself embroiled in controversy when a fellow named Crispin Leyser filed a lawsuit claiming Gold promised him half of his Main Event winnings.
It was an ugly chapter to what should have been a happy ending. Many poker fans were calling Gold Hollywood scum. Eventually, the champ settled with Leyser and has since expressed an interest in being friends with his former foe.
Unfortunately a lot of damage to his credibility had already been done. This, combined with the fact he wasn't playing in tournaments, raised the ire of the poker world.
Jamie Gold is No Hero
Many people involved with poker see the winner of the Main Event as some sort of hero or savant. It is every poker junkie's dream to win the Main Event, become famous and play poker for the rest of their life.
Gold threw a wrench in that plan when he did none of the above. He had everything and seemed to be throwing it away.
Gold was the opposite of every other Main Event winner. He wasn't a small time accountant, he wasn't chiropractor - he was straight out of Hollywood. This was no rags-to-riches story.
In addition, Gold seemed to have the worst handlers in the business. He did interviews with almost every outlet he could, reputable or not, and his PR flunkies didn't give him any direction.
To make matters worse, whenever Gold did enter a tournament, he did terrible, usually getting knocked out in the first few levels. Many pointed to the fact that Gold hit an insane number of flops, turns and rivers in the Main Event, claiming his win was a fluke.
Jamie Gold, Ambassador?
It wasn't all luck, however, and some forget that Gold had to battle through adversity to earn his bracelet. Gold took a huge hit when Allen Cunningham stole roughly half his chips during the final table.
Members of the media said he hadn't taken a hit yet and predicted it would shatter his confidence. Ignoring those claims, Gold would go on to eliminate almost every player at the final table and win the Main Event.
A lot has happened since then and overall people have not been impressed with the talent agent from Malibu who won it all. What will the poker world's final verdict be? It's tough to say.
In recent interviews Gold has expressed regret for not being a more high profile ambassador to poker.
If Gold managed to have a good showing at this year's WSOP it would go a long ways to redeeming his reputation.
Will it happen? You'll have to wait and see.