The first few months as World Champion of Poker have been both hectic and dramatic for Jamie Gold. He has been sued for half his $12 million prize money, and received criticism about the way he played in the 2006 World Series of Poker (WSOP). However, Gold himself takes comfort in the fact that he was the dominating chip leader for most of the Main Event, and says that his win was "about as clearly deserved as any victory could possibly be". In an exclusive interview with PokerListings.com, Jamie Gold talks about life as World Champion, his future as a Bodog.com poker pro, how he will use most of his WSOP winnings to help his sick father, what he thinks about celebrities playing poker on TV, if he will be tutoring Johnny Chan now, and much more.
How do you feel about your victory in the WSOP Main Event with a little distance to it all?
I'm actually a little amazed that I was able to maintain my focus everyday, all the way through it. It's a bit of a blur, but mostly I just remember taking it one table at a time.
Will the victory have a great impact on your life?
It looks like it's going to have a bigger impact than I had originally planned. I still want to continue my work with Buzz Nation but I will also be playing poker as a pro on Bodog.com. Most people are shocked when I say this but I just love my day job too much to quit for good.
How will the WSOP victory affect your every day poker?
I will probably be trying my hand at some higher stakes poker. I will also definitely be playing more. I love the game and I find I can't give up this opportunity to play it more often.
Do you think you will be able to put in the same amount of effort into the game when the potential winnings are negligible in comparison?
I'm competitive by nature. If the prize money for the WSOP had been $50,000 I would've put in exactly the same effort. I was worried about all the attention I would get if I did win it but I also knew that once I'm at the table I can't help but play my absolute best.
What do you plan to do with all the money you have won?
I'm going to use most of it to make my dad's life more comfortable. He has ASL (Lou Gherig's Disease) and I always had his needs in the back of my mind whenever I thought of the possibility of winning the WSOP. The money will go a long way to improving his quality of life.
Would you like to do any further comments, besides the official statement you made, regarding the lawsuit Bruce Crispin filed against you?
My statement says it all.
Does money change people?
Absolutely. I knew that going into the WSOP though. It's impossible to live in L.A. without seeing what it can do to people.
To how great an extent do you feel that the WSOP victory was "deserved", and how much was "positive variance"?
I think it's about as clearly deserved as any victory could possibly be. I'm very proud of the fact that I held the chip lead from Day 3 on. Considering anything can happen in poker I think it says a lot to maintain a chip lead for so long in the biggest poker tournament ever.
Are you afraid of becoming another one of poker's one hit wonders?
I would definitely like to prove that I'm a winning poker player. I don't stay awake at night worrying about my future performances though because I know I can play the game well.
How do you rate yourself as a poker player?
I think I play a very solid game but I also know that players like Daniel Negreanu are in a whole different field. I sat next to Daniel in the WSOP for a while and he really stood out as one of the few people I couldn't push around. He has an uncanny ability to read his opponents. He's truly amazing.
You have said in interviews that you don't have a playing style, and that you change your game based on the players you're playing against. How have you gained these reading skills?
Well those are skills that I've honed as an agent and producer. I'm constantly having to read people, gauge what they know while trying not to reveal too much of my own metaphorical hand. Adapting to the person you're dealing with at any given moment is a prerequisite in my line of work.
As the ruling WSOP champion you will be the Face of Poker for a year to come. What does this imply to you; and how do you intend to promote the Great Game?
I'm going to be working closely with my original WSOP sponsor, Bodog.com. I've been bombarded with interview requests from bloggers to some of the biggest names in television. I'm being selective in what I agree to do because I'm acutely aware of the potential for overexposure and burnout. I've seen it happen. It isn't pretty.
How will you personally try to take advantage of being world champion of poker?
I think I will do some commercials for Nike. Actually I'm mainly going to use it as an excuse to play more poker. Once I've had some time to relax and get my head above water, I'll definitely be playing a lot more.
You have a suiting last name for someone who has won $12 million. Is that something you will try to use?
It's not something that I need to try to use at all. Every journalist in the world seems to be doing that for me. I don't think I've read one article about me that hasn't played off my name. So, no. I don't think I'll be trying to use it. It's already being done for me.
Tell us more about your collaboration with Bodog Poker? Will you be playing more online poker as result of that?
Bodog's been great. We're working closely together now. I recently signed a two year deal making me an official Bodog Pro, to represent them. I'll even have my own poker table where Bodog players can play against me.
What in your poker career, apart from your WSOP victory, are you most proud of?
The WSOP victory itself wasn't even the most satisfying part of that whole experience. I was just really happy with the way I played all the way through. The Final Table worked out really well for me and I played well, but I'm happiest with the consistency of my WSOP performance right from the first day of the Main Event.
What is your relationship with Johnny Chan? Will you be tutoring him now?
Haha, no I definitely won't be tutoring him. Johnny Chan, like Daniel Negreanu, is one of the great masters of poker. I've got one bracelet and he has ten. Ten bracelets is an amazing accomplishment and it reflects the quality of player that Johnny Chan is. Johnny and I are still close and I hope to continue to learn from him.
As a TV producer, what is your opinion regarding the numerous TV-shows where celebrities play poker?
I think it's a natural extension of both the Reality TV and Poker explosions. A celebrity presence in any show will always increase viewer interest so why not in poker. Part of poker's huge leap in popularity is that anyone can play so it's not difficult to find celebrities willing to play. It's probably a lot more difficult to find celebrities willing to risk looking foolish for a dancing or singing show.
Would you like to be involved in producing poker drama for TV?
It's a possibility, but I would only do it if it was an exceptional concept. There is so much poker on TV now that I wouldn't want to just throw something together, it would have to really stand out.
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