Of all the World Series of Poker Main Event Champions, Jamie Gold may be the one whose taken the most heat in the tournament's entire 50-year history.
But instead of shrinking off into the sunset, Gold has stuck around: he's appeared on High Stakes Poker; shown up on NBC's Poker After Dark; and despite being well over a decade removed from his moment in the poker sun, he's still popping up on the major tournament circuit from time to time.
The long-asked question on everyone's mind is still remarkably the same, though: is he a poker "donk," as many like to call him, and a glutton for punishment, or is he legitimately a decent poker player with an undeserved bad rap and a proclivity for running bad bluffs?
The truth: Likely somewhere in between.
From Entertainment to Poker
The simple story: Jamie Gold is a Los Angeles-based television producer who got his start in cards in a competitive household with his poker-playing mother and his grandfather, who was a gin rummy champion.
After getting his bachelor's degree from the University of New York at Albany, where he graduated with honors, Jamie moved to California in 1991 to study entertainment law at UCLA.
Having obtained valuable work experience in the entertainment business when he interned at the J. Michael Bloom & Associates Talent Agency in New York City at the age of 16, Jamie immediately found work in L.A. as a talent agent, and over the years was an employee of several high-profile agencies.
He soon became known as the youngest franchised agent in the business - a feat he achieved at the age of 21 - and went on to co-found an agency in 1994. In 1996 he started his own firm, JMG Management.
Known around Hollywood for discovering new talent and developing the careers of up-and-coming artists, Gold has worked with actors James Gandolfini (The Sopranos), Felicity Huffman (Desperate Housewives), Jimmy Fallon (Saturday Night Live), Lucy Liu (Charlie's Angels) and Kristin Davis (Sex and the City).
Gold quit his career as a talent manager and began working as a television producer full-time. JMG, a small and personal company, had a slew of projects in development, including an untitled poker show featuring 2003 WSOP Main Event Champion Chris Moneymaker and 10-time WSOP bracelet winner Johnny Chan, a constant fixture at the 2006 Main Event final table as a friend and tutor to Gold and who cheered the champ on to victory together with Jamie's mother.
From Bodog Celeb to Main Event Champ
Jamie entered the 2006 World Series of Poker Main Event as a member of the Bodog.com celebrity team alongside actors Mekhi Phifer (ER) and Dean Cain (Lois and Clark). An unstoppable force at the tables throughout the event, Gold left his fellow celebrities in the dust as he surpassed player after player to make it the final table.
The truth of the matter is Gold dominated the last four days of play, continually increasing his chip stack at the expense of several more seasoned players, and throwing the weight of the big stack around like it was second nature.
No one could stop him, including respected pro and final-table competitor Allen Cunningham, one of seven players at the final table Gold himself knocked out.
All of a sudden, Jamie Gold was poker's World Champion.
Jamie Gold Post-WSOP Troubles
In the wake of his win, Jamie signed a two-year endorsement and production contract with his WSOP 2006 sponsor, Bodog.com. The agreement included the standard tournament buy-ins and promotional appearances as well as a $1 million television production deal.
In addition, Jamie was to host his own table on Bodog.com, where he was to play frequently with Bodog.com players. The deal wasn't to last, however, as Bodog Poker dropped Gold as a spokesperson in January 2007.
Also in the wake of his win: Fellow poker player Crispin Leyser filed a lawsuit staking claim to half of Gold's winnings and Harrah's froze his full payment until the matter was settled. Leyser claimed Gold agreed to pay him half for getting celebrities to wear Bodog.com gear; Gold claimed he agreed to a payout, but it certainly wasn't half, despite a voicemail he left on Leyser's phone indicating otherwise.
It didn't do much for his already somewhat maligned persona, both on the felt and off, and neither has a slew of mediocre finishes in all the tournaments he's played in since the WSOP. Nonetheless, two years later, the lawsuit was settled and Gold was free to circulate around the poker circuit.
Gold, in his first post-settlement interview, claims it was all a misunderstanding and easy to resolve once the two sat down together, although he says the settlement doesn't allow him to reveal the details.
In the same interview, he fessed up to a couple of etiquette breaches during the WSOP that also may have contributed to the vitriol directed at him by some of his fellow pros: He flashed a card to a competitor during a hand; he told a friend what he was holding so he wouldn't bust him out.
He apologized and asked for people to forgive him. As you can see in the video, it was an amazing sequence of events that was "just his time."
The Post-WSOP Years
After the buzz of Gold's WSOP performance and post-tourney troubles died down, Gold used his newfound fame to get himself a seat at some of poker's most prestigious tables.
He appeared on prestigious poker shows like on High Stakes Poker and Poker After Dark where even he poked fun at his less-than stellar reputation. At one point he says he just wanted to stake his claim as "the world's best bluffer" but he ended up down several hundred thousand dollars in the games.
As for tournament play Gold returned to the 2007 WSOP but busted on Day 1. He went much further in the WSOP Europe Main Event, finishing 35th overall.
He didn't play much throughout the next few years, dabbling in events in Vegas and Los Angeles, but primarily using poker fame to raise money in charity poker tournaments.
His most notable recent results include a 5th in a WSOP event in 2015 and a runner-up finish in a 2016 WSOP Circuit event in Los Angeles.
Prior to his World Championship win, Gold played live poker 40 hours a week at the Commerce, Bicycle and Hustler Casinos near L.A.. A self-proclaimed poker book junkie, Gold placed in a slew of tournaments in the L.A. area, including in the Bicycle Casino's Stars and Stripes tournament in 2006 where he won first place and $60,000.
Gold's total career earnings sit at just over $12.5m - most of which, obviously, came in just the one event.
Gold has attempted to launch several poker-related enterprises over the years, from branded poker rooms to a refurbished offshore casino in Florida but none have proven successful.
Gold still lives in Los Angeles and is president of his own entertainment company, Buzznation.