The first thing Jamie Gold, the 2006 WSOP Main Event Champion, should do with his $12 million in prize money is give all of us who wasted $25 on the final table pay-per-view a refund, because he singlehandedly ruined the broadcast with his antics. Gold, a TV producer from Malibu, will probably go down as one of the most boorish, childish, and irritating champions the game has seen in a long time. Even Phil Hellmuth and Mike Matusow have nothing on this guy – at least when they preen and pout, it’s entertaining. Gold is just a prick. And one incredibly lucky prick at that.
Now, I’ll go on record and say that I was seriously hoping that a pro would win this thing. Whether it was some highly recognizable uber-name like Chris Ferguson or Phil Ivey, or a more obscure player like David Chiu or Ted Forrest, I think poker needed a top-level player to give the game some more credibility – after all, what’s the use of having this supposed “world championship” when everyone that the public knows about drop like flies on the first or second day?
So needless to say, I was pulling hard for Allen Cunningham, who started the day third in chips, to take Gold out and win the whole thing. But that was not to be – Allen just wasn’t able to get any long-lasting momentum the entire day. His chip count sagged from about two hours in until his all-in moment with Gold – Cunningham’s pocket tens against Gold’s KJs, which I’ll get to in a bit – caused him to go out in fourth place. But by that point, I just wanted someone to bust Gold, and I didn’t care if it was Allen Cunningham or Richie Cunningham.
Why am I so down on Gold, you ask? Let’s go over the reasons one by one:
1) Prior to the final table, Gold said point blank in an interview with ESPN that he wasn’t interested in being a poker ambassador (which the WSOP championship has basically crowned the last couple of years) and was actually considering tanking just so he could avoid the spotlight. For an event that has so much tradition and pageantry, it would be a travesty to coronate someone who doesn’t want the crown.
2) His behavior at the table was appalling. He’d yap like crazy at the other players when he was in a big hand. When he called someone’s all-in and discovered he was in the lead, he’d start celebrating like the hand was already won – then he’d start yapping at the dealer to make his hand stronger. And the best (worst?) part – towards the tail end of the night, Gold was shown a few times eating a bowl of blueberries with a spoon like it was freaking oatmeal.
3) The guy has more blind luck than any person deserves to have. Granted, he began the day with a large chip lead, a lead that became monstrous when the second-place player donked off all his chips to him with JJ against Gold’s QQ, so it stands to reason that Gold would play a lot of pots with speculative holdings, in the hopes of making a big hand. But Gold was catching so many miracle hands it wasn’t even funny. Any time Gold had two overcards to an opponent’s pocket pair, he would always – and I mean always – flop an overpair. There was one point were he had someone all in with AT and a T34 board, Gold had the 65, and like clockwork he spiked a 7 on the turn (which was immediately followed by him jumping up and down like an 8-year-old), giving him the 7 and clinching the hand.
Unfortunately, it was pretty much all over when Gold absorbed the second place player’s chips just before the dinner break. The only other player who showed any sort of interest in playing back at Gold was Cunningham, and he got short-stacked when he folded to another player’s bluff.
It was clearly obvious that I wasn’t the only one who was rooting for Gold’s demise, either. When Gold knocked out Cunningham, both Phil Gordon and Jennifer Harman said on the broadcast that the result of the hand had made them both sick. When Gold had his final opponent all-in on the last hand, Gordon started reciting the names of all the former champions, as if to invoke the intervention of the poker gods to prevent this from happening. When the inevitable occurred and Gold won, Gordon started talking in a very deadpan tone of voice how well Gold had played and how deserving he was of the championship. And as we all know, the only time a poker player is lying is when he’s moving his lips.
I don’t want to say that the pay-per-view was a total waste, since I did learn a lot from the commentary about the various tactics employed during a tournament, and watching as the day went on that these tournaments aren’t just the all-in-fests that you see on ESPN’s edited broadcasts.
I just wished that out of 8773 entrants, we could’ve found a more suitable champion.