Jamie Gold holds the distinction of winning the biggest World Series of Poker Main Event ever, in terms of field size, prizepool and winner’s share, and while he’s been a presence in years past at the WSOP and various other poker tours and televised events he’s largely been absent for all but the big one in recent memory.
It came as something of a surprise to most, then, that Gold found his way to the final table of Event 59, a $1,500 No Limit Hold’em event. He held the chiplead at several points in the leadup to the final day and ultimately finished in fifth place.
“Yeah, it was fun, and it was definitely much more exciting than the other couple of final tables that I made this year,” said Gold. “There’s nothing like the World Series of Poker. I played really well for three days, but then I didn’t love the way that I played at the final table.”
As Gold alludes to, he started jumping back into playing some tournaments just after the 2014 WSOP Main Event. He made deep runs in a $500,000 Guaranteed WSOP Circuit Event in West Palm Beach in July and stepped it up to another level with a deep run in the WPT bestbet Bounty Scramble in November.
“About a year ago, I decided that I wanted to kind of make a comeback,” said Gold. “Not that I ever disappeared, but I never took poker very seriously after I won the Main Event, because that’s all I ever wanted to do. I took it so seriously until I won the Main Event and then I really took time away from it, besides playing in the nosebleed cash games and playing the Main Event every year. I never really took a serious run at it.”
“For six months, I retrained my game, studied with some people that I trust and completely changed the way that I play so that I could try to compete,” continued Gold. “I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to compete at the level that I used to and so, before this summer, I played six events, made two final tables and cashed four times.”
He final tabled a massive $570 event at the Seminole Rock and Roll Poker Open later that month, and before the 2015 WSOP he finished 10th in a Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown prelim and 14th in the Planet Hollywood Goliath in early June.
The impetus for Gold’s return lies with his role at YouStake, a website that allows players to buy pieces of players like Gold, Greg Raymer, Mike Leah and Anthony Zinno. Gold and Zinno both play a significant role with the company, and Gold felt like putting himself on the website and playing again would be a necessity.
“I still have a lot to learn and I still want to make my game better but coming into this summer, yeah, I was kind of expecting to at least make a final table. I’m glad I did it,” said Gold. “Everyone who invested in me definitely expected that I would make at least one final table. Even if I just cash in the Main Event, I think it would be a really successful summer.”
Despite his positive momentum and the second-biggest tournament cash of his career at this WSOP, Gold’s eyes were on adding a second bracelet.
“People say, ‘Oh wow, it’s fifth place’, but when you’re that close there’s only one spot that matters,” said Gold. “Second would be just as disappointing. Second, fifth, eighth, all the same to me. But it’s nice that for the people who invested in me, they get a nice return so that felt really good.”
Even with this recent surge in results, Gold feels like it’ll be a while before he throws himself back into poker entirely
“I’m still not ready. Until I retire, I couldn’t possibly be a full-time poker player, because I just have too many things that I want to do with my life,” said Gold. “But I’d like to be a good part-time poker player and I wanted to take it much more seriously.”
For now, Gold is quite content to play a handful of tournaments a year along with the Main Event, which he takes great joy in playing every year. As a Main Event champion, his experience in this tournament is unlike the way any non-champion has to play things.
“It’s a combination,” said Gold. “You always get some really excited people who, I guess, hope that they would be sitting with somebody that they recognize. Not necessarily just me, but some people get really excited and it’s nice. Then of course, there are always those that are coming after me, really hard, pros that really want to knock me out.”
Gold’s even had a few players who were more than happy to lose their chips to him as long as they can tell their friends and family they were taken out by a WSOP Main Event champion.
“There are the amateurs that, believe it or not, say that they just wanted to have a story, not even [just by] knocking me out, but getting knocked out by me,” said Gold. “I think, ‘Why would you want to be able to say that you got knocked out by me? How is that?’ They would just give me their chips sometimes. I appreciate the gift, but it’s amazing to me. I would understand that they would want a story that they knocked me out, but sometimes they just felt like, I feel like they just gave away their chips and then they’d say, ‘At least I have a story’. A much better story would be not giving away your chips and actually still being in the tournament.”
After topping poker’s biggest tournament once before it might seem unreasonable to hope for another shot at the bright lights of the Penn & Teller Theater, but as long as he has chips in the tournament – and he did late into Day 2C – there’s no harm in having the dream.
“If by some miracle I could make the final table in this one, that would be very satisfying and not necessarily needing to win it again,” said Gold. “The final table I made [earlier this WSOP], I really wanted to win it, but I think just making the final table of the Main Event would be the accomplishment. For all of my friends and family, I think they might even be more excited than I could possibly be, because I’ve been through it already. But for them, it would be awesome just to be able to go on the journey for three months, and I think that’s part of why they do the November Nine.”
Gold feels as if him or another former champion was to make the November Nine, it would bring a tremendous amount of attention to the final table. That name recognition will be a part of Gold’s poker experience as long as he’s involved in the game, but Gold’s partner in crime in the YouStake experience, Anthony Zinno, has made a serious name for himself in a tough post-poker boom environment through sheer will. For his friend, Gold couldn’t be any prouder.
“I think he’s going to be Player of the Year, and I’d be over the moon about it,” said Gold. “Second to me winning the Main Event, that would make me most proud. It’s just going to create so much attention for what we’re doing with YouStake. We kind of knew coming in with him being the WPT Player of the Year [that he could do big things], so it wasn’t like it was some huge surprise, but you never know how you’re going to do in the World Series.”
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