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Good as Gold

Jamie Gold Gives us the Skinny on His Crazy Table Talk, Johnny Chan and the Future

Question: How did you meet Johnny Chan?

Answer: I met Johnny Chan at the Hustler in L.A. I'd been a big fan of his. I idolized him and wanted to work with him in the entertainment business so I could pick his brain and make myself a better poker player, and I worked with him on a couple of TV projects that never really got going. So over time he helped me out, during the World Series he was very inspiring and very reassuring that everything I was doing was right on. He answered questions, but the main thing was he was reassuring.

He set the bar so high so that each day I would have to double or triple my stack, even if I was chip leader or double chip leader.

Question: So it was mostly moral support?

Answer: Yes. He inspired me. He set the bar so high that I had to achieve. If he wasn't there I'm not sure if I would've worked so hard to be so dominant.

Question: What was the most important thing he taught you?

Answer: Not to risk my chips. To play small pots and to really learn how to read people.

Question: Like how?

Answer: That's privileged information!

Question: How long have you been playing?

Answer: My whole life, but hold'em for two years. I play in the big cash game at the Commerce. Every moment I'm not working, I'm playing poker. I also play in a private game in Beverly Hills. And I believe those big cash games at the Commerce are the toughest games in the world.

Question: You did a lot of talking during the Main Event of the 2006 WSOP. Do you do that in cash games too?

Answer: Sure. It depends on my mood, but I don't do it just to make money or get reads. I like people. I'll play friendly. I've laid down a winning hand for someone. I'm often more interested in a friendly social atmosphere than trying to bust people. In a tournament, it's harder to do that, but I'll still try to be friendly and there are a lot of people I could've busted in the Big One that I didn't. I chose to just be friendly with them, and I've made a lot of really good poker friends.

Question: In the tournament you got hot at the right time…

Answer: Things seemed to go my way…

Question: You were the chip leader almost the whole way. How did you get all those chips?

Answer: I played 80 percent of my starting hands.

Question: That could cost you some money…

Answer: It could. But if things go your way and you're playing really well… I played the best poker of my life. I can't imagine ever playing any better. I know I will get better, but almost every single call, every single laydown, every single move I made seemed to be the right one at the time. Whether I won or lost the hand, I was doing the right thing.

Like when Allen Cunningham called me with ace-high. Brilliant play on his part, but it was not a bad play on my part. If you are playing against someone and you know they have nothing, and you don't bet when you have less than ace-high, then that's a bozo play. I lost the hand, but that doesn't mean I played it wrong.

Question: Do you always play aggressively, or was it the big stack?

Answer: No, I play my stack. You can't play aggressively with a small stack. People have always told me I was really good at playing the short stack. But you know, playing the short stack was what got me the big stack, because I was short-stacked all the first day before I made the big call. Question: During the tournament you did something unusual. You told players what your hand was…

Answer: I used something that will probably never work again: I told the truth the whole way.

Question: You never lied about your hand?

Answer: I may have misguided someone, but I never blatantly lied. Almost always I would just tell people "I have absolutely nothing," and they would throw away their hand, and I'd show them nothing. Or I'd say, "I have the nuts. Just throw away your hand, you don't want to go home right now," and they'd call, and I'd show them the nuts. And I did that 95 percent of the time someone was all-in against me. I'd tell them if I had nothing or I had a monster, and no one believed me. And every time I'd be telling the truth. After I wiped out one table I'd go to another table and tell them: 'I'm going to tell the truth every time," but they wouldn't believe me. And I'd do it, and they wouldn't believe me and they'd make the wrong choice.

Question: Do you talk like that at Commerce/

Answer: Sure, I do that all the time, that's my game. The board is 9-7-7 and I say, "I have 9-7. I'll show you," and they fold and I show them. In cash games, they believe me, so it doesn't work that much, they want to save money and they know I'll show them. In tournaments, people feel their lives are on the line, they're desperate, and their heads are just spinning> I took my cash-game play, which made me a fair player… and in that tournament it made me unbeatable.

Jamie Gold is 37 and grew up in Manhattan. He was a Hollywood agent for years until going into TV production just more than a year ago. To stay focused during the Main Event of the 2006 WSOP, he ate blueberries by the truckload.

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