Former Agent Strikes Gold In Poker

Jamie Gold of Malibu, Calif., right, shakes hands with mentor and poker legend Johnny Chan after winning the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas Friday, Aug. 11, 2006.
Former Hollywood talent agent Jamie Gold pulled off his best acting job ever early Friday, bluffing his way to victory at the World Series of Poker and taking home the grand prize of $12 million.

Gold, of Malibu, Calif., somehow convinced Paul Wasicka he had a weaker hand, getting him to push all his chips in the pot. The 36-year-old Gold screamed for joy to see Wasicka pocket 10s to his pair of queens.

It was the last bit of overacting for the former agent to the stars, who had bluffed and cajoled his way to the chip lead during the last four days of play.

"I knew that he was weak but he had a hand. And then I knew it was my chance," Gold said. "I went all in and then I just went into my act. I actually talked him into calling with the worst of it and that won the whole tournament."

Wasicka said he felt he could tell when Gold was bluffing even after he fell into his trap.

"I felt like I had a perfect read on him all day, whenever he would show his bluff, I thought he was bluffing," said Wasicka, a 25-year-old former restaurant manager from Westminster, Colo. "But against a player like that it makes it really difficult. You kind of just have to go with your gut. That's what I did and it was wrong."

By the time Gold and Wasicka were the last two players left from a field of 8,773 entrants, huge bundles of cash were deposited on the poker felt. But most of the chips were on Gold's side of the table.

He had eliminated six of the previous seven players himself, and Gold's 79 million in chips covered a good corner of the table. Wasicka's 11.2 million was badly overmatched.

Each player Gold wiped out fell victim to a different game.

Dan Nassif, a 33-year-old newspaper ad sales executive from St. Louis, busted out in the first 20 minutes of play when he went all-in with an ace and king and a plain-looking board of five, three and two. Gold was holding pocket twos, giving him a killer three-of-a-kind.

Nassif jokingly apologized "to everyone back home who ordered the pay-per-view" after his short final table run to finish ninth. He said he would return to his job despite going home $1.57 million richer.

"It's been a great experience, it's been a wild ride," he said.

Gold also knocked out Swedish pro Erik Friberg, when Friberg went all-in with a pair of jacks but ran smack into Gold's pocket queens. For good measure, Gold hit another queen on the river, sending the 23-year-old Friberg home in eighth place with $1.97 million.