Paul Phillips (aka extempore) doesn't post much in his LiveJournal about poker anymore, because Tournament Scrabble appears to be his preferred game these days. However, he did this week post about something I had queued to post about myself, so now, I'll just reference his article to start and add my own thoughts.
Like Paul, I was late to listen to the Jamie Gold interview on the Rounders Canadian poker radio show. I was, like Paul, appalled by what I heard. I actually only disagree with Paul on one point: I think Jaime is particularly bad as far as champions go and much more arrogant and self-obsessed than most new champions.
Sure, some of the very young (under 23) WPT winners have been that way, but that's what you expect from a kid like that. But, Jaime is in his 30's and should be old enough and mature enough not to act this way. But, he's a Hollywood agent by trade, and obviously has taken that life attitude to heart. Unabashed self-promotion, often accompanied with nasty denigration of rivals, is considered a virtue in that world, and his interview shows he thinks the same in the poker world.
The worst of his self-indulgences were his claims that his amazing play
had Allen Cunningham
literally shaking with fear. I don't
dispute that Alan was shaking, of course, I noticed it during the live
broadcast. But, it was probably either nerves at playing the final
table of the biggest poker tournament ever held, or some really smart
reverse tell. Jamie is unforgivably conceited to think that Allen's
fear of Jamie made Allen shake.
There's more such disgusting stuff in the interview, including a heads-up challenge to Hellmuth for a one million cash game. This guy is intolerable.
That said, I don't think this fellow has an obligation to be a “good champion” or “great ambassador for poker”. We as the poker community would prefer that, but it's not part of some contractual obligation for winning the Big One. I think what Mr. Gold is going to do for us is make us realize how good we've had it for a few years running now. Hachem was a kind gentleman who loved talking about poker and sharing himself as poker's representative. I think Raymer was in some ways the quintessential champion that one would want. Moneymaker, while he wasn't as good as he could be, tried hard and did pretty well. Indeed, all three of them carried themselves with just the right mix of pride and humility (it takes luck as well as skill to win tournaments). Jamie is another type all together.
I wonder some if the press people at PokerStars actually are to thank for this. All three of our other recent champions signed deals ahead of time or almost on the spot with that site, and therefore their public image was surely influenced by their contracts. Gold has no contract yet, although there is some indication that he has an affiliation of some sort with Bodog (which is also a point of fact in the pending law suit). I don't think the cause of poker popularity is going to be advanced by our champion this year as it was in previous years. Oh well, we'll just have to survive the year and keep poker's popularity moving with other means, and hope for a better champion next year.
In the meantime, I actually hope that Gold keeps to his other (actually conflicting) statements that he doesn't want the limelight. We'd be better off if he is a strange recluse than a public conceited jerk.