** Editor’s Note: A panel of industry peers helped assemble the 20 Greatest Poker Pics of All Time. A new picture will be posted daily until we get to #1.
The 2006 WSOP was the fitting end to the poker Gold RushTM years.
Everything about that Main Event was oversized: the field, the money being thrown around at Pokerpalooza, the general media attention, and of course, the personality of its eventual champ, Jamie Gold.
Wicked Chops was the first site to ever spot and write about Gold. There were a LOT of stories about Gold at the time (most, of which, were perpetuated by Gold). He was an agent to the stars. He was the guy Ari Gold‘s character on Entourage* was based on. He discovered James Gandolfini. He won every tournament he ever played.
None of this was true.
The truth was Gold was a middle-of-the-road agent who got his seat to the Main Event from Bodog–on the condition that he could produce some celebrities to play and wear Bodog gear. When Gold couldn’t deliver a single celebrity, he reached out to a guy he barely knew named Crispin Leyser for help. Leyser was on the periphery of poker, helping produce WPT Boot Camps and playing in Hollywood home games. He had produced some other TV programs. He got Matthew Lillard and a couple other celebs** to play the Main Event. Gold agreed to split any potential winnings in the WSOP with Leyser 50/50 for helping him out.
The rest is history.
As Entity Colin remembers:
When I first met Crispin and Jules Leyser at this year’s WSOP I was chowing down on greasy food just outside the Poker Kitchen…To be honest, I didn’t know much about the Leysers at the time except for what was obvious during our conversation: they were apparently friends with Jamie Gold, knew a lot about poker, lived in Hollywood, spoke like Londoners and Jules was a pulchritudinous brunette with a resplendent smile (gets old saying “smoking hot” all the time). Shortly after this encounter though I learned that the pair were WPT Boot Camp Instructors and had a 50-50 split deal with Gold because Crispin had helped Jamie land some players for Bodog‘s celebrity team. And it was shortly after this (say, about 3 and a half minutes later) that I remembered how we had done a post more than a year [earlier] about a radio interview with a couple who knew a lot about poker, lived in Hollywood, spoke like Londoners and the wife sounded like she may have been smoking hot. I thought, “Could this be the same people? Could the world really be this small? Could Pluto really not be a planet?”
After Gold won the Main Event, Colin snapped our #6 Greatest Poker Pic of All Time–it’s the only photo ever taken (that we know of) of Gold and Leyser together. Gold’s blueberries are there as well. Everyone from Court TV, CNN, and ESPN has licensed it from us.
Shortly thereafter, it all went to shit for Gold and Leyser. It was the shortest bromance ever.
Gold won the at-the-time-all-time biggest payday of over $12M. Despite Gold’s foibles, he was legitimately trying to determine the way he and Leyser could keep the absolute most of their winnings. He was on Day 3 of this process. At that time, poker player and attorney Mark Seif was yapping in Leyser’s ear that he just needed to sue Gold (Seif, of course, as an attorney, would benefit from this) and lo-and-behold, Leyser sued, and he, Gold, and poker in general got one very public black eye.
The lawsuit was settled for an undisclosed sum (rumors were Leyser walked away with around $4.2M).
After signing a lucrative sponsorship deal with Bodog, Ayre and Co. cut Gold about six months later. He’s bounced around poker sites and poker rooms since then, and is more or less out of the game now.
Leyser has stayed in the TV space, currently working as U.S. Co-Production & Acquisitions Consultant at Viasat Broadcasting.
Colin Cooley is still an Entity. He also runs hardcore endurance races now.
Blueberries are still delicious.
* The single most impressive person we’ve met in business was the guy Ari Gold was actually based on–Ari Emanuel. Suffice to say, Jamie Gold was no Ari Emanuel.
** We’re pretty sure the other two that Leyser produced were Mekhi Phifer and Dax Shepard, but we don’t specifically remember. It’s been 8 years.
Review pics 20-07 here: