The operative words here, of course, are "as a matter of law."
Because if it was "as a matter of Jamie’s word," or "as a matter of principle," or "as a matter of not fucking with poker’s longstanding tradition of handshake deals," then Crispin Leyser would likely already have his half, and we’d be able to watch the Main Event on ESPN with at least some sense of enjoyment and a modicum of respect for Jamie Gold’s confident table talk and
Instead, we watch the ESPN broadcast hoping somehow, someway it was all just a bad dream, that the past has miraculously changed and someone else like Allen Cunningham or Paul Wasicka (and definitely not Richard Lee) goes on to become the face of poker for the coming year. Someone who would rather talk poker than
Regardless of our opinion of Gold’s actions and the ugly lawsuit that has ensued, this isn’t a one-sided, black-and-white argument. Jamie Gold, himself, isn’t totally to blame…
Indeed, the actions from Gold’s camp over the past two months suggests a shift towards an even greater bastardization and corporatization of poker. Whereas the past few years the focus has been on Average Joes rising up to fulfill every other Average Joe’s fantasy of winning the WSOP, we now have a Malibu Joe who walks around with bodyguards and an entourage and who talks about corporations being set up to manage payouts of pre-arranged deals; meanwhile lawsuits are filed over winnings in Federal Court and gold bracelets are pawned for hack reality shows sponsored by a Swedish skin-filler cream for women.
And while we’re being hard on Gold, we’re not letting Leyser off the hook either. If it’s true that Gold and Leyser could have worked out a deal without going to court, then it should have happened. Poker deals belong in court about as much as they belong in writing, and as Jeff Haney, the respected poker journalist for the Las Vegas Sun, noted earlier last week, the Leyser v. Gold case may "signal the end of a more innocent age in big-time gambling . . . [w]hen a professional gambler would sooner take a corporate day job … than end up in a courtroom fighting about poker tournament winnings."
Interestingly enough, had Leyser given Gold time enough to set up his corporation to handle his WSOP winnings and pay Leyser his share, this whole mess might have been averted. In his phone message regarding the splitting of earnings,
Which is a shame. On his march to win the 2006 WSOP ME, one of Jamie Gold’s biggest assets was the power of his words at the poker table. His words had value. His words persuaded people to do things he wanted them to for the benefit of his game.
Unfortunately, away from the poker table, Jamie Gold’s words have done nothing but harm to the game, because we know now there’s a price to them. And poker is left in a worse place than it was just two months ago because of it.