Five Iconic WSOP Hands: #1 Jamie Gold vs Paul Wasicka

  • The 2006 WSOP Main Event was the biggest in the history of the game
  • The highlight came from Jamie Gold, who bulldozed through opponents
  • His final hand against Paul Wasicka proved a ‘Jamie Gold special’
  • Gold’s victory led to a rule against discussing holdings with opponents
Jamie Gold
Jamie Gold bulldozed his way through the competition in the 2006 WSOP Main Event, ending it with an iconic hand.

2006 was a record-setting year

It may be finally eclipsed in a few weeks’ time, but the 2006 World Series of Poker Main Event was the biggest in the history of the game.

In the peak of the poker and economic booms, an incredible 8,773 people ponied up $10,000 to take their shot at poker history. Online qualifiers accounted for 40% of the total field – a staggering $32m of the record prize pool being put in by PokerStars, PartyPoker, UltimateBet, and Full Tilt Poker players. 

David ‘Chip’ Reese won the special $50,000 HORSE event for $1.78m

Many great stories emerged from that WSOP. Bill Chen won two bracelets, as did the talented young-gun Jeff Madsen who also pipped Phil Hellmuth for the Player Of The Year race. David ‘Chip’ Reese won the special $50,000 HORSE event for $1.78m, a tournament that later morphed into the Poker Player’s Championship, the trophy for which bears his name. 

The biggest story, however, came from the Main Event as it so often does with one player standing out as he bulldozed his way through the massive field. A 37-year-old talent agent and amateur poker player originally from Kansas City was simply unstoppable.

Gold came in like a wrecking ball

Jamie Gold knew how to talk. He played his hands fast and he leaned into the aspect of poker that can be best described as psychological warfare. Fearless, brash, and occasionally obnoxious, he coaxed and cajoled, discountenanced, and discombobulated all who stood in his way. 

Gold bluffed and took exquisite delight in showing those bluffs. He even intentionally flashed one of his cards to his opponent while making a huge bluff. Top pros who encountered him tried to decipher his patter and fathom his patterns but they had no antidote to his brazen approach which was veritably hoovering up chips. 

On days 4, 5, and 6, he came in like a wrecking ball, maintaining a gargantuan 300 big blind stack throughout. On the final table, Gold had a monstrous chip lead and his friend, poker legend Johnny Chan, in his corner as he traded the signature orange for a bowl of blueberries. Gold had over 51 million chips, Allen Cunningham was second with 13.6 million and there would be no relent. 

his bluster and swagger would induce the desired outcome one last time

By the time it was five-handed, Gold covered his other four opponents combined. Cunningham bust in fourth, arguably his biggest threat. Michael Binger fell in third. Only the 25-year-old Paul Wasicka stood in Gold’s way. The final hand would be a ‘Jamie Gold special,’ fitting in the sense that his bluster and swagger would induce the desired outcome one last time. 

The Hand

Coming into heads-up, Gold had a 4.5-1 lead over Wasicka. There were a few very small skirmishes before the big hand.


With the blinds 200,000/400,000 and an old-fashioned 50,000 ante each, Wasicka’s 16.2 million stack was effective and Gold limped in with Q♠️9♣️. Wasicka raised to 1.3 million with T♥️T♠️ and Gold called.


The flop came Q♣️8♥️5♥️ and Wasicka bet 1.5 million into 2.7 million (55% of pot). Gold raises all-in for 13.4 million total, a huge over-bet of the pot. Wasicka went into the tank but never got a moment’s silence as Gold chatted it up. Declaring that he put Gold on a draw, Wasicka made the call. 

Turn & River

The turn and river bricked out with the A♦️ and 4♣️. Gold was the champion and the winner of a record $12m first prize. 

Should Wasicka have gotten away? 

Gold should be min-raising a hand like Q♠️9♣️ pre-flop. It’s a better-than-average hand and he has position. If you think you have a substantial post-flop edge, you could stage a case for limping some hands but I still think you want to raise a hand this strong. Wasicka has a clear raise with T♥️T♠️ and his sizing is okay, although I certainly wouldn’t mind a raise in the range of 3.5x-4x the big blind here. Gold’s call is standard. 

there are a lot of draws on a texture such as this

The Q♣️8♥️5♥️ flop is tricky for Wasicka. There is just one over-card to his pocket pair but there are a lot of draws on a texture such as this. For that reason, he shouldn’t continuation bet too small and I quite like his sizing of 55%. Gold’s shove is non-standard but, to his credit, he recognized that he had been seen fast-playing draws in this fashion so he needed to play some strong hands like this too. 

Wasicka was in a really gross spot versus a player who has a much wider range than he should. Gold could have a monster (two pair or maybe a set of 5s), he could be overplaying a Qx holding and he absolutely could have the better draws (7-6, hearts, or maybe a combo draw). Versus made better hands, he is drawing thin and versus all the average equity of all the draws he is only a 6-4 favorite. 

The T♥️ is an interesting card for Wasicka to have in his possession as it blocks some of the combo draws. Nonetheless, on this texture, there are just so many draws that have good equity (the combo draws or the draws with an overcard to a ten have 42-48%). Given that if he was good, he was not very far ahead and if he was bad, he was in terrible shape, I think that, on balance, he should have laid this one down.

Gold Rules, OK

When Wasicka went into the tank, Gold almost immediately hit him with a barrage of questions:

“You don’t have a queen, do you? (pause) I’m already all-in, you can’t change my action. You don’t have a queen, do you? (pause) I guess if you did, you’d call, so I’ve got this one. (pause) No queen?”

Wasicka did his best not to be baited into dialogue with Gold but he eventually succumbed. “No queen”, he said. “Then I’ve got you,” replied Gold, telling the truth this time whilst wearing the widest of Cheshire Cat grins.

it was believed that what Gold did in dozens of hands pushed the boundaries

So impactful were Gold’s verbal antics in 2006 that the WSOP felt compelled to change the rules. While there is nothing wrong with ‘table talk,’ it was believed that what Gold did in dozens of hands pushed the boundaries. Specifically, he would not only try to encourage or discourage action from his opponents but he would also discuss the contents of his own hand. 

As a result, the ‘Jamie Gold Rule’ was established in 2007 which forbade players from discussing their holdings with another player while the hand is ongoing. They essentially categorized this behavior as a form of collusion. My own take is in a game of deception, saying what you have, true or not, has a spurious link to collusion. I think that it is a poor rule which removes a lot of what distinguishes live poker.

Given how Gold had talked so many players into folding when he had air, Wasicka knew that there was a very good chance that his pocket tens were ahead. After a few moments, he uttered those fateful words – “Alright, you talked me into it.” He made the call and Gold leaped to his feet. A clean board later and he was crowned champion. Say what you like about the Jamie Gold Rule but at the WSOP in 2006, Jamie Gold most certainly ruled. 

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