The person who drew the most attention during the Island Breeze's opening hasn't won a poker tournament in eight years, and got criticized and sued after he did take home the bracelet.
Yep, Jamie Gold's in town.
Gold will appear regularly at the Island Breeze's Jamie Gold Poker Room, which sails out of the Port of Palm Beach. Gold had run a similar room at The Tropicana and Las Vegas, but it folded under as the hotel underwent a makeover.
There's a decent percentage of people who don't like Gold for one reason or another. But if you meet him, I'm betting you'll do a 180.
"I'm someone people love or hate, and they hate me for the wrong reasons," he says. "But I do think everyone I've met I have turned around once they know the facts."
The poker room will offer whatever games the public wants, he said.
"My dream has always been to have a poker room where we can play in the same style that people play at home," he says, and because the poker will be in international waters, it won't be subject to Florida's rules. "As long as it's fair for everyone, that's the idea."'
For example, he's OK with straddling anywhere, running it twice and being able to talk to the other player when it's heads-up. (If you don't follow poker, just skip the above.)
"I'm a gambler. This is my dream come true," he says. He says neither Brad Garrett nor him were paid as the Tropicana changed.
He has gone from living in Malibu to Singer Island, and will set up a part-time place for his mother, who lives in New York.
"My life has been dedicated to philanthropy and Palm Beach is one of the most philanthropic places in the U.S.," he says, adding that he will work with charities to provide cruise/poker packages.
For those who didn't follow the history, here we go. Gold, a talent agent in California who took poker lessons from Johnny Chan, agreed to play the 2006 WSOP under Bodog.com's sponsorship, and Crispin Leyser agreed to bring in some celebrities under the Bodog name in exchange for another seat in the tournament. When the names didn't apear, Bodog didn't provide Leyser the seat.
So Gold says he told Leyser he'd give him half of any winnings. Even put it in a voice mail for the record.
Well, when Gold, whose style is a bit chattier (some don't like that) than most, won the World Series of Poker, and the all-time main event payout of $12 million. Leyser hit him up for half. Leyser computed that to be $6 million. Gold notes that any player would understand that a payout would be post-tax, and a suit followed.
The settlement is sealed, but Gold notes. "I did fine, and he didn't really have a case, did he?" Gold said he settled because his father was dying of ALS and didn't have time to waste.
Gold says the lawsuit brought about a theory that he was out of money, and when coupled with his playing style, made for good copy.
"My mom reads the blogs and thinks they're actual journalists," he says. "When anyone sees the facts they know I never purposely tried to hurt anyone."
Now, he says, "my job is to play, whether it's a $100 game or a $100,000 game. I won't mind donating to keep the room going."
The room has eight to 20 tables, depending on the crowd. Drinks are free and Gold says the Island Breeze will match the comps on any player's card.
"We'll treat them the same way they are treated elsewhere," he says.
He also acknowledges he's not a Hall of Fame poker player, not in the line of Phil Hellmuth, Phil Ivey or Daniel Negreanu.
"I realize how lucky I am," he says. "I don't think I'm the best poker player. I just had a great run and made the most of it."
The cruise costs $10 and sails from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 6:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. A buffet lunch bought in advance is $10 and dinner is $15; onboard it’s $5 more. Go to iBreezeCasino.com.