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Veronique de Turenne

Poker face

The New York Times has finally taken an interest in newbie poker player Jamie Gold, the Malibu talent agent who improbably won the $12 million pot at the World Series of Poker last month. An unkown sweeping the tournament is mildly interesting, but it's all the B-movie plot twists that keep the story alive.

But Mr. Gold, 37, did not come home strutting. In fact, he hasn’t come home at all, but has been lying low while struggling with a jackpot-size dose of scandal and the security worries that accompany such a windfall.

It all started in the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino, when he took the chip lead on Day 3 of the main event in the poker World Series. Mr. Gold said he was told there had been threats made against him, though neither he nor tournament officials were able to provide much detail.

“People wanted to hurt me or put something in my food because I seemed to be the only thing in the way of other people winning,” he said.

Winning, it turns out, wouldn't be half as hard as getting his hands on the cash. Brit TV producer Crispin Leyser claims Gold (are these great names or what?) promised him half the take and is suing. Gossip blogs claim Gold faked his resume. Gold, meanwhile, says he just wants to use some of the cash to help his ailing father.

Mr. Gold, who stands to make even more money in endorsements, says he wants to share his good fortune with friends. But his focus, he said, remains in ensuring that his parents are well taken care of and starting a foundation for research on Lou Gehrig’s disease.

“At the end of this I won’t have much more money than when I started,” he said. “I may buy a car or something.”

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