As Gold crushed player after player at the World Series of Poker

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As Gold crushed player after player at the World Series of Poker's final table this week, he regularly broke away to huddle with Chan, who was watching from the sidelines after being eliminated from the tournament. But when Gold would explain his strategies, Chan often found his protege no longer needed advice.

"I can't possibly help you," Chan said.

An unknown to the poker world before the tournament, and a serious player for just two years, Gold, 36, of Malibu became the game's improbable new face early Friday by winning history's largest and most lucrative poker tournament. He outlasted nearly 9,000 entrants during a grueling 10-day battle of no-limit Texas hold 'em.

"He's nicknamed me the 'Malibu Express,' " Gold said of Chan, known as the Orient Express. "Other people are calling me 'The Terminator' because I take out everybody."

Gold's $12-million prize easily eclipsed the winners' purses at most other high-money sporting events, including the Kentucky Derby, Wimbledon and the Daytona 500.

He credited his upset victory, in part, to his experiences reading people in Hollywood meetings.

"I have a greater sense of when people are telling the truth and when they are lying," he said.

Gold, who has represented James Gandolfini of "The Sopranos" and Felicity Huffman of "Desperate Housewives," seized attention early in the tournament by knocking off opponents and taking a massive chip lead that grew by the day.

Playing a loose, aggressive game, Gold bullied opponents with his chip lead and bewildered them with his style.

He goaded, he tweaked egos, he rattled the nerves of far more experienced players. Once while bluffing, he jumped from the table and mockingly bemoaned how much money he was about to lose on a bad hand, scaring his opponent into folding.

By the time the final nine players took their seats around the table at the Rio Hotel and Casino on Thursday afternoon, Gold had a commanding pile of chips, far ahead of second place chip-holder Allen Cunningham, the 29-year-old Las Vegas man who was the only high-profile professional at the final table.


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