In case you were out of the poker universe this month, Jamie Gold won the 2006 WSOP Championship Event. And is customary, along with the bracelet and the first place prize pool ($12 million this year), Jamie will also receive a diss'ing in the blogs and forums.
Trashing the champion has become almost a tradition; as reliable as the Swallows of Capistrano or Xmas decorations in retail stores after Halloween. As the field of "unknowns" has swelled in the past years, the "who was he to win this thing" theme generally runs its course. Many people who have allegedly played with past champions have offered up the "I've played with him before and he sucks" threads. Every word uttered and perceived behavior displayed during the event by the eventual winner is dissected for a potential backlash.
Jamie's hazing has taken a bit of a Hollywood spin - or the accusations of Hollywood spin as the case might be. It was rumored early in the event that the ethically challenged character and agent Ari Gold in the hit HBO series Entourage was indeed modeled after Jamie. But one blog claims that Jamie was more Llyod (Ari's slave assistant) than agent.
Another common trashing theme is how much money the champion doesn't get to keep because of backing deals and/or promises made prior to their bracelet finish. In this regard, Gold also becomes blog fodder.
But if recent history also repeats itself, Jamie can "redeem" himself in the coming year. Chris Moneymaker, the embodiment of the internet luckbox for some, found some virtual peace with his second place showing at the 2004 WPT Shooting Star Event. Both Hachem and Raymer, the "they're OK but not that great" representatives, went on to have spectacular follow-on years at the WSOP.
We always seem to have a need to impose standards on a sports figure above and beyond their prowess. Jamie Gold survived a record field to take home poker's biggest prize. He was an action player that played a smart game of small pot poker with a big stack. If he got caught, he got caught small. If he scored, he scored big. Once in awhile, he got lucky - but even then, he never endangered his survival. He played a winning game. And like the champions before him, my guess is that his skill, demonstrated during and after the WSOP, will be left to do his talking.
I suspect that we will eventually find our way to "Hug it out, bitch" with Jamie Gold.