World Series of Poker champion Jamie Gold has stated he has absolutely no intention of sharing half of his $12 million winnings with Bruce Leyser who he met during the tournament.
Leyser recently claimed that Gold had promised him half of any winnings in return for help he provided in securing Gold’s seat at the infamous tournament. The so called promise was recorded on Leyser’s answering machine.
After winning the tournament and failing to pay up Leyser filed a lawsuit against Gold which resulted in a temporary restraining order stopping the release of the money from the Rio All Suites where the tournament was held.
Last week Gold retaliated with a court briefing stating that the agreement was “nothing more than a promise to make a gift.”
Richard Schonfeld, Leyser’s attorney, said Gold’s position is “absurd” and the fact that Gold admitted to the deal provides affirmation that Leyser is entitled to the $6 million. Schonfeld said in an interview “We’re glad they finally took a position.” Adding “Even though we were extremely confident in our case we are more confident now that we will prevail.”
The real issue at stake here is whether a verbal agreement is binding.
Leyser’s claim is that Gold’s seat was paid for by an internet poker company in return for him finding celebrities to also play in the tournament wearing the company’s logo.
Leyser further claims that Gold asked him to help with this in return for a share of his seat and any potential winnings. Leyser held up his end of the bargain by finding two actors to play in the tournament and wear the company logo.
Gold’s brief states that the internet company paid for his seat in the event because of his previous success playing in tournaments and his contract only required him to wear the company logo and participate in any media events, not to attract others.
It goes on to add that he only agreed to share his winnings with Leyser as he felt so sorry that Leyser was not playing as he didn’t have a sponsor or any cash to enter the tournament himself.
Gold has said that when he moved to the top of the tournament Leyser and his wife started bombarding him with phone calls and text messages every hour and started rumours that Gold owed him half the winnings.
On the final day of the tournament, after "incessant badgering and continuous phone calls" from Leyser, Gold left Leyser a voice mail message confirming his promise to share half of the winnings "after taxes," Gold acknowledged in his court filing.
Leyser maintains that the voice mail and other facts show an "acknowledged agreement" between the two men. But Gold argues that as no terms or conditions were attached the agreement isn't enforceable. He wants the Rio All Suites to release to him the other $6 million.
In his filing, Gold says he never intended to give Leyser, who he said had "serious financial problems" and was looking for a job, literally half of the winnings, but rather a smaller share of the money. Gold says he broke his promise because Leyser "unnecessarily" filed suit and tarnished Gold's reputation.
Gold also states that Leyser did not take into account such things as taxes and has “acted unreasonably”; Leyser sued and gathered unfavourable media attention to the dispute instead of continuing with good faith negotiations,
In August, Chief District Judge Kathy Hardcastle signed a temporary restraining order freezing the funds based on Leyser's argument that the money, in Gold's hands, might disappear before the matter is resolved. Attorneys expect her to rule before the end of the year.