Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2006 | 7:15 a.m.
Call it the $6 million promise.
Recently crowned World Series of Poker champion Jamie Gold is being sued for half of his mammoth, $12 million winnings.
According to a suit filed Monday in District Court, Los Angeles-based "television development executive" Bruce Crispin Leyser claims that Gold promised to pay him half of whatever he won at the series as part of an informal arrangement. Leyser also asked a judge to stop Gold from claiming or spending any of the money until the dispute is settled.
Chief District Judge Kathy Hardcastle signed a temporary restraining order preventing Gold from collecting his winnings from the Rio, where the World Series was held, at least until Sept. 1, when the first court hearing in the case is scheduled.
According to Leyser's complaint, here's what happened:
Leyser met Gold - a former Hollywood talent agent from Malibu, Calif., and also a fledgling television producer - in Las Vegas in July.
They had common interests, Leyser claims, including poker and the entertainment industry, and hit it off. They even talked of co-producing a new television show.
During those discussions last month, Gold, 36, told Leyser that he had a contract with Bodog, an Internet casino company, through which the company agreed to offer a paid-for, $10,000 seat at the World Series championship event. In return, Gold agreed to find some celebrities to wear clothing with the Bodog logo during the tournament.
So, according to the complaint, Gold asked Leyser to help him find the celebrities, and the two would then "share" the seat.
"Being that there was only one seat being offered by 'Bodog,' Plaintiff and Defendant agreed that whoever played in the seat at the World Series of Poker main event would split any winnings equally with the other," Leyser claims in the suit.
Leyser fulfilled his end of the bargain, he claims, by finding Matthew Lillard and Dax Shepard to play and wear the company's logo.
Lillard played the role of "Shaggy" in two recent Scooby-Doo films and has appeared in several horror films. Shepard is a comedian who has appeared in several films. He may be best known for his work on a popular MTV practical joke show, "Punk'd."
Leyser - who is also a poker instructor and accomplished player, according to his lawyer, Las Vegas attorney Richard Schonfeld - claims that Gold told him Bodog insisted that Gold play in the event instead of Leyser.
Schonfeld declined to say whether Leyser had obtained a written contract from Gold, but the lawyer referred to a lengthy message Gold allegedly left on Leyser's answering machine.
Final table play on the last day of the championship event - which this year drew 8,773 contestants and a record prize pool of $82.6 million - started at 2 p.m. Aug. 10.
About three hours beforehand, at 10:52 a.m., Gold left a message for Leyser, according to the complaint, in which he tried to reassure Leyser that he would be getting half of whatever after-tax winnings Gold won that day.
"I promise you - you can keep this recording on my word - there's no possible way you're not going to get half after taxes," Leyser claims that Gold said in the telephone message. "So please just be with me. I can't imagine you're going to have a problem with it. I just don't want any stress about any money or any of that (expletive) going on today, or even after the end of the day."
Later in the recording, Gold allegedly said: "But please just trust me. You've trusted me the whole way, you can trust me a little bit more. I promise you there's no way anybody will go anywhere with your money. It's your money."
Gold also said on the recording that he would be setting up a Nevada-based corporation that would pay Leyser his portion of the winnings, according to the complaint. "I can't just pay out personally because I could get nailed," Gold allegedly said.
But Leyser claims Gold now refuses to direct the Rio to pay him his $6 million. He also claims that Gold broke their contract and defrauded him, among other things.
Leyser claims that he is worried, in part, because Gold "is a gambler and there is the possibility that he will dispose of the funds" before Leyser can claim them.
Neither Gold nor his Los Angeles-based attorney, Sam Israel, could be reached for comment. Messages were left at Israel's office and through Gold's Web site, but neither responded by Monday evening.