Hold 'Em Tight

Unreal went to Las Vegas for the World Series of Poker and all we got was this lousy story.

This logic would seem to crown poker the most honest of Western sports. It's played with chips, and without all the pretense ballplayers (disingenuously or not) attach to their pursuit: love of the game, passion for the hometown, virtue of being a role model, blah blah blah. Aren't poker players in it simply for the fat stacks of cash?

Perhaps not. The common refrain among WSOP participants is that they're after that hideous championship bracelet, not the money. And Jamie Gold, the 2006 WSOP Main Event winner, told the world he intends to use his winnings to ease the suffering of his father, who was stricken with ALS — amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

Dan Nassif's fraternal twin swears it's not true of his brother, either.

Eric Harkins/IMPDI for the 2006 WSOP
The local hero (left) stares down fellow poker face John 
Magill, who was eliminated in 12th place — good for  
$1.1 million and change.
Eric Harkins/IMPDI for the 2006 WSOP
The local hero (left) stares down fellow poker face John Magill, who was eliminated in 12th place — good for $1.1 million and change.

"I've never heard Dan once talk about the money he's made from playing," says Peter Nassif, a shorter, bespectacled version of Dan. "The money will affect him in absolutely no way whatsoever. If anything it'll make him more humble."

"Money will not change Dan," seconds Riverfront Times publisher Michael Wagner, adding that he doesn't think Nassif will quit again. "I've personally been trying to change things about Dan for years. Nothing works. Just like always, I'll see him at about 8:30 on Monday, even though we start at 8:15, wearing a slightly wrinkled shirt, with three days of facial hair growth."

Nassif flew home from Vegas first class, and he may use some of his cash to pay off the mortgage on his house. But that's about it, he says.

"Winning's more important than the money," Nassif tells Unreal.

Of course, he says it with a straight face.

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