Just a few hands into the day, the first player of the 2006 Main Event final table was eliminated. Dan Nassif, the short-stack coming into play, was knocked out by chip-leader Jamie Gold.
Gold limped in from early position, and Nassif raised it more than four times the big blind to $700,000. Gold called, and announced that he was checking the flop dark. The flop came down 5s-3s-2c, and Nassif moved all-in for about 1.5 million more. Gold immediately called, and showed pocket twos for a set. Nassif showed A-K and was looking for a four to make an inside straight. The turn came an ace, and the river a 10, knocking Nassif out.
After the hand, Nassif criticized his play, commenting, "I should have obviously pushed all-in preflop, but I had 2.5 million and I didn't want to push it all in right away just to win 400,000. With the flop of all rags, I didn't put him on an overpair. I put him more on AQ, AJ, so on that flop, especially when he checked in the dark, I thought AK was in the lead. I pushed right there to try to get some chips to play with. I priced him into calling preflop, and it was an error on my part."
While the hand was in progress, Gold came over to Nassif to comfort him, squeezing his shoulder and chatting with him. When questioned about what they discussed, Nassif answered, "[Jamie] apologized for calling, first of all. Jamie is a great guy and we had become friends. He told me, 'Sorry to see you go.' He mentioned that with my raise, he was priced into calling, which I think he was. He just said, great playing with you, good luck, and he was rooting for a four [for a chopped pot], which is the kind of person that he is – he's a nice guy."
With the huge amount of prize money, many wondered whether Nassif would continue in his day job. He said, "I've had a long career, and the job and the people there are great. I'm not going to leave. It would be a lack of character on my part to walk away." As for his prospects of playing more tournament poker, he commented, "It's a grind, an absolute grind. Starting at noon and ending at three in the morning, it's brutal. After you're done, though, you're excited and looking back, it's an amazing experience. I'm not playing any more cards though for at least a while."
In his exit interview, Nassif joked, "To everyone back home who ordered the pay-per-view, call me and I'll pay you back the $25. Hopefully, they all got together in one spot to split it." The $1,566,858 that he won for 9th place should go a long way in covering his bill.