Gabriel Nassif On His First Time in Vegas: "I Never Left The Rio, I Just Played Poker"
Runner-up in the Event #19 $3,000 Six-Max Limit Hold'em, France's Gabriel Nassif is not new to deep runs at the World Series of Poker (WSOP).
With more than thirty cashes and nine final tables at the WSOP alone, the former Magic: the Gathering and today's proud member of the Team PokerStars.fr Pro Online has been putting together a series of remarkable results on the felt for over 10 years now.
Right after last Wednesday's second-place finish in Event #19, good for $142,631, Nassif sat down with PokerNews France's Julien Tissot to discuss the secret of his success and share some of his favorite memories about Las Vegas.
PokerNews: Let's start with your performance at the Event #19. Are you happy with your second-place finish or do you have any regrets for not winning the tournament?
Nassif: I am pretty satisfied with my result, although it would have been obviously better to bring home the bracelet. I do not have any regrets as I don't think I have made any big mistakes during my tournament - and I know that there's always variance to take into account in events like these.
You have already cashed an impressive number of times at the WSOP. How can you explain such a regularity in competitive events like these?
I play a lot of tournaments, and I have the impression that the level is lower when you play live than when you play online.
[In live tournaments] the best players start to come out towards the end of the competition, and I think I know how American players play poker, as they tend to be very tight.
In addition to this, I also have a lot of experience with different poker variants, and I played a lot on the ‘dot-com,' which I think gives me an edge over many players.
A lot of people took it to social media to congratulate you for the second-place finish. How did that make you feel?
Yes, I received a lot of messages during and after the event. This is something very specific about live poker, and it makes me extremely happy. However, I have to admit that I have tried to avoid to look at my phone during the final table, as I needed to stay focused.
I have seen all the messages the day after the event, and that made me feel wonderful. It was truly heart-warming.
Let's try to go back in time now: do you still remember your first time in Las Vegas?
Yes, it was 2005 - I just turned 21-years-old at that time. That year, I stayed in Vegas for two weeks, and I had a pretty limited bankroll, so I remember I have played only five or six events, with two cashes. I had to play a lot of cash games to pay for that trip and the buy-ins.
I remember that I was sleeping at the Rio on the couch of a friend's room. But this is not the most incredible thing, as what's even crazier is that during the two weeks I had been there I never left the Rio! I only played poker.
What are your favorite places in Vegas?
The Rio has great sentimental value for me. One summer, I shared a room at the Bellagio with ElkY, and we went out a lot after the Main Event. I have to say that I miss the evenings that PokerStars used to organize for the players: once we even had Snoop Dog as a guest!
As for today, however, I prefer to rent a house than to stay in a hotel - as that allows me to skip the craziness of the Strip.
What is your best memory in Vegas?
At a personal level, I must say that it is the meeting with my wife. Poker-wise, I think it's my deep run at the Main Event in 2011 when I finished 73rd. That year was really magical for me.
What's it like to be a regular at the WSOP? What are the most remarkable encounters you made here?
The first name that comes to mind is Phil Ivey. He's a real impressive player, and it's great to have him at the table. Then, Barry Greenstein has always stories some interesting stories to tell. Mike Matusow is also one who talks a lot.
I also love to find Phil Hellmuth there, as he knows how to animate a table. Let's just say this: during the first levels of a WSOP event, you will never get bored.
What about this edition of the WSOP? How do you like the way the Series have been organized?
So far, I think the WSOP guys have done a good job. However, the fact that players had to wait for four hours to get paid at the Colossus is unacceptable. Also, the cards this year are not very good, the spades and clubs really look alike. However, to be completely honest, I remember having some issues with cards also during other editions of the Series, so this is not something entirely new.
On the plus side, something that I like here, is that a player can play in a hand even if he's not at his seat when the first card is dealt.
What about your plans for the rest of the Series, will you be playing a lot, or are you going for a light schedule?
I plan to play a lot of events with buy in between $1,000 and $3,000. I will play the Event #54: $10,000 8-Max Pot-Limit Omaha, and many mixed games. I would like to play also in the Event #60: 8-Max High Roller Pot-Limit Omaha on June 29, but that will depend on my results. Then, of course, I'll be there for the Main Event.