Speech Play Masterclass: William Kassouf Vs Mike "The Mouth" Matusow

3 years ago
Speech Play Masterclass: William Kassouf Vs Mike
20 Sep

At some point in the early 2000s, the archetype of the default live cash game pro changed - arguably for the worse. Live poker used to be as much about "playing the man" as it was about the optimal betting patterns but with Moneymaker's win in 2003 followed by the online poker revolution, live cash games and tournaments were swarmed by the legion of near silent twentysomethings, meticulously calculating the EV of each and every spot from the comforts of their oversized hoodie.

Fortunately for the poker fans, many members of the old guard are still going strong, providing us with loads of the good old-fashioned entertainment via their colorful table banter and interactions with other players. On top of that, some newcomers to the scene are beginning to realize, that there's a lot of value to be had in properly implemented speech play.

William Kassouf is a prime example of the latter kind of player and one of his recent hands played against the oldtimer Mike "The Mouth" Matusow, during "Live at the Bike!" live stream, showed us why colorful personalities are so vital for the long-term health of the spectator sport that is poker. 

"Mouth on Mouth Violence"

This hand would've been relatively interesting even if both players stayed completely silent. Mike "The Mouth" Matusow went with a preflop limp with QQ which is the sort of play that's very hard to justify from the GTO point of view but it seems to be working fairly well for the old school players - most likely due to the high aggression of their young opponents.

The rest of the hand played out in a relatively standard fashion except for the river where Matusow decided to turn his showdown value into a bluff targeting a small subsection of underrepresented Ax hands that improved on the last street, which seemed like a sub-optimal play in a vacuum. However, this hand had about as much to do with the idea of a vacuum as a basement poker room with no air-condition after a 24-hour-long home game session.

Both William Kassouf and Mike Matusow had a profound influence on the hand via their use of speech play which made the outrageous line of "The Mouth" insanely +EV. Both players declared the strength of their hand at multiple points in the hand, Kassouf went from honesty to dishonesty and back, by admitting to holding A7o at the beginning of the hand, claiming Q-high later on and going back to the previous version of the story when faced with the river all-in.

"The Mouth" on the other hand went from "I have a pair" to "I might have a set", slowly ramping up the declared strength of his holding. On the whole, the confrontation between the two players was a fascinating and extremely entertaining display of high-level speech play, proving that live poker is at its best when players make the most out of their ability to interact with each other.

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Mateusz has been writing about poker for the better part of the last decade. He's deeply interested in many poker related subjects like psychology, game theory, fitness, nutritional science etc.Read more


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