Will Against the World

3 years ago
Kassouf Against the World
25 Oct

(Photo: WSOP.com)

When the November Nine return for the Main Event final table next week, they will have to pull out all the stops if they want to top the most memorable hand of this year’s event so far.

That status currently belongs to the amazing final hand of Will Kassouf’s WSOP journey – a barnstorming finale which had everything that still makes poker such an exciting game to watch.

The ESPN coverage of the last few days of the summer extravaganza’s biggest event has focused almost entirely on the fast-talking, slow-playing Londoner, who managed to annoy just about everyone who had the misfortune to share his table!

Tournament Director Jack Effel had his hands full dealing with the Englishman, pulling him aside on several occasions to warn and eventually penalise him over his ‘disturbing’ behavior – while opponent’s such as Cliff Josephy and Jared Bleznick were far more blunt with him, calling him a clown and ridiculing his normal buy-in levels.

Kassouf’s end, when it came, was a car-crash affair – the Englishman picking up pocket kings, while sitting opposite was Griffin Benger peering down at pocket rockets – a huge cooler at the best of times, but here the tournament lives of both men were on the line.

Under the gun, Benger raised it up with his two black aces, and when it got to Kassouf, Norman Chad exclaimed:

"Big hand at the wrong time!”

Eventually, and very slowly – as was his style all week long – Kassouf re-raised, and then started his usual ‘speech-play’ during Benger’s thinking time of course.

When Benger re-raised to 5.6m, Kassouf went into overdrive.

"5.6? Find out where you are? I take it if I ship it you’re not passing?!”

And he went on – and on – and on. Excruciating talk while Benger simply stared into the void. Two (ESPN edited remember! It could have been 10!) minutes of Kassouf’s annoying soliloquy saw the clock being called, and then…

…Benger went berserk!

“You’re just an abusive person, man – it’s not funny, it’s not fun and games!” he exclaimed, and we were off and running!

“You’re being abusive to me, it’s called verbal abuse!” said Benger, as Kassouf stuttered somewhat shocked. “What you are doing to me, is verbal abuse,” he repeated as Gordon Vayo tried to explain to Kassouf that he wasn’t even gaining any information with Benger’s silence.

Kassouf, as we all know, has a different view – explaining multiple times during his talks with Effel that his ‘speech-play’ is designed to get a read at critical moments in play. He tried the same argument with Benger but got no change back.

Benger berated:

"You’re a bully, it’s rude, it’s mean – it’s not called speech-play, it’s called being a bad person! You should really check yourself, check your privilege!”

Benger waved his hand at the rails, saying:

"No-one is going to help you – NO-ONE is going to help you!” by now almost shouting. “The bet is 5.6million chips, that’s what the bet is.”

Kassouf responded:

"OK, 5.6, I understand that. It’s not verbal abuse.”

“Yes it is. Ask anyone else here!” and the spell was broken.

“Ok, I’m all-in,” Kassouf announced with a flourish. “I call!” said Benger leaping to his feet and hollering:

"Come on baby! Whatever happens he’s coolered! Put aking out there, I don’t care – I’m fine! My life is good!”

The verbals continued, both players shouting for different things – Kassouf for a “king of hearts, heart of a lion” while Benger sustained his attack on Kassouf’s divisive approach to the game.

And, for once, Kassouf’s tired talk did him no good. The king never appeared, and the Englishman left the arena, but not before two or three of his fellow players refused to shake his hand!

Live by the tongue, die by being ignored! One thing is certain, however – Kassouf has made his mark on the Main Event and it will take a crazy final table to erase his antics as the main talking point!

Articles 1875

Andrew from Edinburgh, Scotland, is a professional journalist, international-titled chess master, and avid poker player.Read more


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