Well, it didn’t take long for William Kassouf’s 2016 rise to poker fame, fortune and infamy to spill over into 2017, with Matt Savage’s decision to make him a ‘Shooting Star’ coming in for some heavy flak from the legendary Kathy Liebert!
The World Poker Tour (WPT) Executive Tour Director thought the mouthy Englishman would make a perfect “3P’s” player – ‘Personality, Personable, and Popular’ being the attributes most fans want from their ‘shooting stars’ – Liebert, however, was less-than-impressed…
I think it's ridiculous that they make Kassouf a star at Bay101. Rewards a guy who gets attention by annoying players and for penalties?!— Kathy Liebert (pokerkat) January 7, 2017
Kassouf may not be everyone’s cup of tea - this summer’s WSOP coverage revealing him to the world as he indulged in ‘speechplay’ at the table so often he was given several warnings – but he proved himself to be an excellent poker professional too, running deep in that Vegas Main Event and then taking down the EPT High Roller in Prague shortly before Christmas.
Savage was quick to jump in and defend Kassouf – whose ‘Check your Privilege’ bust-up with Griffin Benger at the WSOP even made the mainstream news – explaining that:
The field was becoming increasingly based on results and so the 'Stars' of 10 years ago were being pushed out by young superstars that showed up late, refused to interact with players at their table, take pictures, declined interviews, and sometimes not even sign the shirt when they busted. It created a very negative experience for our locals and satellite winners,” he added, stating, “As you know San Jose has the best poker fans in the game and they have started to disappear because of the disappointment many felt by meeting the new heroes.”
And Kassouf really IS a hero to many, as evidenced by Savage’s revelation that:
I received more requests to make William a Shooting Star than any other player and it wasn't close! This year we made a conscious choice to bring back what I call the 3P's (Personality, Personable, and Popular) because our locals and the Bay 101, and the WPT need to bring this great event back to what it once was.”
Responding to the complaints about Kassouf’s slow-play, Savage says:
I have already informed him that slow play, excessive tanking, and stalling will not be permitted in my events and he has ensured me there wouldn't be. I respect players and I expect them to respect me, our dealers, and staff as well.”
The speech play which brought Kassouf into a number of conflicts last year will be high on everyone’s ‘expectations in San Jose come March, but Savage makes it
I don't mind table talk as long as it's done within the rules and isn't abusive to other players. William has done nothing wrong to me and I don't expect him to at Bay 101 either.”
William Kassouf is currently in the Bahamas for the first of PokerStars new Championship tournaments but has been re-tweeting his favorite supporters’ messages regarding his inclusion as a ‘Shooting Star’ in Savage’s upcoming March festival.
Shooting Star it is then, and Kassouf might well find himself with a huge bounty on his head, making for even more action and headlines in 2017 than his already amazing 2016 had!
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