On ESPN WSOP Main Event Airing, William Kassouf Steals the Show and a Hand

4 min read

ESPN aired episodes 3 and 4 of its WSOP Main Event coverage Sunday evening, and 2006 champion Jamie Gold stole the show. Okay, it wasn’t actually him. The star of the night was William Kassouf, a poker player from England who, as some poker fans said, took after Gold’s style of intimidation by getting in a player’s head.

Britain’s William Kassouf was the “bad boy” of Episodes 3 and 4 of ESPN’s WSOP Main Event coverage this weekend. (Image: pokerlistings.com)

In his most crucial hands, Kassouf used chatter to intimidate his opponent. Doing so drew the attention of WSOP Tournament Director Jack Effel. In a hand with Stacy Matuson, Kassouf missed a straight draw on the river against his opponent’s pocket queens. He wasn’t going to just surrender the pot, so he put her all-in.

Leaning on the Ladies

The queens were an over pair to the board, but with just over 170 players left in the field, calling off her entire stack wasn’t an easy decision for Matuson. Kassouf did everything he could to get her to fold.

“There’s over 600k in there so I want you to call,” the former lawyer said.

“You cannot say anything that influences the action in the hand,” the dealer advised.

Back in 2006, when Gold ultimately won the Main Event, players were given more freedom to chat during a hand. The Hollywood agent received harsh criticism from poker players for attempting to manipulate his opponents with his banter, but it worked like a charm. Newer World Series rules prevent this type of behavior, but that didn’t stop Kassouf.

While Matuson pondered her decision, she complained to the dealer that her opponent was continually breaking rules without being disciplined.

“The decision is on you, young lady, and you don’t need to go on about it,” the combative poker player responded.

“I want you to call. Good luck to you. I’ll keep it friendly, because it’s a friendly table. If you fold and show, I will show,” he continued. “But I want you to call, 100 percent.”

Kassouf continued talking about his hand, which eventually got Effel’s attention. He warned Kassouf a penalty was coming if he didn’t reel in his baiting conversation.

Matuson tanked for quite some time on the hand. Annoyed it was taking so long, one player at the table called the clock. She was then advised she had one minute to make a decision or her hand would be dead. During this time, Kassouf made hand gestures towards his opponent, seemingly encouraging her to call, which made Effel even more upset.

With the clock winding down to zero, Matuson folded her hand face-up. Kassouf then proudly flipped his bluff over.

“Turned a double-gutter and missed,” he proclaimed. “Nine-high like a boss.”

Effel removed Kassouf from the table and gave him a one-round penalty. The tournament director accused him of taunting Matuson with hand gestures. But Kassouf, instead of just saying “I’m sorry,” continued to argue with Effel.

Heartless Power Plays

This wasn’t the first run-in between Kassouf and Matuson, either. A few hands prior, the Brit turned a straight flush against her top-pair. She bet out 225,000 on the turn and he raised to 1,145,000, putting her all-in. During a lengthy tank, the Kassouf relentlessly pressured her to make a decision.

“I don’t think you’ve got the heart. You haven’t got the heart to call. If you got it, you got it. But now that I’m all-in, tell me what you’ve got, and I’ll tell you if I want you to call. I’ll be honest. No shame in talking now. If you’ve got a flush, good luck to you.”

Matuson went into the tank, attempting to analyze the hand out-loud. She verbally stated she felt her hand was the best and that he was likely on a draw. Kassouf continued trying to talk his way into getting a call. She eventually folded, showing her hand in the process.

“Ace-queen, that’s it?” he asked.

Matuson busted later in the broadcast in 169th place when her pocket aces got cracked. We won’t play spoiler, so we’ll just tell you that Kassouf is still alive and will be back in action for Episodes 5 and 6 next Sunday night on ESPN2.

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