A new rivalry is brewing within the poker community. On Joey Ingram’s recent YouTube podcast, Shaun Deeb criticized William Kassouf, challenging his character and accusing Mr. “Nine-High Like a Boss” of hitting on his wife, even though Mrs. Deeb recalled the exchange a bit differently.
The comments from the current WSOP Player of the Year leader about the master of “speech play” sparked a back-and-forth Twitter battle, and as you would expect, poker fans took sides. CardsChat spoke to Kassouf to find out what may have caused Deeb’s verbal attack.
The classic "Is that your brother??" line. C'mon man.
I don't mind Will's act but I get why others hate it. pic.twitter.com/aSUvFKr4Rc
— Joey Ingram #passion (@Joeingram1) July 20, 2018
Ashley Deeb, perhaps surprisingly, didn’t automatically take her husband’s side.
Kassouf: We haven’t met, I’m Will, you are Shaun Deeb’s……. sister?
Me: Wife! I know it’s confusing, I’m way out of his league, so I’ll give you a pass!
The end. You boys are silly and petty. Like, worse than girls.
— Ashley Deeb (@crashleyonfire) July 21, 2018
What Provoked Deeb?
It’s unclear specifically what provoked Deeb to make those comments, but Kassouf has a theory.
“Apparently, he’s always been a Will Kassouf hater from my fun table antics, speech play, and general enjoyment of the game,” he told CardsChat. “It probably stems from the 2016 WSOP Main Event. He’s part of Team JohnnyBax and it’s no surprise Cliff Josephy doesn’t like me.”
In 2016, Kassouf finished 17th in the Main Event ($338,288) while Cliff “JohnnyBax” Josephy made the final table.
During that year’s Main Event TV coverage, Josephy displayed frustration with Kassouf’s constant tanking and speech play, perhaps the reason he isn’t a fan of the mouthy Brit.
On his recent podcast, Joey Ingram asked Deeb if he and Kassouf teamed to coach Tony Miles, the runner-up, at this year’s Main Event final table.
“No, he was not coaching,” Deeb responded. “He was attempting to be an attention-whore cheerleader.”
The poker pros were both spotted in the crowd on ESPN’s live telecast, as was Josephy who was there railing 5th place finisher Joe Cada.
“He clearly showed his true colors in that podcast with his unprovoked, unprofessional, and vindictive comments,” Kassouf told CardsChat. “But I guess haters gonna hate.”
Deeb provided coaching for Miles during the final table, but Kassouf, who said he had “only met Tony Miles that week,” went to support the eventual runner-up because “I loved his enthusiasm.”
“He stopped me in the Rio hallway with his entourage to tell me he just bluffed (eventual champion) John Cynn on the Main Event feature table with ‘nine-high like a boss,” Mr. Speech Play said.
‘Haters Gonna Hate’
Much like Phil Hellmuth but without the 15 WSOP bracelets, Kassouf is a polarizing figure because of his antics at the table. Some poker fans don’t appreciate his speech play and tanking, but many find that type of behavior entertaining.
But Will says he doesn’t care what you think and has a word for those who want him to shut his yapper.
“Those individuals who can’t take the speech play and banter at the table shouldn’t be playing live poker,” he said. “You’ve got to have thick skin if you’re to survive in this game and snowflakes who cry about something talking and having fun at the table have no place in the live arena.”
“They’re better off staying at home in their underpants, clicking a mouse button and playing online because that’s all they’re good for.”
Kassouf uses speech play as a “weapon” when he plays poker. Don’t expect him to tone it down to appease the haters.
“Whatever it takes, however long it takes, as long as I’m playing within the rules, I’ll play, say, and do what I like,” Kassouf said. “And if others don’t like it, I’ll do it even more as it’s positive expected-value with regards to my opponents playing badly, making wrong decisions, going on tilt, and me taking their chips which is ultimately the goal on any table you play. Booyah!”
Poker Players Take Sides
Poker Twitter is similar to Political Twitter in that people tend to gang up and either blindly defend an individual or bash someone. The Deeb-Kassouf feud has been no different.
there's no need to respond to this attention seeker. No one cared during the main event but during the 50k people tried to get his deepstack moved because of him. He's more than welcome to try to play any of 50 people I could name in any game of his choice. Just let him disappear
— Scott Seiver (@scott_seiver) July 21, 2018
The only shame is how you carry yourself, grow the fuck up and learn to shut the fuck up
— shaun deeb (@shaundeeb) July 20, 2018
More commenters sided with Kassouf than his newfound rival.
If I am honest saying shit like ‘I hate all the coverage ESPN give him’ is just pure jealousy and bitterness! The reason @shaundeeb doesn’t get that type of coverage is because your boring and frankly don’t offer much to the game at all! #growup #hegetsmoreairtimethanme?
— Scott Morgan-Davies (@ScottMorgan18) July 22, 2018
He might be a so-called pro but those words are very amateur, obnoxious and out of order.
Shaun is not good for poker, considering he takes up 3 seats at a table!
— KED (@Ked2211) July 20, 2018
Poker Twitter has now fully evolved into adult high school with all the drama, although we use the term “adult” loosely. It even has “hall monitors”, those who claim to be the moral compass of the poker community (we won’t mention any names but if you’re a regular on Poker Twitter, you can figure it out), letting everyone else know what is and isn’t acceptable behavior.
Heads-Up for Rolls?
As is the case when two poker players feud, fans want to know if they’ll settle the dispute at the table with a heads-up match a la Cate Hall versus Mike Dentale. Kassouf isn’t so sure about that.
“I could play him heads-up as I don’t fear anyone, although it wouldn’t be a priority in my life right now,” he said. “I don’t play much heads-up, to be honest, and he’d obviously be a big favorite. It would be more of an ego contest over a small sample, so it wouldn’t really prove much regardless of who wins.”
It appears a Deeb-Kassouf grudge match is unlikely, but the feud continues.