William Kassouf: “I Just Ignore the Haters and Laugh”

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You could argue no one had more of an impact on ESPN’s coverage of the 2016 WSOP Main Event than English motormouth William Kassouf.

ESPN’s cameras instantly connected with Kassouf when he managed to bluff Stacy Matuson while slinging a bunch of catchphrases such as “Nine-high, like boss.”

Those cameras pretty much never left as Kassouf made it all the way to the final two tables before falling to Griffin Benger in a spectacular, made-for-TV hand.

Even after the WSOP was over, people couldn’t stop talking about Kassouf and whether his non-stop “speech play” was over the line.

Kassouf has returned to the WSOP in 2017 to take part in the massive Colossus event currently running at the Rio. PokerListings had a short chat to get his thoughts on his new-found recognition, the ESPN broadcast and his plans for the summer.

PokerListings: How does it feel to be back at the WSOP?

William Kassouf Elimination 2016 Main Event
Will Kassouf in last year's Main Event.

William Kassouf: It’s good to be back! It was actually an unexpected trip to come back this early.

I usually head over here towards the end of the series but Grosvenor Poker sponsored me to play the Colossus in return for getting involved with their team and online qualifiers.

They paid for my trip out here so I decided to play this event for the first time.

It’s quite an experience. People are busting out right, left and center on every table. I’m doing OK, just over starting stack.

PL: Can you tell me a little about your year? You’ve been all over the place.

WK: Yeah I went to EPT Prague, played the €10k High Roller, satellited in for €1,500 and ended up chopping to get €532,000.

That was a great score — on my birthday no less — and it was a great way to sum up the year.

PL: You were a breakout star of the WSOP broadcast. What’s it like getting recognized now?

WK: It’s been sick. It was just phenomenal to get the amount of publicity and coverage that I got.

Kassouf Fan
A Kassouf fan.

Now when I’m walking down the hallway at the Rio people see me and shout, “Nine-high like a boss!” or “Heart of a lion!”

They embrace it. They love it and it’s great to hear that I was inspirational to a lot of players.

PL: It sounds like the majority of the feedback you’ve gotten has been positive. Is that accurate?

WK: Yeah definitely. More positive than negative although there are some haters online. I’ve heard “Nine-high, like an idiot” a few times. I just ignore it and laugh. Jealousy doesn’t get you anywhere.

Who are these random people online anyways? Just hiding behind their computers and berating players online. No one has ever heard of them.

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William Kassouf in the 2017 Colossus.

It is what it is. Everyone has got their own opinion so I have to respect that but a lot more lovers than haters I think.

I think I came out a lot better in the coverage than the Americans did. And the floor staff as well, considering the rulings that went against me.

PL: When you look back at the ESPN coverage, would you have changed anything about how you played the tournament?

WK: Uhhh, maybe folding kings in the last hand? [Laughs]

No. It was an absolute cooler. I did think for one second about folding the hand. It would have been a massive laydown though.

No regrets in my game though. I don’t think I’d change anything or do anything differently. I was very happy to get as far as I did.

Finishing 17th is a massive achievement. Will be very hard to top that this year. I’m aiming for 16th or final table in the Main Event this year.

PL: Do you still have a day job, or is it poker full-time now?

WK: I’m playing poker full-time. I’m a lawyer by profession but I’m taking a break from the legal career.

PL: How are you enjoying the full time poker grind?

WK: It’s good. I embrace it. Win or lose you’ll always see me smiling. It’s all part of the game. I just try to play my game take each day as it comes. Each level as it comes.

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Will Kassouf wearing some boss glasses in Europe.

PL: Did you come here with any specific goals for yourself?

WK: To get the lot, loudly. That’s the message I’m getting from my fans. Don’t do anything quietly. Keep up the good work. Don’t change.

That’s just me in a nutshell. I think how you play poker depends on your personality. I’m a fun-loving, sociable guy and that reflects on the poker table.

I love bantering with other players. It’s great to get involved.

PL: So what’s your exact WSOP schedule like? Will you play a large number of events?

WK: It’s just the Colossus this week and maybe the MSPT at the Venetian. I’ll also do the $1,500 WSOP NLHE next week. At the end of next week I’ll see how I’m doing and decide if I want to stay for the entire summer.

If not I’ll head back to the UK and I’ll be back on June 26 to play loads of other Main Events like the Wynn Classic, Aria WPT500 and Planet Hollywood Goliath as well.

Then there’s the WSOP Main Event.

PL: Any reason for all the non-WSOP events?

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William Kassouf and a new friend.

WK: I think they offer great value. There’s so much value to be had, even outside the WSOP. The WSOP set the bar quite high in terms of the standard of play.

That’s not to say I won’t complete in some of the bracelet events but there’s just so much value out there.

It’s a big chance to make some big bucks and save the run-good for the WSOP Main Event.

PL: Any new slogans for the Main Event this year?

WK: Possibly! You’ll have to wait and see. I’m sure the cameras will be on me so we’ll see what happens.

I actually didn’t have any slogans or catchphrases going into the Main Event last year. They just came to me as I went along. The whole “Nine-high, like a boss” and the coconuts and everything I just came up with on the spot.

I think I thought of the first one in that big hand against Stacy Matuson and the second one was against Ka Lau on the feature table.

Nothing was planned. We’ll see. I’ll just play my game. Whatever happens, happens. Another new catchphrase might be born.

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