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Frank Kassela: “Player’s Championship Should Be Dealer’s Choice”

After a successful debut in Las Vegas, the WSOP has brought Dealer’s Choice to Australia.

It was Robert Mizrachi who won the first bracelet awarded in a WSOP Dealer’s Choice tournament. He overcame 419 players to grab a $147,092 top prize.

No tournament of its kind has ever been held in Australia and so plenty were eager to see the WSOP APAC schedule feature a $1,650 Dealer’s Choice.

American Frank Kassela even claims to have made the decision to come to Australia solely because the WSOP APAC had two mixed events, including the Dealer’s Choice.

Kassela finished 6th in the Dealer’s Choice in Vegas this past summer and so we thought he was the perfect person to catch up with during the event at WSOP APAC.

Frank Kassela

PokerListings.com: How have you found this 8-Game version of the Dealers Choice at WSOP APAC compared to the one with more games that you final tabled back in Vegas?

Frank Kassela: The one in the summer, with more games, provided more advantages for players who know the extra eight games. There is so much of a skill difference in those eight games than these standard eight games. Because these ones are so widely played.

PL: When you pick what game to play, is it more important to base your choice on your opponent’s weaknesses or your own strengths?

It’s probably pretty close to 50/50. You just got to take it case by case. It’s important to keep on evaluating your players' weaknesses, but then always lean back towards the game or two that you like the best.

PL: Do you start getting a feel for what game your opponent’s choose before the button gets around to them?

Oh yeah, it’s easy actually.

Especially in the case like at my table two people had showed up and basically straight up said that they don’t know how to play anything but No Limit Hold’em.

Makes it very easy for someone like that!

PL: Do you just then lean on those players who have such obvious weaknesses?

Oh yeah, definitely. That’s the easy part.

PL: Does there seem to be a game that is most popular in these dealer’s choice events?

Well in this one Stud 8 and Stud High have been very popular. I tend to pick Stud games a lot too. When Daniel was at the table, he was picking Stud games. Jeff [Madsen] was picking Stud too.

Frank Kassela

It actually seemed like we were playing half Stud! Probably because we had a couple of players at the table who were weak at Stud. 

PL: Are there any games people don’t choose, like Limit Hold’em perhaps?

Actually, you know what, no one has chosen that in this one!

And to be honest with you, I forget that was even a choice for us to pick until you just said that. [laughs]

PL: How many of the games do you think you need to know, or even know competently, to play an event like this?

I mean, people play them only knowing one or two of the games and that’s okay it just makes it more valuable for the guys who do know all the games.

You know, poker is poker, there is a lot of luck involved in poker so that’s what brings people back. Even the unskilled players like to come play events like this.

PL: Is having so many weaker players like that in a dealer’s choice why you love this type of tournament?

I just like mixed games more than anything. That’s one of the reasons I flew all the way down here, you know, because there are two mixed game tournaments on.

The big game we used to play at the Aria we had a huge range of games. Sometimes 15 to 16 games a day. That’s just what I got used to doing.

It’s just so much more interesting and fun to me than No Limit Holdem.

Frank Kassela

PL: Do you think you have a much bigger edge in a dealer’s choice compared to a standard 8-Game?

I think it’s a much bigger advantage for me and my game.

PL: For those players who don’t know all the games, or aren’t good at them all, should they just straight up avoid getting into bad spots by avoiding playing hands?

Obviously sometimes the cards will dictate when you have to play a hand, but there are definitely positions where you are going to be extra cautious.

Especially when you think there is a player who is particularly good at a certain game who is sitting one or two spots to your left. You don’t want to play games that they are strong at, but you think that game might be a chink in your armor.

Definitely. I think this is how the $50K should be structured.

PL: Do you hope that the WSOP keeps the dealer’s choice as an event moving into the future?

This takes not just being able to play the games well, but also need an ability to evaluate other people’s weakness and figuring out game-selection wise what you need to pick.

It just takes all the different skills you need to be good at poker into account.

Frank Kassela

PL: Do you think events like a dealer’s choice help mixed games grow in popularity?

Some of the people who play the mixed games, like myself, have felt like they were gaining in popularity over the last few years. I would like to say that. It’s tough to say.

I do think the turnout for the dealer’s choice back in the summer was pretty impressive. I also think people are getting more interested in the mixed games in general.

People seem to be getting out there and trying to learn all the games.

PL: How about out here in Australia. Have you found the mixed-game fields to be weaker than back in Vegas?

I don’t know that I’ve played with tons of the locals. I played yesterday’s PLO event and today’s mixed and they were both pretty solid fields.

I played with Lisandro, he’s Australian, but he’s a great player. I guess I haven’t found it overly soft compared to Vegas.

Considering we have only had 84 players in the dealer’s event it’s hard to tell. I think at my table we had four WSOP players of the year at one time! I don’t think it’s a super weak field.

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