Fast-talking Brit William Kassouf and his polarizing speech play strategy has been the primary headline of the 2016 WSOP and his bustout on ESPN last night was nothing short of explosive.
Kassouf made it to the final two tables thanks to his gift of gab but the remaining players at the final two tables refused to give the former Lawyer anything on his final day.
Still, it would take two dramatic coolers to send the Englishman packing. In the first hand Kassouf got wamboozled by Gordon Vayo turning a flush, which depleted a third of his stack.
The second hand, which some have pegged as the "hand of the tournament", saw Griffin Benger finally lose his cool and angrily berate Kassouf right before busting him out of the event.
It’s Day 7 of the Main Event and there are 17 players remaining.
Approximate stack sizes:
William Kassouf — 15,700,000
Griffin Benger — 17,475,000
The blinds are:
200,000/400,000 with a 50,000 ante
Kassouf just lost a cooler to Gordon Vayo when his set of aces ran into a turned flush. Kassouf has been somewhat quieter than usual on Day 7 but still taking his time. The entire feature table is firmly anti-Kassouf by this point.
Griffin Benger opens to 875,000 from UTG.
William Kassouf (in the hijack) goes into the tank contemplating his next action.
The Englishman is actually very quiet at this point in the hand and seems very serious.
The rest of the table on the other hand looks impatient.
Eventually Kassouf decides to 3-bet to 2,300,000. Everyone else gets out of the way and Kassouf starts monologuing stating that he thinks he has the best hand at the moment.
Benger considers his course of action while Kassouf continues to talk. Benger is stone-cold serious and Kassouf even tells him to smile at one point:
Benger ignores the talking and decides to 4-bet to 5,600,000.
At this point Kassouf tries to probe Benger for information. He asks Benger a series of questions but gets nothing back. Eventually he asks Benger for a count but the Canadian won’t even give him that and eventually Gordon Vayo steps in gives Kassouf the count.
Since Benger won’t talk Kassouf starts talking to himself.
“Is this another cooler?” he says. “If you’ve got it, you’ve got it. I don’t think I can pass here.”
Kassouf then turns to Benger and asks him what he wants.
“Want me to go all-in or fold?” he asks. “Talk to me. If you don’t saying anything I might have to ship it here.”
“You want to gamble?”
After a a little over two minutes of non-stop talking from Kassouf, Benger finally breaks character and sighs.
At this point Jerry Wong calls clock on Kassouf.
Benger is clearly upset by this point and launches into an all-out assault on Kassouf and his style of play.
“You’re just an abusive person, man. It’s just not funny. It’s not a game. You’re being abusive to me. It’s called verbal abuse.”
Kassouf disagrees and asks how he is being abusive.
“You’re a bully,” said Benger. “It’s rude. It’s mean.”
“It’s called speech play,” says Kassouf.
“It’s not called speech play, it’s called being a bad person,” said Benger. “You should really check yourself. You should check your privilege.”
“I’m trying to get information,” says Kassouf.
“This is verbal abuse,” says Benger. “This is what it feels like. Everyone is staring at you now.”
Kassouf looks to TD Jack Effel but Benger retorts, “He’s not your Dad. He’s not going to help you. No one is going to help you.”
“You don’t need to go on tilt,” says Kassouf. “It’s called speech play.”
“No one is going to help you, the bet is 5.6 million chips,” responds Benger.
“I understand that,” said Kassouf. “I’m trying to get information from you. That’s not verbal abuse.”
“Yes it is,” says Benger. “Ask anyone else here.”
“You want to gamble?” asks Kassouf. “I’m all-in.”
Kassouf puts his entire 13.4 stack in the middle.
“I call,” says Benger instantly.
The players reveal their hands:
“Come on baby!” exclaims an emotional Benger. “LET’S GO! Whatever happens, he’s coolered. WHATEVER HAPPENS HE’S COOLERED.”
“Put a king, I don’t care,” says Benger as he stalks around the floor. “I’m fine! My life is good.”
“Now we’re having fun,” laughs Vayo.
“Give it to him,” says Benger. “I don’t care. He’s still miserable. I’m happy.”
“You can’t take it,” says Kassouf. “You let it get to you. You’re losing it. I got under your skin man.”
The flop comes:
“This feels like Will against the world,” says commentator Norman Chad. “And the world is winning.”
Despite taking a massive lead in the hand, Benger looks nervous.
“What’s that?” says Kassouf putting his hand to his ear. “King on the river? King on the river. One time? One time.”
“COME ON!” exclaims Benger as the crowd cheers.
Benger takes the entire 30+ million chips pot (which would help propel him to the 2016 November Nine) while Kassouf busts in 17th place to earn $338,288.
“Nice hand,” says Kassouf quietly.
Vayo and Wong complain that Kassouf should have gotten all-in much faster.
Kassouf shakes everyone’s hand (although Michael Niwinski appears to snub him) and heads for the exit.
People really didn’t like playing against William Kassouf. Just ask Gordon Vayo, Stacy Matuson, Cliff Josephy and various others.
On the other hand audiences would probably point to Kassouf as the single most entertaining aspect of the 2016 WSOP.
Kassouf does have a few big names in his favor too, with Daniel Negreanu being one of his more boisterous advocates.
Audiences seem split right down the middle as to whether Kassouf is good for the game or not but we'll definitely be seeing the Englishman at the tables again.