The poker room can be a quiet place but not when England’s William Kassouf is around.
Kassouf, who is taking a break from his job as a solicitor in London to play poker, famously tilted Vanessa Selbst during EPT Barcelona with his incessant talking.
He’s now deep in the biggest poker tournament in the world and he’s up to his old tricks.
“I do enjoy talking at the table,” he said.
“There’s more to it than just doing it for the show or the cameras. I really enjoy getting into my opponent’s mind. Really trying to assess each situation as it comes and get a read on them.”
Tilting Famous Poker Pros
It seems to be working as Kassouf had a massive stack heading into Day 5 of the venerable tournament with just 251 players remaining.
“At the end of the day poker is an information-seeking game and what better way to get information from your opponents than to actually physically speak to them?” he said.
“It’s better than just putting chips in a pot, scratching your head and not knowing where you are. If people don’t like it and donk off their chips to me, then so be it."
Kassouf talked circles around seasoned pro Vanessa Selbst at EPT10 London and she ended up busting. You can watch the famous hand Kassouf played against her below:
Kassouf says they had previous experience with each other as he knocked her out of the tournament the previous year.
“I think she just went on tilt,” he said. “She’s a fantastic player. Very aggressive. Likes to outplay people but every time she opened in that tournament I peeled and invited everyone to call. She was having trouble outplaying five people every hand.”
Kassouf also talked. A lot.
“When we were heads-up I was speaking to her all the time and I think it was getting to her,” he said. “I wasn’t trying to needle her specifically or target her. It seemed to get under her skin. It made great TV.”
“A player of her caliber shouldn’t let a bit of speech play or something like that get to her and bust Day 1 of a six-day tournament.”
ESPN Zeroes in on William Kassouf
You better believe that ESPN’s cameras are focused heavily on Kassouf and his talkative nature as the gargantuan 2016 Main Event progresses.
“It’s a big part of my game,” he said. “It’s not going to be some people’s cup of tea. Some people really love it and some people really hate it. It’s like marmite.”
It’s been a rough road for Kassouf getting to Day 5. He had a below average stack on every day leading up to Day 3.
“It’s been a tough grind,” he said. “My first three days were horrendous. I finally doubled with A-K against pocket queens. Standard flip.
"El Classico. I got there. Hit the ace. Doubled up and went from there.”
Yesterday Kassouf peaked at over two million chips and was playing with a large amount of confidence.
“I’m doing pretty good today,” he said. “Just doing the same thing. Gambling with the nuts with a redraw to the monkey nuts to river the absolute coconuts.”
“They don’t want to believe me. I keep telling them that if they get involved with me they’ll have one out: the door. And they’ll be a favorite to hit it.”
Kassouf Rubs Some Players Wrong Way
Kassouf has a habit of making people uncomfortable at the table and once it nearly came to blows.
“There was this German guy at EPT Barcelona. He kicked off, he started shouting at me. Told me to shut the F up.
"Told me to hurry up. Called the clock on me. I wasn’t even in the hand.”
Eventually the German player told Kassouf to meet him outside the casino after play ended.
“He was being really threatening,” he said. “That’s the closest I’ve come to a physical altercation. I’ve never been in a fight in my life, on the poker table or off. I’m not that kind of guy.”
“I like to think I’m a friendly guy. Some people take it the wrong way and they seem to go on tilt and blow up like that.”
Fortunately for Kassouf the tournament director stepped and gave the German player a warning.
Not Intimidated by Anyone
Right now Kassouf is focused entirely on the Main Event and the $8,000,000 first-place up top. Despite playing with some of the best poker players in the world, Kassouf claims he’s not intimidated.
“I’m just going to play my game, my way,” he said. “I don’t care who’s at my table. I don’t care who they are, how many bracelets they’ve won or cashes they’ve made. Or if they’re world champions.
"It doesn’t faze me. I’m just here to play my game. That’s it. No mistakes, no regrets.”
You can follow Kassouf’s progress via the PokerListings on-demand live updates.