You remember William Kassouf, right?
The guy who drove Vanessa Selbst close to insanity at EPT London just by talking to her? The guy with multiple bad accents who lit up the EPT Barcelona feature table stream?
With almost 1 million views of his Selbst moment it's clear poker audiences have taken a shine to the semi-professional poker player/solicitor from London. Not an entirely positive shine, but a shine nonetheless.
The Global Poker League team captains are currently mulling over their wildcard picks and quite a few names have been put forward for consideration. For the most part, those names are professional players seemingly overlooked in the draft.
But the GPL, so we've been told, is a different beast. "For the viewers," not the players, according to GPL creator Alex Dreyfus. Which means it needs action and it needs entertainment.
If those are the key criteria, few can bring more to the table than the polarizing Kassouf.
We met up him in London where he was playing the Unibet Open and the 888poker Local Live event on the same day. If Team Manager of the London Royals Liv Boeree is listening, he's ready to make his case.
Londoner. Lawyer. Royal?
William Kassouf: For one thing, it would be a fantastic experience to be on the London team. I’m a live poker player much more than online.
I’m quite unique regarding my presence at the table. I like to get a lot of reads and tells from my opponents.
The secret behind all the banter and bravado is that I get people to respond, so I get a lot of information.
It’s something I learned over the past 10 years I’ve been playing and it's brought me some good results.
PL: So you think the wildcard player shouldn’t be a professional?
WK: Yes, that’s pretty much why they’re called wildcards.
Wouldn’t it be good to have someone who’s not been seen on TV all the time, but who’s known around the UK and has a familiar face?
I think that’d be great for the game.
PL: Someone like that might have more of a social value.
WK: Indeed, especially if he’s someone who can interact, who brings a bit of speech play into the game and is still able to mix it up with the pros.
PL: Wouldn’t you be intimidated by all the pros?
This guy, amirite?
WK: Not at all. I’ve played in all the big tournaments. I played the World Series Main Event. I played the 10k EPT High Roller in London with Dan Colman and Sam Trickett and all the big boys.
I played my game and gave them the speech; they didn’t know what hit them. They were actually recording it.
I think the Global Poker League might be the future, I’m a Londoner, and for me it would be an honor and a privilege to be on the London team.
PL: What happened after the “Vanessa Selbst incident”?
WK: We actually had history before that but she didn’t know my name. She does now. It was nothing against her personally at all. I just played my game.
She got frustrated because every time I called, everyone called and she couldn’t outplay the whole table. She got miserable, and in the end she went on tilt and busted.
I wouldn’t say I became famous but the views are pretty amazing.
PL: They say “there’s no justice in poker” and you’re a solicitor. Do you think you’re naturally attracted to the game?
WK: I think so. I think there is a direct correlation between being a lawyer and sitting at the poker table.
Action on Liv.
You’re going against an opponent, you try to outwit them and convince the judge that your client is not guilty or whatever.
That’s a skill you can use well in poker. You have to analyse situations and use the information you have to your advantage, so you can win.
PL: What and how often do you play?
WK: I play about one decent tournament a month with buy-ins usually between £200 and £1,000. I play both tournaments and cash game.
I’ve even started playing Omaha, too, and been doing pretty well. It’s a nut game, and I like to gamble with the nuts.
GPL managers have until the end of March to make their wildcard choices.
Check the "speech play" for yourself below: