Friday, July 20, 2018

Like a Boss!

This story took place my second week in Vegas last month.  For reasons that will become clear shortly, I really wanted to get this posted while the WSOP was still going on, but it didn't work out that way.  You know how it goes—you can't always get what you want.  I also wanted to marry Kate Upton, but somehow Justin Verlander beat me to her, the bastard.

Back then, Lightning was in town.  He had been playing poker all day while I was working.  He had arranged to meet up with VegasDWP that evening and play at the Wynn.  So after I finished working, I headed over to the Wynn to join them.

This being the middle of the series (and of course, Wynn had their series going on, the Wynn Classic), the place was really busy.  Lightning and DWP were already playing, but they couldn't get the same table.  So DWP was already on the list to transfer to Lightning's game.  When I finally got called to a game, I told them to put me on the transfer list to Lightning's game as well.

At this point in my trip, I had been pretty much card dead the entire time.  Things didn't change this night at the Wynn.  I was hoping that maybe transferring to Lightning's table would bring me some decent cards finally, but no one was leaving his table, and for a long time the three of us were all stuck at separate tables.

The only table between us that ever had empty seats was my table.  At one point, seat 9 opened up, and I saw a player heading for it.  As he approached, I noticed he looked familiar.  Very familiar.  By the time he took his seat at the game, I realized that this guy was the spitting image of notorious "speech-play" expert William Kassouf. 

You remember Kassouf, right?  The guy who became infamous because of one particular poker hand that was shown endlessly from the WSOP in 2016.  The "show" he put on was so noteworthy that I actually did a post discussing it, which you can find here.  If you just want to see the hand that caused all the fuss, you can find it here.

I was sitting in seat 2, far away from him, but man it sure looked like him.  I wanted to get a second and third opinion, so I texted both Lightning and DWP  that I suspected Kassouf was at my table and for them to see for themselves.  The both did and agreed it did look like Kassouf.

Well initially, I couldn't hear anything he was saying over the noise in the room, but eventually I heard his voice, that distinctive British accent, and I realized that there was a good reason it looked like Kassouf. It was Kassouf!

Now my earlier post about him was quite critical of his schtick.  And I've mentioned in other posts that I rather hate playing against guys who like to talk to me when the action is on me—when players engage in just the type of speech-play that Kassouf is famous for.  You can find a post about that here.  So my initial reaction to having Kassouf at my table was "Ugh.  Can I get that table change expedited, please?"

But I was a bit ambivalent because I'm always on the hunt for good blogging material and it did occur to me that this character could very easily supply me with something to write about.

I had hardly played a hand before he arrived and not much changed after he got there.  I was just so card dead.

Kassouf made his presence felt pretty much immediately.  He opened pots and was betting bigger than what had been the standard opening for this table.  Usually when I play 1/3 at the Wynn, players open to $12 or maybe $15.  It's not unusual though to see smaller openings.  But when there are aggros at the table, suddenly you see openings for $20 or $25.  Kassouf opened for $15 or $20, if not $25.  And until he had gotten there, a lot of the times the pot had been opened for $10 or less.

As soon as he put out his first $20 open, the guy to my left, an older gentleman with a big stack, said to him, "Why are you betting so big?"  Kassouf said, "What?  It's not so big."  I am quite sure that the guy had no idea who Kassouf was.

These two developed a running dialog, mostly with the guy next to me complaining about the size of Kassouf's bets.  But of course that did not nothing to affect Kassouf's bet sizing.  I will say though, that after awhile, when many of his opening raises went uncalled, he pulled back a little and started opening for normal amounts.  To be fair, he sometimes limped and yes, there were times he even folded preflop.

Early on, when he made a big raise after the flop and everyone folded, the lady on my right said, "Oh wow, he must have had a big hand."  The guy on my left said, "No, he had absolutely nothing."  I suspect he was right.  Oh yeah, he was also pretty aggro after the flop, of course.

When the seat to his right opened up, the new player in it raised his first hand.  This really pleased Kassouf.  "Oh first hand, you're already into it?  Yeah, yeah.  Like a boss!"  I of course cracked up but no one else reacted.

There was one time where he really acted like the Kassouf from that WSOP hand.  It was post-flop, perhaps on the river, not sure, and the guy on his right made a fairly small bet.  Kassouf shoved.  It was quite the overbet although the guy who bet originally didn't have anywhere near the chipstack Kassouf had and they were heads up.

The guy went into the tank.  "I don't know….I don't know."  So Kassouf said, "Well, tell me what you have and I'll tell you if you should call…..You can tell me what you have."  Yeah, he really said that.  I don't remember the board, but he said, "Do you have a 10?  If you have a 10 you should definitely call."  Of course this left the guy totally befuddled.  Kassouf kept it up, asking what the guy had, and making suggestions.  "Well if you have a 10 you should call for sure."  He probably mentioned some other cards too, I can't recall.  I believe he also suggested some scenarios where he recommended folding.

But of course it left the poor guy hopelessly confused.  And so he folded.  And then Kassouf asked him what he folded.  He told him, but I didn't hear what he said.  And then Kassouf said, "It was a good fold, it was a really good fold."  Somehow I suspect it was probably the worse fold in the history of poker.

When he got folds he would frequently asked what they folded and always tell them they made good laydowns.  One time a guy told him he folded top pair, top kicker.  Kassouf seemed a little shocked.  "Man, if you laid that down, that's a really good fold!"  Again, I suspect that it was a really bad fold.

Naturally, whenever his bets did get called, he managed to have the goods.  One hand he opened big, was three-bet, he shoved, the guy snap-called and Kassouf flipped over two Kings.  The other guy didn't show and eventually lost the pot.

One of the dealers was telling him about the wild action at the PLO game so he got put on the list for that.  And he was called to it before I was called to Lightning's game.  So that was the end of my evening with Mr. Kassouf.

I had fun when I finally joined Lightning and DWP, but I remained card dead the entire time, so really no hands of mine worth writing about.

As for Kassouf, I have to admit that he's really not a bad guy.  I don't like his poker tactics but he seemed like a decent fellow and was just out to have some fun (and win some money).  Probably a fun guy to have a beer with.  But a tough player to play against and I do think he pushes his verbal tactics a bit too far.


  1. To those who think that Kassouf's jabbering is good for the game there is one caveat to consider. He slows the game down. If a second player at the same table matches Kassouf's jabbering the game gets brutally slow. Add a third player with Kassouf's antics and the game at that table is no longer worth playing. When that verbal play thing slows down any game unnecessarily that is a bad thing.

    1. Good point, Lester and that time suck makes an even bigger impact in a tournament, which is what Kassouf seemingly prefers. In a cash game, it's not that big a deal but taking precious time up in a tourney with his antics negatively affects everyone at his table.

      In my game, I felt like I was just killing time waiting to move to where my pals were playing (and was not getting cards to play). But if I was getting hands, it would be annoying to lose that time. You know his antics confuse other players and makes them take more times to make a decision. Of course he's hoping they rush thru the decision and make the wrong one.

  2. What does like a boss mean? If you are truly a "boss" and you are good at it. It means stress, worrying about your team, investors, being responsible for everything, it's is ultimately your fault when things go wrong and again if you are good at it, you give all the credit to the folks who work with and for you. As an older dude, I am done being the boss. :)

    Also the time suck thing is an excellent point, hadn't thought of that aspect. I like the game to move along too
    Thanks for the post

    Rochester, NY

    1. Yes, I considered going off on a tangent on how I don't like the expression "Like a Boss" but somehow restrained myself. Certainly Kassouf isn't the first person I've heard using it. I agree it's a dumb espression. I was a boss throughout most of my career and although I enjoyed it, there's a lot of responsibility and headaches.

      Perhaps it refers to the kind of boss who is a like a major celebrity and just has a personal assistant he can order around willy nilly? I'm thinking that may be it.

    2. The celebrity thing where you order someone around is not a boss that is the definition of a jerk. It really is a very dumb expression. he would make more sens if he said like a "pro" I admire your restraint I would have hopefully politely told him to be quite and gone off on my boss tirade. You should hear me go off on about Uber and the other disruptive economy BS (and get off my lawn) which is also easy to say from the safety of my keyboard.

      Not to inflate your ego but your blog is pretty much the only one I read regularly (no pressure)


    3. Thanks for the kudos, LG. Glad you enjoy my ramblings.