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On Sunday, poker fans around the world saw the demise of William Kassouf on the final day of action in the 2016 WSOP Main Event. His bustout hand was so epic that major publications like USA Today have reported on it. It is akin to Daniel Negreanu’s 11th place bustout a year ago, but for different reasons.

Ironically, the hand will be most memorable not for Kassouf but for the verbal assault by November Niner Griffin Benger. He flipped the script and outKassouf’d Kassouf. Did Benger go too far or was this tirade a well-disguised piece of strategy to get all of Kassouf’s stack?


So What Exactly Happened?

Anyone that has been watching ESPN’s coverage of the 2016 WSOP since episode 4 is familiar with William Kassouf and his antics. We have discussed his antics at length, as has most every other poker media outlet, so we won’t go into whether they are good or bad for poker.

Kassouf made a deep run in the Main Event and ultimately fell in 17th place. His bustout hand was admittedly a horrid cooler with his running pocket kings into pocket aces. However, the hand is more notable for Griffin Benger’s speech than it is for Kassouf’s bustout.

After a four-bet from Benger, Kassouf continued to incorporate his “table talk” and was trying to get some type of a read on Benger. After a bit, the clock was called and Benger went into a verbal tirade against Kassouf.

Benger called him a bad person and a bully before telling him to “check his privilege.” When Kassouf appeared to be a bit uncomfortable and began looking at the tournament director, Benger told him that he now knew how it felt to be abused by another player and that the floor man wasn’t going to help him.

Kassouf, appearing a bit agitated, then shoved all-in and Benger made the insta-call and slammed down his pocket aces. Kassouf claimed that he got into Benger’s head but Benger insists that he didn’t care and that it doesn’t make any difference either way.

The board failed to produce anything higher than a 10 and Kassouf left to collect his $333k payday.

Watch the video below to watch Kassouf run pocket kings into pocket aces – like a boss:


Did Benger Cross the Line or Was it Smart Strategy?

What amazes me is the number of people that have come out stating that Benger was a jerk for his verbal assault against Kassouf. Some believe that Benger crossed a line and that he is the one at fault in the incident and not Kassouf.

Personally, I am of the mindset that you need to be able to take punishment as well as dish it out. Benger did not say anything that hasn’t been already said by poker fans in the weeks leading up to Sunday’s episode. One could argue that Kassouf was due to have a player blow up on him based on his constant antics at the table.

I’m one of those that think that Benger partially used that “blowup” as a way to get Kassouf to go ahead and commit his stack. This was the perfect opportunity to say his peace at Kassouf and perfectly disguising the strength of his hand. Had Benger been sitting there with A-K or a low pocket pair, one has to wonder if he makes a similar speech. However, in this spot he could throw his own tirade, turn the screws into Kassouf a bit and get him to shove into the pre-flop nuts.

Karma is a Bitch – Except That’s Not What Happened

I also want to address all those that think that “karma” caught up with Kassouf during this hand. While that is a nice little saying that we like to throw out to make ourselves feel better when a villain is hurt, that is not what happened here.

Think about it. Kassouf entered the Main Event for $10k and manage to play all the way to 17th place. He outlasted 6,720 players to get to that point. When he hit the rail, he did so with a $333,000 payday. That’s 33x his initial investment. Furthermore, that was his biggest live payday to date.

That’s hardly karma. Karma would have him busting out in a few hands after serving his penalty in episode 4. This was simply a instance of him running the second best hand in poker into the best hand in poker.

Love Him or Hate Him – He Made the Coverage Worth Watching

Poker fans in general love a good story. When you think back to WSOP broadcasts over the years, many of us remember the personalities more than we do the champions. Players like Hevad Khan, Prahlad Friedman and even Mike Matusow made the episodes “must-see television.”

Regardless of your opinions regarding Kassouf’s antics, you have to admit that he made the broadcasts interesting. Out of all the players in this year’s Main Event, Kassouf will be the one that poker fans talk about years from now. Thanks to ESPN’s coverage, Kassouf has become a household name and people will be playing hands “like a boss” for years to come.

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James Guill

James Guill began his poker career in 2006, spending two years traveling the US tournament circuit. Since 2008, he has covered the game extensively for some of the biggest names in the industry. When not writing about the latest poker news, he can be found hunting for antique treasures in Central Virginia.