This rise of William Kassouf at the 2016 World Series of Poker came at the expense of Stacy Matuson. The epic bluff against her sparked controversy and paved a path that resulted in him becoming one of the most polarizing poker figures in recent years.
Matuson appears to be tired of hearing about Kassouf playing “9-high like a boss” and is ready to take him down a couple of pegs. She recently posted a video on Instagram challenging Kassouf to a heads-up match the first week of February at the 888Live Poker Festival at King’s Casino Rozvadov.
The secrets out! #lol after the whole #media #storm on #espn the #fans #888poker want #redemption #headsup #match #Poker against #WilliamKassouf. Let’s be real if I called with the queens no one would know who William Kassouf was at that time. So it will be happening 1st week of February in #Prague #live @Kingscasino @thegrinder44 will be commentating playbyplay. Time to play!! #excited #boom #lettheninjacomeout . . . #poker #pros #duel #cheeky #fun #headsup #lol #media #challenges #trophy #letsseewhotherealbossis 💃🏻♠
While we’ve yet to see official confirmation of Kassouf accepting the challenge, he’s been retweeting various comments on Twitter associated with the challenge, so we’ll assume at this point that we’re going to have some gratuitous heads-up action soon.
In a poker world where there seems to be a new “poker feud” every time we turn around, this is one showdown that all poker fans can get behind and something that should be fantastic for poker.
Tale of the Tape
If you look at the “straight numbers” on Hendon Mob, it would seem that Kassouf has the best of it going into this match. He has $1.27 million in career earnings versus just $191,583 for Matuson.
Kassouf’s poker career dates back to 2009 and prior to 2016, his best live score was a 6th place finish in the 2009 Irish Open for $133k. His fortunes improved dramatically in 2016 following his 17th place run in the Main Event.
He’s cashed 11 times, made two final tables and “won” the €10k EPT Prague High Roller in mid-December. Kassouf earned $953k of his career totals in 2016 alone.
Matuson doesn’t have a million in career earnings but she is used to high-pressure situations. In 2005, she made the final table of the WPT Ultimate Poker Classic Main Event, finishing 5th. She also went deep in the 2010 WSOP Ladies Championship, finishing 17th.
Matuson spent several years working as a poker dealer starting in 1993. This gave her an education in poker, people and led to her friendship with Michael and Robert Mizrachi. Later, she co-founded the Mizrachi Dealer Academy, which later became the WSOP Dealer Academy.
Matuson has the skills to be successful in poker and in business, so this makes her just as formidable an opponent as Kassouf.
A Grudge Match that Even Casual Fans Can Get Into
By and large, I’ve never been a big fan of many of the random grudge matches or challenges issued amongst pros. Usually it is because there isn’t really enough of a story to sell the average match to casual fans. Sure, the hardcore fans of poker will tune in or be ready to assimilate all the action but your average casual fan isn’t going to be as invested.
This match between Matuson and Kassouf is different in that it has history dating back to last summer and history that was internationally televised. The average poker fan knows all about their heated confrontation and “9 high like a boss” has become a part of the poker lexicon.
Kassouf – Matuson started on the biggest stage in poker and is something that all poker fans can get behind. Matuson has her supporters who believe that Kassouf is a clown while Kassouf has all the fanboy and fangirls that are clamoring that “personality is back” in poker thanks to his antics.
Let’s Get it On!
Regardless of how this match turns out, it is great for poker. If Matuson comes out the victor, the chants of “overrated” will start to echo throughout social media. She claims that nobody would know Kassouf if not for bluffing her, so now she has the chance to back up that claim.
With that said, Kassouf is in almost the perfect spot. If he wins, his legend continues to grow. His fans will cheer that he’s proven that he’s the boss and odds are he’ll pick up additional fans. If he loses, that doesn’t change what happened at the WSOP or his success since that time. His fans will still follow and support him.
The poker world as a whole is who benefits from this matchup. It has a perfect backstory and has fans that are passionate on both sides. The match isn’t some “beef of the week” that we see in the poker world and something that fans and the media can get behind.
I know I’m ready to watch this battle? Are you? So in the words of Hall of Fame boxing referee Mills Lane – Let’s Get it On!