You may talk but not too much


Poker on TV has hard times. Lately only WSOP Main Event regularly has some airtime. By the way, it is already over (as you may know). People want to see live enthralling poker, not just thinking games of hoodies and ranges adepts.

An accident that happened in summer this year on World Series of poker (recently broadcasted) raises a whole row of critical questions:

  • What is real poker?
  • What one can and cannot say while being at the table?
  • Are the tournament rules fair?
  • So on

Let’s describe the issue first. A whole post on 2+2 forums is dedicated to it. Watch first ten minutes of this video, first hand has all the action:

In short: if the player bluffs on the river in a huge pot and makes a verbal pressure on his opponent. He gets a few warnings and it all results in unfair (as many people think) penalty.

The opponent starts to complain after the hand that she had no time for making decision and blames another player at the table for using his right to call a clock on her.

“Jack Effel is a washed-up asshole... Say what you want, but Kassouf was just trying to have a conversation and played on camera, and I can’t say that about 90% of the rest of the player at the World Series. They just sit and don’t talk, hiding in their sweatshirts,” these are the words of the topic starter.

He actively condemns the actions of tournament director who, according to his words, wasn’t even trying to get into the situation:

“If you watch the altercation in full, you'll realize that Jack was completely unreasonable. Will (Kassouf) was being very polite about trying to explain himself, but Jack didn't give him a chance to say a word.”


Here is another commentary made by some other man who personally knows Effel:

“I have talked to him several times when he was managing WSOP Circuit. He seemed like a friendly guy. Time changes people. Few years later in Rio I tried to talk to hime but he refused me and was being very rude. I’ve heard he licks asses of the top players and doesn’t care about the others”.

Main heroes

Let’s first figure out who is William Kassouf, the main hero of the situation. It is a young regular from England. He plays in live tournament since approximately the end of 2000s. He was on the honorable 17th place in the Main Event on WSOP this year and earned $338,288, his career best.

“I’ve been playing with Will once in England, but he wasn’t breaking any rules. Was he trying to get an edge? Probably, yes, but he is always polite and friendly…” claims one of the players.

Here Kassouf bluffs Vanessa Selbst herself, using his main weapon – his mouth:

His opponent, Stacy Matuson was a participant of controversial situation not once:

 “Her attitude doesn’t surprise me at all. I’ve played with her once in SnG tournament, she was blaming a guy on BB for calling her open-raise from button. Blinds were small, second or third level,” adds fuel to the flame another participant of the discussion.

Matuson plays poker since the beginning of 2000s or even earlier, she had no significant success, gout busted of the World Series Main event in the second hundred.

Stacy Matuson Stacy Matuson

Talks is easy

The opinions about the situation were divided into two camps, as they usually do: some if no support the logics of the tournament director, at least understand it and condemn Kassouf; the others take Englishman’s side, calling this normal heads-up play with any weapon good for it – including gestures and language (staying in bounds of the ruler, of course).

 “Idiotic decision. Communication is the part of poker, especially in heads-up. The penalty isn’t justified”.

“William Kassouf is a man. It was within the rules. He makes a big deal, ESPN gave him a lot of airtime this WSOP”.

“I don’t understand where he have crossed the line here. He just begs her to fold, her problem is she can’t see it. Me personally love guys who give away so much information, though they can be irritating”.

“Too much verbal communication at the table is a silly and subjective rule at the same time. Kassouf talks a lot but he didn’t raise the voice and wasn’t trying to distract her from making the decision. He wasn’t trying to get an edge over the opponent and didn’t mention his or someone else’s cards. This is a part of poker, is it not?”


Here are the opposing remarks:

 “He didn’t had to show something with gestures. He showed a huge disrespect to the director by doing that. Yes, sure, we can understand him, but in my opinion, Kassouf went too far. On the other hand, I didn’t hear someone asking for silence. If she needed to make the decision in silence, she could have politely asked for it. Then his talks would be punishable”.

“People forgot how to talk to each other”.

“The penalty is justified. Why to blab while someone is making an important decision. This is the major difference between the talks at the table”.

“Kassouf crossed the line. The floor asked him to stay silent. He didn’t listen. He got penalty. It is not right to tell he technically didn’t break the floor’s request. If the player disagrees he can solve it after the hand with the floor’s management”.

“This guy irritates me. ESPN made an emphasis on him, so I skipped this part. I’d rather listen to Norman Chad’s jokes”.

The issue remains open. What was that? Was it extremely subjective situation with no one correct decision, or the rude mistake by the floor? Were the borders of poker ethics broken? Were his words a weapon? Was he just blabbering helplessly and does such a blab be prohibited in any convenient case?

No matter what the answers to these questions are, Kassouf made a precedent and attracted to the screens much more viewers than would have been without him.

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