Eighteen months ago William Kassouf was still some random, relatively unknown British poker player who’d gotten a bit of poker fame after a hand with Vanessa Selbst. Now though, the 35 year old is a poker celebrity, playing on Poker After Dark and posing for selfies with international rock stars that wanted HIS photo.
“This is how I seem to roll these days. Straight from London to Vegas, as you do, to play the Poker After Dark, $25,000 buy-in with the likes of Mike Matusow, Jean-Robert Bellande, David Williams and couple of other heroes. It was a good lineup, fun table,” said Kassouf.
Kassouf was part of the lineup for PAD’s ‘Voices Carry’ week that featured other loud and brash poker players. Kassouf of course rose to this level of poker celebrity during the 2016 World Series of Poker Main Event. Kassouf’s “speech play” drew the ire of other players and earned him warnings and penalties on his way to a 17th place finish.
“From two years ago to now, it’s been phenomenal. Since last year’s Main Event coverage, people talked about (my) 15 minutes of fame, ‘Oh it won’t last, we’re not going to hear about him in six months’ … a year later, ‘Oh we won’t hear about him another few months’. I’ve gone a year and a half since then and here I am right now mixing it up with all the superstars, the rock stars, the celebrities, the poker heroes,” said Kassouf.
Now Kassouf is onto Day 2 of the World Poker Tour Legends of Poker. While it’s his first time in Los Angeles, it’s also his first time visiting somewhere in the United States other than Las Vegas.
“Thought I’d make the short trip over to LA while I’m in this neck of the woods and come play the WPT Legends of Poker,” said Kassouf. “Believe it or not, I’ve been to the US seven times, Las Vegas seven times – never been anywhere outside of Nevada. So I thought I’ve got to give this tournament a spin, Legends of Poker, I’ve heard lots of good things.”
Playing on Poker After Dark afforded him the opportunity to play with some of poker’s biggest stars, a trend that continued with the Legends of Poker. Kassouf rattles off names like Scotty Nguyen and Phil Hellmuth before talking about possibly the biggest name in the tournament. – even if the poker world doesn’t know much about him.
“GACKT, Japan’s #1 rock star is here. He wanted to have a photo with me. He said he watched me in the WSOP. He didn’t know I’m actually half-Japanese, half-Lebanese, and he was taken aback by that and he was buzzing,” said Kassouf. “The fact that he watched me in the WSOP last year and wanted to have a photo with me, it’s great. I put a photo with him up on Twitter and so many people are re-tweeting it all over Japan. It’s gone crazy.”
Even though he’s the one being asked for photos with fans and other players, Kassouf still has a little bit of recreational player / poker fan in him. Having become a household name for poker fans around the world meant a different experience for him when he returned to the RIo this past summer.
“I couldn’t’ step like two minutes in the Rio without someone shouting ‘Nine high like a boss!’ or ‘The coconuts, mate! Can we have a selfie?’ So it’s great, it does get tiring after a while, but I enjoy it,” admitted Kassouf.