FRANK KASSELA WINS WSOP PLAYER OF THE YEAR

NOVEMBER 7, 2010 - 12:00:00 AM PST   |   Nolan Dalla

FRANK KASSELA WINS WSOP PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Frank Kassela, the winner of two gold bracelets at this year’s World Series of Poker has officially locked up the 2010 “Player of the Year” honor. 
 
When his final threat, Michael “the Grinder” Mizrachi was eliminated during Final Table play of the Main Event, Kassela enjoyed what had presumed to be an insurmountable lead in the six-week long points-based competition.  
 
The winner receives a customized gift valued at $25,000.

To put a fitting exclamation point on the triumph, Kassela also cashed in this year’s Main Event.  He ended up accumulating 290 points in this year’s Player of the Year race.  Mizrachi finished with 240 points.

Indeed, when the Main Event began, Kassela had the Player of the Year all but locked up.  If this were a football game, Kassela was leading by six touchdowns at the two-minute warning.  In baseball terms, it was bottom of the ninth with two outs and two strikes, and the team at the plate needed about a dozen runs.  For Kassela to not win, it would have taken an outright win or second place finish by one of his final five rivals – John Juanda (Las Vegas, NV), Vladimir Shchemelev (St. Petersburg, Russia), Dan Heimiller (Las Vegas, NV), Michael Mizrachi (Miramar, FL), or James Dempsey (Brighton, UK). 

But, once Mizrachi made the final table it went from 1 in 7,319 to 1 in 9 in terms of odds of dethroning Kassela's chances.


“As a poker player, I do not think there is anything you can be more proud of than being the WSOP Player of the Year,” Kassela said recently.   “This is where all of the best poker players come to play.  There is nothing that anyone holds back here at the World Series of Poker.  So, if you can come here not just for a few days but for a month and a half and be the WSOP Player of the Year, nothing beats it.”

Kassela is a 42-year-old professional poker player from Las Vegas, NV.  He enjoyed a fabulous breakthrough year at the WSOP, earning two gold bracelet victories, three final table appearances (1st, 1st, and 3rd), and six cashes.  He combined earnings currently total $1,233,987 – not counting his Main Event cash.

Ironically, Kassela earned a new poker nickname at this year's WSOP, which is “Lights Out.”  During the middle of Kassela’s Razz win, he was languishing in fourth place with four players remaining.  A sudden power failure at the Rio caused the lights to go out temporarily inside the tournament room.  Due to the interruption, play stopped and the final table was moved to a better lit area.  The unforeseen break allowed Kassela to refocus and he later won the tournament.  No one will ever know if the lights going out at the Rio marked the difference between Kassela winning the tournament and eventual Player of the Year honors, versus coming in second or third.  But “Lights Out” does seem the fitting nickname for the man who had this honor all but locked up more than a week ago.

Congratulations to Frank “Lights Out” Kassela – the official 2010 WSOP Player of the Year.  

WSOP Player of the Year is determined by a points system which can be reviewed,  click here.

For complete standings of all players who earned points in the WSOP Player of the Year race, click here.

Former WSOP Players of the Year include:

2004 – Daniel Negreanu
2005 – Allen Cunningham
2006 – Jeff Madsen
2007 – Tom Schneider
2008 – Erick Lindgren
2009 – Jeffrey Lisandro
2010 – Frank Kassela

MORE ON 2010 “PLAYER OF THE YEAR” – FRANK KASSELA

Kassela is 42-years-old.  He was born in Chicago, IL.  His family relocated and he grew up in the Dallas suburb of Mesquite.

At age 25, Kassela moved to Memphis, TN -- were he started a successful business.

Kassela is the owner of Mid-American Specialties, which sells promotional and specialty products, primarily to government offices.  His company has one office in Dallas and three offices in Memphis.

Kassela says he sleeps very little.  He usually gets about three to four hours of sleep per night.

Kassela began playing poker seriously about 10 years ago.

Kassela moved to Las Vegas recently so he could concentrate more on poker playing.  He could be classified either as a pro or semi-pro, depending on the time of year.  Kassela is playing poker full-time now; however, during other months he spends much of his time concentrating on his business.

Kassela’s favorite poker game is Pot-Limit Omaha.  He is trying to start up a regular mid-to-high stakes Pot-Limit game at various Las Vegas casinos.  Since he has not been successful, he often plays PLO with $2-5 blinds, which is the largest game found on a regular basis.

Kassela has already accumulated more than $1.8 million in career tournament winnings. He has 37 major cashes.  His only tournament victory prior to two wins at this year’s WSOP was in a Pot-Limit tournament at the 2009 LA Poker Classic.

Kassela’s first tournament cash was at the 2003 Jack Binion World Poker Open.

Kassela collected $214,085 for first place in the $1,500 buy-in Razz championship, for which he was presented his second WSOP gold bracelet.  Kassela won his first gold bracelet in the $10,000 buy-in Seven-Card Stud High-Low Split championship which paid $447,446.  Kassela also came in third in the $25,000 buy-in Six-Handed No-Limit Hold’em championship.

According to official records, Kassela now has two wins, four final table appearances, and 12 cashes at the WSOP.  His career WSOP earnings now total $1,420,660.
 

 
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Nolan Dalla – WSOP.com Senior Writer


About the author: Nolan Dalla's work is found all over WSOP.com, as he is the Senior Writer for poker's longest-running poker series and has contributed to the site since 2005.

He is also the longtime Media Director of the World Series of Poker. He's become the lone link from poker's modern age back to the old days when the WSOP was played at Binion's Horseshoe – where Dalla served as the casino's Director of Public Relations.
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