NEWS FLASH:    Frank Kassela Wins WSOP Gold Bracelet in Event 40

Lights Out!  Second Win This Year for Kassela


When the first of three long days in this year’s Razz championship ended, short of being bounced out of the tournament, Frank Kassela was in the worst possible situation.  He ranked in 105th place.  Make that 105th place -- out of 105 players.  Dead last.  Surviving on bread crumbs.  One hand away from down to the felt.  One hand away from a doddering walk out to the hallway joining the parade of dispirited souls burdened with broken dreams.  One hand away from the twisted solace of self-pity, tacked onto the endless procession of those whose best talent lies in reciting bad beat stories.

Frank Kassela had no shot to win.  None whatsoever. 

Two days later, Kassela was beaming at the final table at the 2010 World Series of Poker, with mountains of chips piled up in front, with flashbulbs popping high above, answering a question that would have been unthinkable 48-hours earlier.

The question was – how did he do it?  How did he manage to comeback from being dead last?  How did this mild-mannered semi-pro poker player and businessman make it all the way to the final table and overcome a huge chip disparity?  How did he end up with every single chip in the tournament and win his second WSOP gold bracelet victory within eight days?

Well, for one – Kassela won a critical hand early on Day Two and managed to double up.  Within the first two hours, he was in 74th place out of 81 survivors.  It was a nice comeback, but that's something like reaching Pahrump, NV on a cross-country trip from LA to NYC.  Indeed, Kassela still had a long way to go.

Kassela fought and scratched and continued to move up in the chip standings.  Meanwhile, one by one, players busted.  Once the money was reached, Kassela had about an average-sized stack.  He was emotionally freerolling, fortunate he knew just to be in-the-money.  It was like the town hobo stumbling over a bottle of unopened Thunderbird -- temporary bliss, but still not much of a future.  Over the next several hours, Kassela went from tournament hobo to bona fide contender.  He was able to move into a comfortable chip position, and eventually arrived at the final table as a formidable force.

That was just the start of it.  Unfortunately, things did not go well for Kassela during the first seven hours of what turned out to be a grueling ten-hour finale.  He was dead last again in chips when play stood at four handed.  In fact, he was all-in and down to the felt again.

Then, something happened.  Call it divine providence.  Call it a miracle.  Call it some idiot at the local electric company tripping over the wrong switch on the electrical grid.

The entire building went dark.

The lights went out.

While four tournaments were being played simultaneously and the Rio's Amazon Room was filled with approximately 1,500 people – while the final table of the Razz championship was being played and the action was down to four people -- the room fell into total darkness.  A power outage temporarily hit the Rio (and much of Las Vegas).  The lights remained out for about 20 seconds before emergency generators were engaged and began to provide limited power and lighting.  The mood was surreal for the next several minutes, as play throughout the Rio was suspended until full power and lighting were restored.  

Once the lights came back partially, the final table remained in a shadowy state.  So, the action shifted to the ESPN Main Stage, which was amply supplied with plenty of light.  Chips were moved.  Spectators shuffled their way towards new seats.  Players collectively transferred to seats at a new final table.  It was just the break that Frank Kassela desperately needed.  The break, certainly accidental and beyond anyone’s control, allowed Kassela to gather his thoughts, refocus is attention, and take a new seat at another final table with a fresh attitude and renewed sense of optimism.

Two hours later, it was all over.  The lights were back on in full.  Sitting in the spotlight was none other than Frank Kassela, the champion.  Kassela became the first multiple gold bracelet winner of 2010.  

Kassela collected $214,084 in prize money.  He earned gold bracelet number two.  But what will undoubtedly be most memorable about this long night was not just the prize money he won or the satisfaction of victory.  What shall be remembered most was how Frank Kassela won the most unlikely of victories – how he rose from the ash heap of being dead last in chips and how he rechanneled his energy when fate provided him the opportunity.

The two-time champion now has a new nickname.  Call him Frank “Lights Out” Kassela.

In other tournament news:

The top 40 finishers collected prize money.  Former WSOP gold bracelet finishers who cashed in this event included – Frank Kasella (1st), Jennifer Harman (5th), Chris Bjorin (8th), Artie Cobb (10th), Linda Johnson (16th), Dario Minieri (19th), David Chiu (20th), Joe Hachem (22nd), Hasan Habib (23rd), Daniel Negreanu (29th), and Greg Raymer (37th).

With his eighth-place finish in this event, Chris Bjorin cashed for the fifth time this year and 55th time in his career.  Bjorin now ranks seventh on the all-time WSOP cashes list, in a tie with Humberto Brenes.  Bjorin also has 22 WSOP final table appearances, which ranks 15th all-time.

With his 20th-place finish, David Chiu cashed for the 46th time.  He currently ranks 14th on the all-time list.

With his 29th-place finish, Daniel Negreanu now has 47 career cashes.  This currently ranks in a 12th-place tie with “Miami” John Cernuto on the all-time cashes list.

2005 WSOP Champion Joe Hachem finished 22nd.  This was his first time to cash this year.

2004 WSOP Champion Greg “Fossilman” Raymer finished 37th.

A full report of this event will be posted shortly.

For official tournament results and additional details, please CLICK HERE.