The 2010 WSOP Player of the Year Earns Third Bracelet
June 8, 2017 (Las Vegas, NV) - Frank Kassela considers himself a recreations poker player, but he plays and acts like a pro.
In 2010, Kassela won his first two bracelets en route to a World Series Player of the Year award. Seven years later, he added a third bracelet to the collection in the $1,500 No-Limit 2-7 Single Draw event. Kassela defeated a field of 266 players to win $89,151.
His first reaction after winning his third piece of WSOP jewelry wasn't a celebration. There was barely any reaction at all. He just wanted to get in the next available high stakes tournament.
"Let's go hop in that $10K," said Kassela to his rail, referencing the $10,000 Dealers Choice event taking place in a neighboring room.
He was anxious to get in the mix for his fourth career bracelet, but he acknowledged how great of an achievement number three is, especially after all the close calls he had over the years.
"It feels great," said Kassela. "Nothing feels better than winning a World Series of Poker bracelet when you're a poker player. You know, especially for me. I've gotten really close in No-Limit Hold'em and I don't remember what the other shit was, but to get a non-stud bracelet is nice."
Kassela doesn't rely on poker for his primary source of income. The Chicago native and Las Vegas resident runs several different businesses that keep him from traveling the globe playing tournaments. The responsibilities that keep him away from the table only makes it sweeter for him when he conquers the games best.
And even though the event was only a $1,500 buy-in with 266 players, Kassela still had to go through a bunch of top pros to claim the title.
"Obviously, I know it's tougher to compete against the world class guys," said Kassela. "So, any time you can come in here and beat up on them, it's pretty good. It's not an easy field to fade when you're playing. Look at when you got down to 14 players last night, I think three of us were former players of the year. It's just not an easy field getting down here and getting through this."
He doesn't consider himself a professional, but Kassela does hold his poker game in high regard. He spends a good chunk of his free time playing high-stakes mixed games in 'Bobby's Room' with the best in the world.
"Generally speaking, when it comes down to being a recreational player, I consider myself one of the best recreational players in the world," said Kassela. "I don't know what I could do if I hopped on that train and played all year long, but I'm sure I would have a lot more tournament success than just showing up here six weeks every summer."
Coming into the final day, there were six players still in the hunt for the title. The final table was reached late on Wednesday afternoon, but three-time bracelet winner Benny Glaser fell in seventh place, leaving the final six returning on Thursday.
It was Bernard Lee who held the chip lead, but Kassela shot up the counts fairly early in the day. He eliminated Stuart Rutter in sixth place and Jared Bleznick in fifth place, leaving the table four-handed.
As the table continued to get shorter, Kassela felt that his experience in the high-stakes cash games would give him an edge over the rest of the field.
"When we play the 16-game mix, it's usually one of them," said Kassela about his no-limit 2-7 experience. "Any time you get over, like, an eight-game mix, it's usually in there. So, when it came down like three or four people there at the end, I would imagine that I had more live no-limit deuce experience than the rest of them put together, I would think."
Kassela was neck-and-neck with Lee at the top of the chip counts during four-handed play before Matt Waxman was eliminated in fourth place by Tim McGuigan. McGuigan, Lee and Kassela played three-handed for several hours before McGuigan hit the rail in third, leaving Lee and Kassela heads-up for the title.
Lee held a significant chip advantage, but Kassela chipped away and eventually evened out the counts. The heads-up match was grueling and lasted for another several hours. During this long match, Shaun Deeb made his way over to the final table and started to give Kassela some advice.
"Shaun just wanted me to keep my head in the game and not get frustrated," said Kassela. "He wasn't giving me any specific insight or anything. Anytime you are at a final table, people are going to make mistakes. They are going to get a little bit too hasty with their decision-making process and you can't allow bad hands to mess up your head."
Kassela took Deeb's advice and never seemed to lose his composure at the table. He outlasted Lee and sent him home with a runner-up finish when he drew one drawing to a nine against Lee's pat jack low. Kassela made his nine and denied Lee his first WSOP bracelet.
This isn't even close to the biggest first place prize that Kassela earned, but he feels there is something about a no-limit 2-7 bracelet that everybody wants.
"I think that for most people that play poker, especially at the World Series, there is nothing better than winning a no-limit deuce tournament," said Kassela. "I mean, it's just so, I don't know why. Like, the $10,000 no-limit 2-7 event, everybody wants to win that just as much as the Main Event or the $50K. And the prizepool ain't shit. It's just the fact that you won a No-Limit 2-7 tournament. They are not that easy to win."
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Final Table Results:
1st: Frank Kassela - $89,151
2nd: Bernard Lee - $55,086
3rd: Tim McGuigan - $37,032
4th: Matt Waxman - $25,451
5th: Jared Bleznick - $17,890
6th: Stuart Rutter - $12,868
7th: Benny Glaser - $9,477