This is by no means Frank Kassela’s first rodeo.
The 2010 World Series of Poker Player of the Year has made five final tables prior to this one, including two bracelet wins in 2010.
So even though he’s now just a recreational player spending most his time concentrating on business and family, it’s no surprise to see him in the final six of the $1,500 Six-Handed Dealer's Choice event. Even if it is the first time this mixed-game has been spread at the WSOP.
PokerNews caught up with Kassela at the break just before the final table began to talk about how the event has gone so far, how he’s come to master some 16 variants of poker and what his plan is going forward.
PokerNews: You’re obviously no stranger to final tables at the WSOP, does it ever get old, or is it still exciting?
It's always exciting. You're guaranteed money and you're playing for a bracelet, it's hard to beat that.
PokerNews: This is a new event on the schedule this year. What do you think so far?
I think that this particular tournament structure should be the way we play the $50k (Poker Players Championship). We're dealing with not just your ability to react and play in 16 different games of poker, but on top of that being able to identify weaknesses in the players you're playing against, picking the appropriate games to give you an advantage in that way also.
If you're looking to try and find out what really makes somebody World Champions, this is the kind of format you need.
PokerNews: Any issues with the dealers considering all these different games being spread?
They've done a great job. Even some of the dealers at the beginning who were bit behind the curve were patient and willing to listen. That's a big thing. When a dealer gets out there and they're having a tough time and they aren't willing to accept help that makes it bad, but we've had nothing but great dealers.
PokerNews: How about the players? What’s been your strategy in terms of game selection so far?
Most of the tables I've been at have had a preponderance of people who are behind the curve at Badacey and Baducey, so those are games I've been picking 90 per cent of the time.
PokerNews: Is your plan to keep picking those games here in the final six?
Dan (Idema) and Robert (Mizrachi), I know have as deep experience playing Badacey and Baducey as I do. Marco (Johnson) did as well and he's gone now.
We have a couple of players I think are playing the draw games bad, so there's a potential edge. I know one of the players is playing Stud 8 bad, so these are the kind of things you've got to identify and exploit.
PokerNews: How do you become an experienced player in these games? Are you playing a lot of these variants on the cash game tables throughout the rest of the year?
I don't really play poker outside of the World Series of Poker anymore. I'm more of just a recreational player these days.
The cash games at Aria, for about two and a half years, back when Tommy Fischer was alive, were good. He liked to play every day at noon. It fit my normal world schedule dealing with my businesses during the day and my kid at night.
Once Tommy passed the game itself kind of dried up and some different things happened over at Aria, so I've probably played less than ten cash sessions this year and basically no tournaments. The only poker I play is at the World Series.
PokerNews: So what do you attribute your success to in this event?
I'm just good. I'm playing good and I'm running good. Really, there are just not a lot of people that are well versed at this variety of games.
When we came back this morning we had Jennifer (Harman) and Marco (Johnson) and me. Three people who would regularly be in the high-stakes cash game at Aria. You could have predicted that when we started with some 450 people that out of the last ten we were going to have four or five people who are Aria and Bellagio mixed game players. And Robert (Mizrachi) sometimes is in that crowd. It depends on where he lives because he moves around a lot. This final table was relatively predictable.
PokerNews: Looking at where you’re at right now, what’s your plan for the final six?
Let the tournament come to me and don't make mistakes.