Frank Kassela is arguably among the best amateur players in the world; he’s the only amateur to win World Series of Poker Player of the Year, he consistently plays in the big games in Vegas and won his third career WSOP bracelet a couple months ago. Kassela locked up a seat for the $50,000 winner-take-all Sit & Go on Poker After Dark for Tuesday night’s “Rumble with Jungle” on PokerGO.
Kassela faces off against Daniel “Jungleman” Cates, Brian Rast, Jason Koon, Doug Polk and Isaac Haxton when the cards hit the air at 8 pm ET live from the ARIA Resort and Casino.
Kassela was a big fan of PAD and is excited to get a chance to play. “I loved Poker After Dark,” he said. “It was the best show put together for TV in my opinion. The concept Mori [Eskandani] was going with duplicated the look and feel of the high stakes games we played in Bobby’s Room.”
“The banter, the lineups and the overall production of the show made it the most enjoyable poker program on TV,” he added.
While Kassela did not appear on the original PAD episodes, everyone he played with did. “I’ve been playing with the old guard for almost 20 years so any [classic] lineup would have been great [to play against],” he said. “But my favorites were Doyle (Brunson), Eli (Elezra), (Phil) Hellmuth and Jenn (Harman).”
“No Limit Hold’em always felt like my weakest game, especially back during PAD’s first run,” said Kassela. “I realized that no matter how much I might like playing Mixed Games, the real action is going to be in No Limit Hold’em – especially on televised shows.”
Frank Kassela is only amateur player to win WSOP POY. (Photo: PokerPhotoArchive.com)
“I realized I needed to improve my NLH game and stick my neck out there on some shows like this,” he added. “Then again, you had Gavin (Smith) on back then so I wouldn’t have been the soft seat.”
Kassela’s business interests keep him from playing poker full-time, but a full poker schedule might not be too far off in the future for him. “I have a lot of responsibilities in life that make it impossible for me to play a pro poker player’s schedule,” he said. “Maybe someday I can retire and take it easy by playing the Circuit for a few years.”
He’s looking forward to playing against lineup of young players. “Doug Polk is one of my favorite people to have at the table, so this will be fun,” Kassela said. “He and I both really like the sound of our own voices – he and I will keep the conversation lively.”
“The bottom line is – I love poker – and I love being able to compete with and sometimes beat the very best players in the world,” said Kassela. “Most successful poker players long to get to the point, after they win some big money, where they have some successful business or real estate investments on the side. I just did it in reverse order.”