Top Pro Puts His Stamp of Approval on 2020 World Series of Poker

Allen ‘Chainsaw’ Kessler has been chopping down the competition on the poker circuit for years now. He has amassed more than $4 million in tournament earnings, and according to the Global Poker Index, ranks 10th all-time in cashes’ with close to 400 worldwide. At the game’s marquis event, the World Series of Poker, Kessler has reached the money stage, or ‘cashed,’ more than 80 times and has reached multiple final tables. Certainly, one of the world’s best poker players. This year, he is all about the WSOP.

Allen Kessler WSOP

For more information on Allen Kessler, check out part 1 of this article. 

2020 WSOP

The World Series of Poker is the biggest show on Earth when it comes to cards. Set to run from May 26 to July 15, recreational and expert players alike will be converging on the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino for a solid two-months of gripping action. Fame, fortune and poker glory are up for grabs. The bracelets too. By all accounts, Kessler seems pleased with the various formats and structures, but he admits there is always room for improvement.

“I think the WSOP has dropped the ball on some smaller buy-in mixed games. Some $600 PLO events have been added to the schedule but I think they should have done something similar for HORSE or Omaha Eight or Better. Players in those disciplines are not being represented and have to go places like the Venetian, Planet Hollywood or the Golden Nugget, if they want to play a lower buy-in mixed event. There’s no such thing at the Rio.”

Always continuing on with the fight for better structures, Kessler plans on speaking with Jack Effel about the issue next week but appreciates it’s “likely too late” for any minor tinkering to the schedule at this point.

World Series of Poker 2020 WSOP

Freeze-Out = Hot Commodity

The WSOP has made a number of positive changes to its schedule this year. It’s modified many of the $1,000 No-Limit Hold’em events, transforming them back from re-entry tournaments to freeze-outs, where players are allowed one buy-in and one buy-in only. In re-entry events, elite professionals have a huge edge over novice players because they are not afraid to continuously risk their chips, in the hopes of accumulating a large chip stack. If they lose, no problem, they can just buy-in again and reload. The average player cannot afford to do that.

“I think it’s great for poker. It’s very beneficial to recreational players because it puts them on the same page as high rollers like Daniel Negreanu and Shaun Deeb, who have the means and wherewithal to buy a stack. Essentially, they can go ‘all-in’ every hand until they accumulate chips. They don’t care about the money and will just re-enter over and over again. They’re just trying to buy a chip stack. You can’t do that anymore. They, like you, only get one shot in these tournaments.”

Kessler believes the WSOP is keen on listening to the players and has moved to make the schedule more attractive to amateurs.

“They fixed some structures, you’re getting more chips, more play, and there are more freeze-outs and lower buy-ins for the recreational-types. I think the WSOP is going to see a lot of people, who were playing at the Wynn, the Venetian or Planet Hollywood, come back to the Rio this year.”

Do You Want a Piece of the Action?

Can’t afford the WSOP? Too far to travel? Well, you can still be part of the fun by taking advantage of sites like YouStake and Stake Kings. These are two of the more reputable players staking companies, which provide fans of the game a simple and enjoyable way to become part of the action. Yes, you can invest in your favorite player this summer. For a slight mark-up fee, remuneration for the player’s time, effort and skill, you can purchase a piece of the action. If your chosen pro wins, so do you.

Kessler offers up his action at Stake Kings, which boasts the world’s largest sports crowd-staking marketplace. Its sponsored pros have more than $250 million in lifetime earnings. The company’s website homepage prominently features a picture of poker legend Antonio ‘The Magician’ Esfandiari, who famously won the Big One for One Drop in 2012, and the richest prize in poker history — $18,346,673.

“Stake Kings has a very rigid requirement on the players it accepts. It will only accept high-profile players and you have to provide copies of all tournament receipts. It’s a very popular and reputable site. Since I am well-known in the poker community, it’s highly publicized when I am playing an event, how many chips I have or when I bust out. My hands get reported and when I get knocked out, I usually take a picture of my bust-out hand and post it on social media. I like to show the people who have invested money in me exactly how the hand played out and how I was eliminated. It gives the fans a good sweat.”

Marijuana & Other Drugs at the WSOP?

Can you smell that waft of smoke near the exits at the Rio? More than likely it’s marijuana. Pot has been legal in Nevada for the past few years now, but Kessler is adamantly opposed to its use during poker tournaments, especially when it comes to the world’s richest and most prestigious event.

“If you’re playing for millions of dollars at the World Series of Poker, your first priority should not be marijuana and how fast you can get to your car at the break to smoke weed or vape or whatever. You can smell the marijuana on them when they return. I don’t care how well you play; I think if you have something in your system, you’re not performing at 100 per cent.”

More prevalent than ever in high-stakes poker, marijuana is becoming commonplace at big events like the WSOP. Kessler is not oblivious to the trend and is quick to tell anyone who will listen that its buyer beware. He cites a recent example during an Omaha event in Florida, where the chip leader returned from a break in play with narcotics in his system, and it led to his eventual demise.

Marijuana and poker chips WSOP

“They had taken some kind of mushroom and could barely even read his cards. He was barely coherent. The guy basically had all the chips in play, hundreds of thousands in chips, and he didn’t even bag any for the night because he lost them all. It was ridiculous. It was mind boggling. We were playing for $50,000 for first place in a $200,000 prize pool, and he was incoherent for the last four hours of the tournament, until he busted.”

Kessler will be a busy man this summer. He plans on playing at least one tournament every single day of the World Series. That’s a lot of poker and a lot of high-stakes pressure. He’s ready for it though.

“I’ll be playing for 68 or 69 straight days, sometimes arriving at the Rio for 11 a.m, other times for 3 p.m., but there’s always an event for me to play. I won’t be playing anywhere else this summer. My attention will be on the World Series only.”

Serious about his craft and with his eyes on the prize, the Chainsaw is gunning for gold this summer.

Derrick Oliver

Derrick Oliver

Derrick Oliver Dewan is the founder of High Roller Radio and has interviewed a number of the world's top poker players and gamblers. A former radio and television broadcaster, Derrick was brand manager for Poker Pro Canada magazine and has written for a variety of publications, including the Toronto Star & Windsor Life.

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