George Qiao has become the 2021 WSOP Main Event’s William Kassouf.
Kassouf became briefly famous in 2016 for being entertaining to watch and a nightmare to play with. His relentless, repetitive, and almost universally irrititating table talk was precisely the kind of shenanigans the WSOP cameras love.
Qiao’s offense was rather quieter. Literally.
On Day 2CEF, Qiao went into the tank on a simple turn decision for nine minutes. While that’s not unheard of at the WSOP, he did so while on the featured table live stream while sat at a featured table with Erik Lindgren and Barry Greenstein.
Kevin Martin tweeted as the live stream aired. “This gentleman just tanked on the WSOP feature table for…NINE MINUTES!” Martin wrote. “I’ve never seen a turn tank like that!”
What made the tank so entertaining and/or egregious was the banality of the decision being pondered.
Qiao was playing 84,000 while his opponent had him comfortably covered. He had the 8♠8♦.
The flop read 6♥Q♠3♣. With 34,800 in the pot, the dealer turned over the 4♦ on the turn. Qiao’s opponent bet 18,000 and the clock began to tick.
No all-in, no fancy play. A simple 2/3 pot bet on a draw heavy board with an overcard.
The clock continued to tick.
For nine minutes Ali Nejad and Nick Schulman in the commentary box fought against dead air.
Then, finally, with a sigh Qiao let his hand go. His opponent raked in the pot and didn’t have to show his pocket aces to the table. George Qiao just became a name at this year’s series.
Less tanking, more talking
Jeff Platt pulled Qiao away from the table to interview him. He asked Qiao about his tanking and got the reply that he is “just a beginner. I need to think.”
“But you also tell me you’ve been playing since 2007,” is Platt’s reply.
“I had to stop for ten years,” Qiao explained, telling Platt that his wife won’t let him play. He points to a lady in the audience who is filming him on her phone. “That’s my wife over there,” Qiao says.
The interview is at least as amusing as the footage of the tank.
“The cross-examinations in Making a Murderer weren’t as pressing as @jeffplatt turning the screws on the King of Tanks,” Remko Rinkema wrote of the video.
The story does at least have a happy ending. Today Platt caught up with Qiao, still wearing the lucky red-checked shirt he had on the day before.
“No more tanking by George, I am so proud,” Platt wrote when he Tweeted the video of the second interview.
Platt asks him what Johnny Chan thought of Qiao’s performance. Chan is Qiao’s coach and a two-time Main Event winner himself. According to Qiao, Chan didn’t mention it.
But when Platt asks the table, they confirm, Qiao’s been staying out of the tank. Though he has been talking a fair amount.
“Get him to shut up,” yells one of his tablemates in response to Platt’s questions. Perhaps he really is this year’s Kassouf.