griffin benger check your privilege

Griffin Benger: From E-Sports Guru to Poker Champion & “Check Your Privilege”

If you’ve heard of Griffin “Flush_Entity” Benger, chances are it was because of his “check your privilege” rant against Will Kassouf during the 2016 WSOP Main Event.

Born in Toronto, Canada, the 32-year-old Benger is a former Canadian e-athlete who participated in e-sports—essentially, organized multiplayer video game competitions between professional players.

Benger’s game—er, ‘sport’—of choice was Counter-Strike, a tactical shooter game which he played as Griffin “shaGuar” Benger for the NoA team. In 2007, Benger won the Championship Gaming Series in Counter-Strike which paid a hefty $50,000. All together, Benger’s e-sports earnings total nearly $100,000.

Griffin Benger at the poker table

Benger began playing poker online in December, 2006. It makes sense that an e-athlete would take kindly to online poker. He was active on most major poker sites, including Full Tilt Poker, PokerStars, PartyPoker, and 888poker, and was quite successful with tournament winnings in excess of $6.5 million. In fact, for several weeks Benger was among the winningest tournament players, according to PocketFives.

Benger soon entered the world of live poker, competing in tournaments around the world. His first major tournament cash was in May 2011, at the Venetian’s $1,070 No Limit Hold’Em (NHLE) Deep Stack Extravaganza III. Benger finished second there, and was the only non-American in the top 12.

2013 proved to be a particularly profitable year for Benger. He won a £1,000 Turbo on 13 March, 2013 in London at the UK and Irish Poker Tour (UKIPT), taking home the grand prize of just over $50,000, as well as the £10,000 NHLE High-Roller at EPT Berlin where he won over $562,000.

Most recently, Benger played three WSOP 2017 events: two $1,500 NLHE events and the $3,000 NLHE event, where he placed 162nd, 248th, and 87th, respectively.

Despite winning no WSOP bracelets, WPT or EPT championships, Benger has (so far) amassed a very respectable $4 million in live tournament winnings thanks to cashes in seventeen WSOP tournaments, two WPT Main Events, and three EPT Main Events.

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PokerStars Shark Cage success

Benger’s biggest win was during the inaugural season of PokerStars’ Shark Cage, where he took top honors and a cool $1 million.

The show’s premise is interesting, to say the least. Among its special features are a 30-second time limit and a no-deals disclaimer regarding the $1 million prize. There’s also a “don’t get bluffed” feature, where a player who unsuccessfully bluffs or gets bluffed is sent to the shark cage to miss an orbit while the opposing player gets bonus chips. (It would be more interesting if the shark cage was submerged in a tank with actual sharks. Yet I digress.)

Benger won the fifth of eight heats to qualify for a seat at the final table alongside Kara Scott, Bill Perkins, Ole Schemion, Philippe Gruissem, Vicki Coren-Mitchell, rugby champ Mike Tindall, and Gareth Coles in this winner-take-all tournament. Eventually it all came down to heads-up play between Benger and Tindall.

If you have an extra couple hours, take a look at season one’s final table (part 1 here, part 2 here). Or at least watch the final 15 minutes, which are crazy.

Oh, and he also final tables the WSOP Main Event, finishing in 7th for $1.25 million.

The 4 Hands of Benger

Aside from his Shark Cage appearance and the now-famous “Check your privilege” hand (#1 below), there isn’t much live footage of Benger playing poker. But here are four hands with very different approaches from Benger, and four very different outcomes.

4. Griffin Benger versus Anthony Ruberto

This is an interesting hand from the 2014 WSOP Main Event, in which Benger eventually finished 90th and took home $72,369. And, in case you’re wondering, Ruberto finished in 68th place. In-depth commentary is provided by the Poker Guys, Grant Denison and Jonathan Levy. (Note: Upswing does not endorse the analysis in this video.)

3. Benger versus Fatima Moreira De Melo

The stars had to align for Benger to dominate in the Shark Tank. Take a look at this incredible hand from his first heat. It shows that one does need a certain degree of luck to succeed at poker.

2. Benger versus Piotr Marzejon

Then again, luck is called luck for a reason, as this hand from the 2016 Unibet Malta Open Main Event demonstrates. Ultimately, Benger was eliminated in eighth place and won a nifty £8,550 (slightly over $10,000.)

1. Benger versus Will Kassouf

Of course, what would a Benger piece be without highlighting the epic confrontation between Griffin Benger and Will Kassouf in the 2016 WSOP Main Event?

Normally quiet and friendly, Kassouf’s incessant chatter understandably raised Benger’s ire. Kassouf was eliminated in 17th place, and Benger went on to take seventh place for a hefty $1.25 million. The phrase “Check your privilege” will echo through WSOP history.

Side note: have you noticed that Benger gets pocket aces (and wins with them) when it matters most? My last pocket aces were cracked by a rivered flush.

At any rate, this e-athlete turned online poker pro turned live poker champion is an interesting guy and definitely a great poker player. I’m sure we will see more of him in the future.

Until next time!

Note: Want to play poker like the pros? Join the 151,389 people that have upgraded their poker skills with our Preflop Charts – for FREE. Get them now!
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Natalie Faulk is a Las Vegas-based freelance writer and blogger and the author of several books. She is an avid low-stakes (for now) poker player and huge Vegas Golden Knights fan.

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