ElkY’s Got a Gold Bracelet
Bertrand Grospellier Wins First WSOP Title
European Poker Pro Collects $331,639
Bertrand Grospellier Becomes Third French WSOP Champion in History
A Full House at the 2011 WSOP -- Tournament Attendance Still up Double-Digits over Last Year
21 Gold Bracelets Won – 37 More Still Up For Grabs
If Lady Gaga has a poker twin it’s most certainly Bertrand Grospellier.
Outrageously flamboyant, gifted beyond compare, and famous on multiple continents, the international maven gamesman is one of those rare individuals in our midst who commands attention without even trying. He changes a room by his very presence inside it. Maybe it’s the hair. Maybe it’s his towering stature. Maybe it’s his rock-star lifestyle.
Or maybe still – perhaps it’s his natural talent.
Grospellier, better-known for his anomalous moniker, “ElkY” (that’s not typo – the Y is capitalized) is one of the few poker players in the world who commands the ability to be and become his own “brand.” Exceptional star athletes have this capacity. A few poker players have also been able to capitalize on their fame as well. But very few in this game were famous before they played poker. Fewer still transitioned into a sort of duel daily double of celebrity in the manner Grospellier has succeeded.
Grospellier, who is from France but now resides in London, is the perfectly-packaged global poker superstar who up until the early morning of June 15th had accomplished just about everything in the poker world except one thing: He had never won a World Series of Poker gold bracelet.
In fact, his WSOP results up to this night had been a preposterous serious of letdowns. First, there was the fact that all he could muster for five arduous years was one relatively inadequate final table finish -- a pedestrian ninth-place showing in 2007. Then, there was his epic meltdown in the 2008 WSOP Main Event Championship, when he enjoyed a chip lead following three long days, then dissolved into dust once the money payout was reached, finishing in 370th place. A few critics began to whisper that the 6' 2" multilingual Frenchman with peroxide-frosted hair was all show, and no go.
Grospellier won far more than just a poker tournament tonight. He even won more than a gold bracelet. He erased countless memories of personal and professional disappointment in the world's most prestigious poker series. Indeed, no one would dare suggest Grospellier wasn’t a monumental success story both within poker and -- prior to that -- as one of the top-ranked cyber-gamesmen in the world. But if winning the WSOP gold bracelet means “validation” for an average poker player, it meant a sort of predestined coronation for Grospellier.
Indeed, up until his moment, Grospellier had earned more than $7 million in live poker tournaments on four different continents -- all in just eight years. He’d won multiple European Poker Tour titles and owned a World Poker Tour victory. In the poker world, however, his prior victories were the equivalent of going into a fancy steakhouse and being served a vegetarian meal. The juicy porterhouse of this game is a WSOP gold bracelet.
Finally, Grospellier’s voracious appetite was satisfied with all the trimmings. It was a meal served the right temperature -- well done. With his victory in the $10,000 buy-in Seven-Card Stud World Championship, he not only won what had been an elusive title, he managed to triumph in an event comprised almost exclusively of fellow professionals and peers with a globally-respected designation.
Confirming his dexterity as a master gamesman, Grospellier revealed afterward that he had never previously played in a Seven-Card Stud tournament before. He was able to outlast players who for the most part had been playing the game most of their lives. Anyone know what the French word for "amazing” is?
The triumph netted Grospellier a nice paycheck amounting to $331,639. But everyone who watched the Frenchman high-fiving dozens of fellow countrymen and - women in the gallery of spectators (packed inside the Rio at 2 a.m.) could recognize immediately that his satisfaction had little to do with money.
For a comprehensive recap of Event #21, please visit WSOP.com HERE.
EVENT #21 CHAMPION – BERTRAND “ELKY” GROSPELLIER
The 2011 World Series of Poker $10,000 buy-in Seven-Card Stud World Champion is Bertrand Grospellier, from Paris, France.
Grospellier is a 32-year-old professional poker player and pro gamer.
Although Grospellier wishes to be identified as a Frenchman, he resides in London when he’s not traveling and playing on the international tournament circuit.
Grospellier was born in Melun, France.
Grospellier is well known for his online name, which is “ElkY.” Note the “Y” is capitalized.
Grospellier moved to South Korea as a teenager in order to play and compete in various cyber games, most notably Starcraft. He became a professional gamesman and was a major celebrity among the younger culture in South Korea. He still holds several performance records in various cyber games.
Grospellier finished second in the 2001 World Cyber Games – which is somewhat equivalent to what the WSOP is to poker.
Grospellier started playing poker with friends about 10 years ago.
This was the eighth consecutive year Grospellier has attended the WSOP in Las Vegas. His best previous finish was a ninth-place showing in 2009.
For this victory in this tournament, Grospellier collected $331,639 for first place.
According to official records, Grospellier now has 1 win, 2 final table appearances, and 14 in-the-money finishes at the WSOP.
Grospellier currently has $612,457 in career WSOP winnings.
Grospellier was the chip leader at one point during the 2008 WSOP Main Event. He ended up cashing in 370th place.
Grospellier is to be regarded as a professional poker player, since he has been playing full-time for the past six years.
Grospellier becomes only the third player in history from France to win a WSOP gold bracelet. The two previous winners were Patrick Bruel and David Benyamine.
WINNER QUOTES (Note: The winner was interviewed at tableside moments after the victory)
Where does this victory rank compared to your other accomplishments?
It is definitely right up there. One of the first World Series of Poker tournaments I played was back in 2005. I played in so many WSOP events and I never really came very close to a bracelet. My closest time was in 2007 when I made it to a final table. So, I have been waiting for this moment for like four or five years. I am really, really proud, especially because I got this in Stud. It was the first time I played Stud in a live (tournament). So, it’s really an amazing feeling.”
How do you explain winning an event you have never played before?
“I have really good memory for the cards. Some of my friends helped with the strategy, too. I tried to catch on quickly. But the first day, I made a lot of mistakes. And even earlier tonight there was a big hand where I acted out of turn because I was not sure of the rules. But I caught on quickly and in a way all these card games are similar. It was the first time I played Deuce-to-Seven, and I got 11th. Of course, I had a lack of experience, but sometimes that served me well because I was playing really aggressively. I got my opponents to fold in some spots where they are not supposed to fold. So, it kind of worked out for me because sometimes (my opponents) had no idea how I was going to play.”
Do you prefer playing at the WSOP or in Europe, and why?
I love to play at the World Series of Poker. It’s the world championship and the fields are much bigger. It’s like a big poker festival. Plus, you can play all these different games that you cannot play in Europe. We can play Deuce-to-Seven and Stud, and it’s kind of a change. It’s enjoyable because it’s new to me. It’s also more fun to play in bigger fields. I just love to play in the United States, and especially the World Series of Poker.
THE FINAL TABLE
The official final table was comprised of the top eight finishers.
The final table contained only one former gold bracelet winner – Johnny “World” Hennigan,
Three nations were represented at the final table – France (1 player), Russia (1 player), and the United States (6 players).
In the heads-up battle between Grospellier and Steve Landfish, Grospellier overcame a massive chip disadvantage. He started off as the chip leader when play began at two-handed. But two hours into the match, Grospellier was down approximately 15-to-1 in chips. In fact, he had only enough chips to post a few big bets, which means if he lost one hand, he would have been eliminated. Grospellier was all-in once and won the hand. He battled back, regained the chip lead, and won the tournament.
The runner up was Steve Landfish, from St. Albans, VT. He received a nice consolation prize amounting to $204,924.
Final table play began at 5 p.m. on Tuesday evening. Play ended at 2 a.m. the next morning. The finale went for about nine hours, nearly half of which was played heads-up.
The final table was played on ESPN’s Main Stage. The new final table set is getting raves in terms of design and appearance. No stage in the history of poker has ever looked as spectacular.
Action was streamed live over WSOP.com. Viewers can tune in and watch most of this year’s final tables. Although hole cards are not shown, viewers can follow an overhead camera as well as a pan-shot of the table. The floor announcer provides an official account of the action.
OTHER IN-THE-MONEY FINISHERS
The top 16 finishers collected prize money.
An interesting dynamic: Seven-Card Stud is widely considered to be an East Coast (U.S.) game. For many years, most of the top players in Stud lived in the Northeast or had roots in that region of the country. It was interesting that a disproportionate number of East Coasters cashed in this tournament – indisputably the toughest Stud field of the year anywhere in the world. Half of the 16 finalists were from the Northeast -- including Steve Landfish (from Vermont), Johnny Hennigan (originally from Philadelphia), Chad Brown (originally from New York), Nick Schulman (from New York), Sorel Mizzi (from Toronto, which is close), Christopher George (from New York), Matt Glantz (from Philadelphia), and Matt Hawrilenko (from Boston). Jason Mercier also cashed, and he’s from Florida.
Among the former gold bracelet winners who cashed in this tournament were – Johnny Hennigan (4th), Nick Schulman (9th), Men “the Master” Nguyen (10th), Ville Wahlbeck (13th), Jason Mercier (14th), and Matthew Hawrilenko (16th).
Not only does Johnny “World” Hennigan own two gold bracelets, he also won the 2009 “Ante Up For Africa” charity event that was played at the WSOP that year. Hennigan donated all of his prize money to the charity that year.
Men “the Master” Nguyen’s 10th place finish gives him 71 career WSOP cashes. This currently ranks second on the all-time cashes list, nine behind career leader Phil Hellmuth. Nguyen won this same event last year and was the second defending champion at this year’s WSOP to come back and make a top-10 finish. The other player to do so was David Baker (No-Limit Deuce-to-Seven Draw Lowball).
Tournament results are to be included in the WSOP official records. Results are also to be included in the 2011 WSOP “Player of the Year” race.
“WSOP Player of the Year” standings can be found at WSOP.com HERE. With his victory, Grospellier moved into 4th place in the current standings.
ODDS AND ENDS
This is the 913th gold bracelet awarded in World Series of Poker history. This figure includes every official WSOP event ever played, including tournaments during the early years when there were no actual gold bracelets awarded. It also includes the 16 gold bracelets awarded to date at WSOP Europe (2007-2010). Moreover for the first time ever, one gold bracelet was awarded for this year’s winner of the WSOP Circuit National Championship.
The official WSOP gold bracelet ceremony takes place on the day following the winner’s victory (or some hours later when the tournament ends very late). The ceremony takes place inside The Pavilion, which is the expansive main tournament room hosting all noon starts this year. The ceremony begins at the conclusion of the first break of the noon tournament. The ceremony usually starts around 2:20 pm. The national anthem of the winner’s nation is played. The entire presentation is open to the public and media. Video and photography is permitted by both the public and members of the media.
Grospellier’s gold bracelet ceremony is set to take place on Wednesday, June 15th. The national anthem of France will be played in honor of his victory.
The tournament was played over three consecutive days, which extended into a fourth day (overnight).
The tournament officially began on Sunday, June 12th at 5 pm. The tournament officially ended on Wednesday, June 14, at 2 am.
2011 WSOP STATISTICS
Through the conclusion of Event #21, the 2011 WSOP has attracted 22,507 entries. $39,380,110 in prize money has been awarded to winners, so far.
Through the conclusion of this tournament, the breakdown of nationality of gold bracelet winners has been:
United States (15)
Great Britain (3)
Through the conclusion of this tournament, the national origin (birthplace) of winners has been:
United States (11)
Great Britain (3)
Through the conclusion of this event, the home-states of (American) winners have been:
New York (2)
New Jersey (1)
Through the conclusion of this tournament, the breakdown of professional poker players to semi-pros and amateurs who won gold bracelets has been:
Professional Players (17): Jake Cody, Cheech Barbaro, Eugene Katchalov, Allen Bari, Harrison Wilder, Matt Perrins, Sean Getzwiller, Viacheslav Zhukov, David Diaz, Andrew Badecker, Tyler Bonkowski, Brian Rast, John Juanda, Aaron Steury, Darren Woods, Jason Somerville, Bertrand Grospellier
Semi-Pros (2): Sean R. Drake, Amir Lehavot
Amateurs (2): Geffrey Klein, Foster Hays
Through the conclusion of this tournament, the victories of six of the 21 winners (29 percent) represented the first time the new champion had ever cashed at the WSOP.
Every WSOP held over the past 11 years has included at least one multiple gold bracelet champion (meaning two or more wins within the same year). The last year the WSOP was comprised exclusively of single-event winners was back in 1999. The record for most multiple gold bracelet winners within a single year was in 2009, when five players managed to win two or more titles. So far, no player has yet won two gold bracelets (this year).
The streak of male WSOP gold bracelet winners has now reached 182 consecutive events. Aside from the annual Ladies Championship, the last female player to win a WSOP tournament open to both sexes was Vanessa Selbst, in 2008. The longest “cold” streak for female players occurred between years 1982 and 1996, when 221 consecutive open events passed without a female champion.
The highest finishes by any female (open events) at this year’s WSOP were by two players -- Maria Ho, who finished second ($5,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em), and Kim Nguyen, who also finished as the runner up ($1,500 buy-in Six-Handed Limit Hold’em).
NEW RECORDS SET AT THIS YEAR’S WSOP (to date):
Biggest Heads-Up tournament prize pool in history ($3,040,000) – Event #2
Largest live Omaha High-Low Split Tournament in history (925 entries) – Event #3
Largest live Six-Handed tournament in poker history (1,920 entries) – Event #10
Biggest Deuce-to-Seven tournament prize pool in history ($1,184,400) – Event #16
Largest live $1,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament in history with single starting day (3,157 entries) – Event #18
Largest consecutive-days starting field sizes in poker history (combined 6,238 entries) – Event #18 and Event #20