PokerStars 10th Anniversary review: ElkY, one name says it all

10th-ann-thumb.JPGThe advent of online poker has done a lot for the cult of personality. These days, just about any kid who makes a splash online can walk into a room and be known only by his screen name. One man, however, did not culture his image in online poker. He didn't build his online moniker up from obscurity to celebrity. No, when his Frenchman stepped across the invisible line into the poker realm, he brought he name "ElkY" with it and began creating a legend that would soon become a vital part of PokerStars ten-year history.

Born in 1981 as Bertrand Grospellier, the man who would eventually be known as ElkY fell right into the digital generation. He would know no analog world. By the time he was 20 years old, he had so deeply immersed himself in the Starcraft gamers' world that he was winning world championships. He moved to Korea where he became the equivalent of a rock star. He was known by one name, and there were fewer greater heroes in the game.


ElkY, posing as the Joker on the Asia Pacific Poker Tour

Though profitable and a pedestal on which he could sit for as long as he wanted, the gamer life lacked something for ElkY. He needed something more. He'd been turned on to online poker. It was digital. It had the potential to make him millions. It was a place where he could be a rock star. Just as ElkY was discovering poker, PokerStars was discovering ElkY. Before long, the one-time Starcraft champion was popping up at 2005 EPT events and becoming a legend for non-stop playing online. The following year would change everything.

In 2006, PokerStars introduced the VIP Club, and within a few weeks, ElkY became the first Supernova. That summer, ElkY signed on with Team Pro and set the stage for what in five short years would become the stuff of poker lore.

By 2007, PokerStars had discovered its Supernova level ceiling was too low for its top players. It created the Supernova Elite status level in January. In less than four months, ElkY became the first person to reach the 1 million VIP Player Points required for entry into poker's most exclusive club.


ElkY, circa 2007

On year later, in 2008, ElkY--trim and fit after winning a weight loss bet--headed to Paradise Island for the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure. By then, the PCA had become an event on the European Poker Tour, one of three points on poker's Triple Crown. He wasn't far removed from taking second place in an EPT event.

"When you get second, people forget about you really quickly," he said at the time. "I was devastated."

ElkY made sure it wouldn't happen again. He wanted that big tournament victory to seal his place among the greats. And so he won. Two million bucks and a place in poker history.

"If there was one tournament other than the World Series main event that was the most important," he said, "this was it."


That same year, ElkY won a WPT title to check another box on the road to the Triple Crown. In the meantime, as he continued his hunt for the elusive WCOP bracelet and his fitting for the Crown, ElkY began to find new ways to make himself a legend of the game.

In 2009, ElkY traveled to the EPT Grand FInal in Monte Carlo where he took on the challenge of playing the most Sit and Go tournaments in an hour with a positive return on his investment. He did it, playing 62 of them in an hour with an ROI of 6%.


That, however, wasn't enough. ElkY wasn't content to be a one-time champion or sideshow attraction. He wanted more bling. So, in 2009, he won not one, but two World Championship of Online Poker bracelets. He won the first in a $530 NLHE rebuy event, then won another in a $215 NLHE tourney.

That seemed to leave only one thing left undone for ElkY. He had achieved an EPT title. He had won a WPT title, grabbed two WCOOP bracelets, and earned a Guinness World Record. What was left? Indeed, a WSOP bracelet. That came this year, 2011, when he won a WSOP Seven Card Stud title, $330,000, and his place among poker's Triple Crown winners.


ElkY on the way to winning his WSOP bracelet

In all, ElkY has won more than $8.5 million in live tournaments since 2005. Add that to the untold amount of cash he's won online, and it's fairly clear just how important ElkY has become in the game. Though he's only been on Team PokerStars for five years, he is firmly-cemented ElkY in PokerStars ten-year legacy.

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We are publishing these daily review articles throughout November as PokerStars gears up to celebrate its 10th Anniversary.

Previous reviews:

Going live at the PCA
It's a bling thing
Online wizards cast their spell
The EPT circus
Sporting greats
Making world champions
Party treats

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in News