The Heads-up Masters, FPS Cannes, and Ronan's bad beat
Recently, I was one of 64 players invited to take part in a special tournament on PokerStars.Fr called "Heads-up Masters." It was a €1,000, rake-free, bracket tournament and the field included SCOOP and FCOOP champions, top cash game players, Team Pros like ElkY, Gabriel Nassif and myself, as well as the 25 or 30 of the remaining best players in France. Each round was a best of three series of heads-up matches with the winner taking home a pretty amazing prize: €25,000 and an EPT Deauville seat.
I went up against a well-known player in the first round and ended up winning 2-0. Then in the round of 32 I drew an online qualifier, but he turned out to be a very good player and I lost 2-1. Once I was eliminated, I was able to turn my attention to doing commentary on the remaining matches for PokerStars Live. It's really fun to commentate on a tournament like this because so many matches are happening at once and there's never a dull moment. People love the heads-up format, especially as spectators and hopefully we'll get to play some more of these.
After the Heads-up Masters, I travelled to Cannes for the France Poker Series. On my way there, I went to visit one of the dozens of PokerStars-affiliated clubs. These clubs aren't like the Aviation Club in Paris but small amateur poker leagues that are very popular in France. No real money changes hands in these leagues. They only play freerolls that award points and small prizes. However, these players are even more passionate about playing than most pros. Some of them play every day and each weekend they run a two-day event. I really enjoy these visits, but no matter how many I do, I'll never get used to people asking for my autograph like I'm some sort of movie star. It doesn't make any sense to me!
The FPS Cannes ended up being one of the largest PokerStars tournaments ever held in France. The main event drew 559 players when a typical crowd is between 300 and 400. Unfortunately, I busted on Day 1 of the main and Day 2 of the High Roller, so once again, I was freed up to do some commentary. The winner of the most recent season of La Maison du Bluff, the reality TV show I host, made the final table so that made it especially exciting. However, the most unforgettable moment of this tournament involved one of the Friends of PokerStars.Fr, a TV star named Ronan Monfort. With 11 players left, he was all-in with aces against A♠K♠ for the chip lead. The flop came Q♠J♠[X] and the river was the T♠ to make his opponent a royal flush! Everyone went nuts when that last card fell and it was pretty difficult for some of us to watch because Ronan is a good friend. You know that look on a boxer's face just as he's knocked out? That's the expression Ronan wore. He had this empty stare and kept walking around the table afterwards, unable to leave because he still hadn't completely processed what just happened.
As pros, we take bad beats all the time. After enough of them, they tend to run together in your memory, but this is one that will stick with me for a long time.
Julien Brecard is a member of Team PokerStars Pro.