EPT11 Deauville: The hectic life of Julien Brecard
The last section of Julien Brecard's commute this morning, at the start of Day 2 at EPT Deauville, was all of 20 metres. Yet it wasn't certain he would complete it on time.
Brecard had to navigate his way from the lobby outside the tournament room to his seat at table 30, and had allowed himself about three minutes for the trip. But as he tried to advance through the room, and as the tournament clock clicked down to the start of play, he was stopped at near enough every step. He had to greet no fewer than nine different people along the way, exchanging double high fives in the French fashion, kissing at least eight cheeks and shaking a couple of hands for good measure.
Julien Brecard is very, very popular in this part of the world.
"Honestly, I think I've done everything in poker in France," Brecard says, when we caught up with the Team PokerStars Pro during the first break in play. "I'm really proud to say that I was one of the guys in charge of promoting poker in France because I started playing when it was only beginning. That's why now I'm a little bit famous, more for what I've done for poker than my results. But it's always nice because everyone is nice with me."
After Brecard's first exposure to poker, back in the early online days of 2004, he knew almost immediately that he had found the world he wanted to inhabit. He considered getting a job as a dealer just to be close to the game and ended up working as a commentator and tournament reporter, while keeping his hand in as a player too.
"Right at the beginning, when I entered the poker industry, I wanted to be part of the life," he says. "I wanted to be on the EPT, I wanted to be on the WSOP, so I started to do coverage. And then, because I used to look at all the stages of a tournament, the first time that I sat down at a big, big tournament -- it was the World Series of Poker -- I was really, really at ease."
As poker began to take off in France, Brecard started working for some of the big online companies, managing teams of sponsored players and their liaison with the media. He joined Team PokerStars Pro in 2010, by which point he was already well known presence in the commentary booths of television and online poker shows - renowned for solid analysis but conspicuously lacking unnecessary criticisms or snark.
"I tried never to be rude or mean with the players," he says. "I think we have a nice community in France and I'm very proud to be part of it."
He is now the among the regular French commentators on EPT Live, and has also been involved in the production of the poker reality show La Maison du Bluff since its inception, first as a commentator and then as a coach. Brecard says that the main purpose of the show is to demonstrate how accessible poker can be, so keeps his commentary light-hearted rather than acerbic.
"We know they are not world champions," he says of the players who compete in La Maison du Bluff. "Everybody can play like they play, so we try to say that to people who are watching the game...The objective is really to bring new players to the game, who don't know anything about poker. We try to connect them with some skills that they may have. If you can calculate mentally very quickly, then you have good skills to be a good poker player. If you have good psychology, then you can be a good poker player. So we try to do a lot of exercises with the players to see if they are clever, smart."
Brecard's manifold commitments means he almost never has a day off from poker, and matters have got even more hectic in the household over the past couple of years with the arrival of Eden, his daughter. Now 2-and-a-half, Eden is already a huge poker fan and is her father's biggest supporter, of course.
"She is watching me on the stream," Brecard says. "She knows nothing about poker, of course, but she knows that we are playing with two cards, with chips, so she asked me: 'Daddy, bring me back some red chips from Deauville.' During the FPS, on the stream, I won a hand and busted a short stack and then the presenter said, 'You won the hand,' and my mother told me that my daughter was on the sofa, saying: 'Yee ha! My father is a champion.'"
Eden was a little premature with this coronation; Brecard finished out of the money in the FPS this week. But he has a stack of more than 50,000 in the Main Event at time of writing and so has another crack at some money here. And if he busts, he is due into the commentary booth for the rest of the week.
"I never have a day off, but I think I have one of the best jobs in the world, so I cannot complain about not having any days off," he says. "I don't see myself as working. For me I'm not working, I'm just hanging around with friends. So that's cool."
Coverage from the Main Event of EPT Deauville is on the Main Event page. Check out all the action from around the festival on the main festival page. Also follow the action on EPT Live and stay up to date with the sensational EPT app for iPhone, iPad or Android.