PCA 2012: The January Man


Among the field today, amid row after row of PokerStars hoodies, sports team clothing and beach shoes, is a player as identifiable for his name as for his appearance.

When Bertrand "ElkY Grospellier first took a seat at a poker table he did so as a professional gamer, a celebrity in Korea where his StarCraft exploits had him mobbed every time he went out in public. At the poker table he was one of many newcomers best described as "some guy," trying to unravel poker's mysteries. Some try, most fail. ElkY would soon conquer.

Since those early forays the Frenchman has amassed some $8,646,605 in prize money. But a closer look at that record will give his opponents pause for thought this week. As far as Grospellier is concerned, January his prime hunting ground.

Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier

Cast your eye through his record and January leaps out as the Team PokerStars Pros' most productive month.

It started in January 2007 when, a year after becoming the first SuperNova VIP just 12 days after PokerStars opened the doors of the VIP Club, ElkY ran a close second at EPT Copenhagen, earning $399,953. It was an early score in his career but a significant turning point. Anyone watching will remember the hair-pulling howl of despair Grospellier unleashed as he let a first EPT title slip away. He was not long putting the record straight.

A year later Grospellier arrived at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure to put that right, famously winning the PCA Main Event worth $2,000,000. A year later he came back and did the same in the High Roller, worth $433,500, before finishing third in the EPT Deauville High Roller a few days later, good for another $101,839.

In 2010 Grospellier narrowly missed another EPT final table, finishing ninth in Deauville for $72,905, and last year he recorded cash finishes in the main event here and in France. If there's such a thing as peak form, be it controlled by the moon, the sun or random chance, this is it. In the past six Januarys Grospellier has amassed $3,048,613 in prize money, more than 35 per cent of his total career winnings.

Grospellier has just arrived in the tournament room, 45 minutes after the start, wearing aviator glasses, a white t-shirt and what looks like a padded Barbour waistcoat. He immediately caught to attention of a camera team who ditched what they were doing to follow him, inadvertently being given the slip as Grospellier searched one way and then the other for his seat. That'll be on Table 33 alongside Allen Kessler and Juan Manuel Pastor.

Are all these early season results just coincidence? We'll let the players at his table decide.