PCA 2014: Streaky ElkY talks tendencies, Christmas trees and Negreanu's streak
ElkY, aka Team PokerStars Pro Bertrand Grospellier, is a bit of a PCA legend. Back in 2008, ElkY was one of the first really big PokerStars winners when he won $2,000,000 in a giant treasure chest. Sure, he'd had a runner-up spot the year before at EPT Copenhagen for the equivalent of $400,000, but here at Atlantis was where the mercurial Frenchman stamped his claim as one of the greatest tournament players in the world (and 'to run like ElkY' became a thing),
That year was the first of four seven-figure years for ElkY (2008, 2009, 2011, 2012). Last year, by ElkY's standards at least, was a little quieter with 'just' $427,925 recorded cashes.
"There was part which was variance, for sure, and I definitely ran bad in crucial spots, which didn't help, but there might have also been some times where I didn't play the best. The reason that poker is so streaky is that when you run bad you can lose some confidence and make more mistakes or not make the move because you've been running so bad lately that you feel like want to make less moves. It's a vicious circle. There's some of that and sometimes I might have been less focussed on some tournaments. It's a little bit of an accumulation of everything," said ElkY.
Although the year didn't exactly start perfectly - he was first out of the $100,000 Super High Roller - ElkY is focussed coming into 2014.
"It's kind of good to set yourself goals, but in poker it's really hard. Daniel (Negreanu) is an amazing player but he also got a tonne of luck. You have to run good to achieve your goal. I want to win a second EPT, for sure. It's what I want the most, but it's very tough. That's definitely my goal. It's good to remind yourself on a daily basis of what you're aiming to. Maybe do better than last year, that shouldn't be so hard!" he said.
Total live winnings: $10,771,840
All-time money list position: 18th
France all-time money list position: 1st
Triple Crown holder: EPT, WSOP and WPT titles
ElkY first came to prominence online when he was among the first multi-table wizards, born out of a career playing video games for living. He was the prototype button clicker and still understands how important it is to keep up with online trends.
"I play a lot during the SCOOP and WCOOP so it's perfect timing that five weeks out of the year I grind online every day. It's really good because you can try out a lot of new stuff. A lot of the new moves that come out usually come out of the online game. I guess online is usually tougher for the same amount of buy-in. It's important to keep up," he said.
"Bet-sizing has been going smaller and smaller. It's crazy. So people have been min-raising for a few years, but now even the three-bet sizing is super small and even min three-betting. That's probably one of the biggest tendencies (changes) from before.
"The thinking behind that is that it reduces the variance and also if you three-bet to isolate someone from the button then it's really, really tough for the blinds. They can't flat call that much because they're out of position the whole time, and the initial raiser might four-bet it. You get the pot heads-up 90% of the time no matter what the three-bet size is because they're only going to four-bet with hands worth four-betting," said Elky.
Strangely enough it was a similar situation that saw ElkY be the first player sent for an early shower in the $100,000 Super High Roller.
"It was a really sick spot because it was the last hand before the break. Daniel Colman opened from the cut-off and (Justin) Bonomo three-bet the button. I four-bet jacks from the small blind. He (Bonomo) five-bets pretty small and I flat.
"The flop came queen-high with two hearts, so we check. The turn comes ace offsuit and I check-call quarter pot-size. I knew he'd take a stab with a lot of hands and I don't think he'll bet ace-king... There's no value or protection really because definitely I'm not calling the five-bet with ace-jack or any ace or any queen. He's not even winning, so there's a lot of air in his range and he'd take a stab at it a lot. I call. The river was a jack and, heh, I check and he shoves. It's pretty tough. He has three queens. That river sucked because I had 160,000 left. That was a pretty unfortunate card," said ElkY.
Thankfully unfortunate cards don't always cost $100,000, but ElkY's pedigree means that it's surely just a matter of time until the blonde bombshell is back on a big final table. He took fourth in the GuangDong Asia Millions Warm-Up for $166,038 in June 2013. Maybe
"I switched it up. For Christmas I really did family stuff and went to my mum's place for a week. I don't get to spend too much time with my family because I travel around the world so much. My cousin and all her family came up so it was really nice with about 15 of us. We celebrate it on the 24th in the evening and exchange gifts and put them under the Christmas tree. Everyone opens them up and eats Christmas dinner. It's really nice. Drink lots of wine and champagne. For New Year I flew to New York to meet up with my girlfriend and partied there for a few days before the Bahamas."
It doesn't sound like a bad life. ElkY plays Day 1B of the Main Event. Chances of him running up a decent stack? Good. Chances of him being the first double EPT/PCA winner? You shouldn't bet against it. After all, the guy does run like ElkY.
Rick Dacey is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog.