ElkY, hero of the Caribbean
Team PokerStars Pro Bertrand 'ElkY' Grospellier is a PCA legend, winning the Main Event in 2008 and returning one year later to win the High Roller title. In this exclusive interview, the French superstar reveals just what it is about Atlantis that is so special...
When you think of the PCA, the player that immediately comes to mind is Bertrand 'ElkY' Grospellier. The French poker and gaming superstar has won two outright titles and $2,480,480 in total winnings at the Atlantis Resort - and did it all with the style that has made him one of the most popular players in the world.
ElkY will be back at the PCA in 2016 broadcasting on his hugely successful Twitch channel and, most importantly, going for a third title at the venue which made him famous. Can he do it again? The Frenchman certainly isn't lacking in confidence...
PCA: Can you describe what the PCA is like for players who have never been there before?
ELKY: The PCA is a very unique poker tournament, for many reasons. It's the stop with the most PokerStars qualifiers so you will feel like you know or have played with most of the field already online! It also feels more like a poker summer camp because of the location, and the Atlantis is filled with so many poker players at the same time. The PCA is one of the best places to play poker in the world, and in 2016 it will have the biggest schedule in EPT history too.
PCA: Does the PCA sometimes feel more like a holiday than a serious poker tournament?
ELKY: Yes for sure, especially with the weather in January, and the whole resort concept. All of the EPT stops are in wonderful cities but the players are usually a bit more spread out, whereas at the PCA we are all together most of the time.
PCA: Does that mean that the parties at the PCA are the best too?
ELKY: Yeah, I have fond memories of the PokerStars parties at the PCA, and not just the ones when I won! There is usually a huge farewell party outside which is awesome. I can remember Kelly Rowland performing at one of the parties.
PCA: Two of your biggest live victories have happened at the PCA. Is there something about Atlantis that brings out your best game? Or is it just a coincidence?
ELKY: It's hard to say of course. I think in most cases it's a combination of both, but I definitely feel very confident at Atlantis, even though it might just be the placebo effect. It always feels great returning there.
Ready to sign up for PokerStars? Click here to get an account.
PCA: Back in 2008 (when ElkY won the PCA Main Event for $2M) you were mainly known for becoming the first ever Supernova Elite on PokerStars. But was winning a major live tournament one of your key goals? Or were you much more focused on online poker?
ELKY: I was already very focused on live tournaments, as I came so close to a major win one year earlier at EPT Copenhagen when I finished runner-up. Winning a live tourney really became one of my main goals when I got the chance to be a Team PokerStars Pro in 2006. Winning the PCA after that was truly the most magical feeling of them all!
PCA: The Main Event field at the PCA is one of the biggest of the year. What's the key to beating a field of thousands?
ELKY: Being prepared is definitely very important, both mentally and physically. You have to bring your 'A' game, but of course running well is also part of the equation.
PCA: You were known for being hyper-aggressive in 2008. Could you get away with a lot more then than you can today?
ELKY: Yes, definitely. I think it's partly that people knew less of me back then, but when you think back to 2008 the game of poker has changed so much. Overall gameplay and metagame were very, very different. In fact, I reviewed the final table that I won in 2008 just last year and I couldn't believe what we were all doing in some spots!
PCA: Can you give any examples?
ELKY: There were barely any squeeze plays in 2008 so a lot of pots ended up being played multi-way. In one hand David 'The Dragon' Pham opened, and he got two callers. One of those was Kristopher Kuykendall, who just called with A-Q in the big blind. With the table dynamic it's a 100% three-bet nowadays because David Pham opened a lot of hands!
PCA: Does the extra aggression in today's poker make it much tougher to win?
ELKY: I think so, not necessarily because the dynamic and metagame has changed, but because most of the players are much more experienced.
PCA: Would you say the 2008 PCA Main Event win is the highlight of your career so far?
ELKY: It's always difficult to say but the 2008 PCA is what started it all for me, so for sure!
PCA: After the Main Event win you came back the next year to win the Super High Roller for over $500,000. Was it more prestigious to win the Main Event or to win the High Roller versus a smaller, more skilled field?
ELKY: I think the Main Event was definitely more important because of the sheer size of the field, and how prestigious an EPT Main Event is. Of course, it means a lot to win the High Roller as well!
PCA: Away from the tables, what would you recommend players do while at the PCA?
ELKY: I think my favourite restaurant is Dune at the Ocean Club. As for activities, the water slides are very fun but I think it depends on what you usually like to do. There are so many things to do at the PCA - from swimming in the ocean to walking on the beach or even swimming with dolphins. I love to do that, it's a unique experience.