PokerStars Festival Rozvadov: So sick...a catch up with ElkY
When I sat down to chat with Team Pro Bertrand 'ElkY' Grospellier, I wondered what most fans would be wondering just before talking to the man: How many times will he utter the words "so sick" during our conversation?
It's become somewhat of a catch-phrase for the Frenchman who can be heard saying it for all manner of reasons over his Twitch stream - from coolers and bad-beats, to how many viewers have tuned in or even what girlfriend Jenny has cooked up for dinner. It's used to indicate the good, the bad, and almost everything in between.
I predicted approximately seven "so sicks" in the 10 minutes I'd have with him, but to my disappointment he only uttered the phrase once. It was however, used appropriately from the off (and positively I might add) - to describe the King's Casino here in Rozvadov.
"Every-time I've been to King's I've had a great time. All the staff are welcoming and super friendly - I like the whole vibe. They really take care of the players and the poker is always good. It's always great when you can find somewhere with good action, beautiful food and beautiful women..."
Here it comes...
"I love life here..."
ElkY is in good spirits, despite a not so great start to the week which saw him bust early from the King's High Roller. But he tells me he's playing the PokerStars Festival Main Event later on today, "which I'm obviously hoping to win" he half-jokes.
But a win here wouldn't come as a surprise - after all ElkY has years of tournament poker under his belt which all started with his win at the Main Event of the PCA back in 2008, where he took home the trophy and a cool $2 million.
Back here in the Czech Republic though, ElkY tells me it's not his first time here in Rozvadov - in fact he's become a regular over the last few months after a move to Prague in April last year.
"I had a few places in mind for where I wanted to live, but Prague came out on top," he tells me, "It's always been a favourite stop of mine on EPTs over the years. And now that I'm here, I don't regret my choice. I love life here - it's a beautiful city, everyone's friendly. It's not too big or too crowded."
It also helps that he's good friends with King's Casino owner and super-high roller Leon Tsoukernik.
"I met Leon last December. I'm so glad I can call him a friend - he's a great guy who loves the game. The project he's building here is awesome - it's the biggest poker room in Europe and people come from all over the world to play here. I've been here four or five times since the New Year, which I also spent here - I just love it."
Having been on the live circuit for nearly a decade, ElkY acknowledges that his gaming lifestyle is sometimes not the healthiest. It's influenced his decision to take his health seriously again.
"In January, I decided to set the goal of running a marathon before the end of the year. I wanted to set a solid goal, not just a 'go to the gym more' type thing. So I'm running the Vienna half marathon as a warmup this month, with the aim of doing the full thing towards the second half of the year."
Does he have a time in mind? "No way - I just want to complete it!" he laughs. "If I could get under four hours that'd be great, but it's more important to just finish. Who knows, if I like it then I might get more ambitious."
Bringing the conversation back to the felt, I ask ElkY what his poker plans are for the rest of the year - and it isn't a surprise to hear there's lots of live poker and Twitch streaming in store.
"My schedule is super busy over the next few months. I'm going to the PokerStars Championship in Macau at the end of the month followed by [the Championships] in Monaco and Sochi. Online I'm building up for SCOOP, where I'll be doing a whole Twitch season and hoping to stream almost every day. I'm really excited about it. I'll also be vlogging to capture it all over the next few months."
And what about poker goals?
"It's difficult to set poker goals because I see it as a game of variance. It's more about the discipline I want to have in making sure I play well in the events I attend. The rest isn't up to me."
As I reach the end of writing, a disappointed looking ElkY passes the media table. I see him slightly nodding his head after what I assume was some kind of bad beat...
And we all know what he's thinking, don't we?