2009 WSOP: France, Korea, England, Vegas
"Where is ElkY from?"
That was just one of the questions bouncing all over media row tonight as reporters began building out their dossiers on Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier. The scramble began just after 10:30pm when ElkY got paid off on a flopped set and became the first player in the 2009 WSOP to cross the 1 million mark in chips.
The answer the the big question is not as easy to divine. ElkY, of course, is French, having lived most of his early life in Nancy, a small city in the northwest corner of the country. Then, at age 20, he moved to Korea where he thrived as a pro gamer. But then it was on to London, England, the city he now calls his home.
Though good for trivia, ElkY's present home is probably largely irrelevant to the story tonight. Your drivers license address notwithstanding, when you leave Day 3 of the WSOP as the almost certain chip leader with around 1.4 million, you're from Las Vegas, Nevada, home of the World Series of Poker.
More than 2,000 players started Day 3 on Friday afternoon. When ten hours of poker had passed, only 800 remained. By this time tomorrow, anyone remaining will be in the money.
Still alive and fighting for the money is a very respectable number of people flying the PokerStars flag. We've already mentioned the high-flying ElkY, but there are many more, including Team PokerStars Pro Joe Hachem who spent the day on the featured table. He struggled through most of the day, but managed a key double up after the dinner break to put him at 190,000 at day's end.
Two of the biggest names from last year's final table are threatening another deep run. 2008 World Series of Poker champion Peter Eastgate is still alive on a 340,000 stack. Third place finisher Dennis Phillips is also not giving up easy and finished today with around 580,000.
Another Phillips is proving he's as much a poker player as an actor. Lou Diamond Phillips powered through yet another day of poker to finish with 330,000, good for not only a Day 4 berth, but the honor of the last PokerStars celebrity standing. He achieved that distinction after L.A. Lake Jordan Farmar and actor Jason Alexander were eliminated.
Alexander's defeat was particularly nasty. Starting with more than 200,000 in his stack, Alexander bet 25,000 into a 3-4-6 flop and snap-called an all-in from Christian Heich. Alexander held pocket jacks. Heich showed 6-5. The turn was a nine, but the river fell as a six and Alexander's run was through.
"It's a cruel game. but i'm happy with my play here," he said. "It's my third consecutive year and this is the deepest I've gone. I got halfway through Day 2 last year, so it's getting better."
Other survivors going into Day 4 include J.C. Alvarado (122,000), Thierry van den Berg (220,000), Noah Boeken (190,000), Hevad Khan (260,000), Maria Mayrinck (130,000), Ben Kang (30,000), James Akenhead (800,000), Peter Kremenliev (630,000), and a host of other PokerStars qualifiers. Check in tomorrow morning for a full accounting of the field.
Everyone will come back tomorrow and try to catch the man from France, Korea, England, and Las Vegas.
With ElkY's passport being a matter of such attention tonight, we're making a special point to produce coverage in languages that we can only understand if we read through Google's translation service. If you want to check some truly inspiring coverage from our Swedes, Germans, Spanish and Dutch, hit any of those links. When your exotic side is sated, come on back here and tell us what it was like. Or, check out any of our coverage links below. Also, don't forget to check out all of the video blogs from PokerStars.tv.
We'll be back for the Day 4 noon start. We hope you'll join us as the players hit the money.
A round with Peter Eastgate
Just like old times
A round with ElkY and Ivey
No spirit horse in sight as Phillips continues his charge
Here we go a-Wasieling
So good, they named them twice
All photos © Joe Giron/IMPDI Worldwide