It’s season three and a year on from Mads Andersen’s late night exhilaration in Season 2, Copenhagen was about to ink another memorable final table into the history books.
The main event that year had it all; from a man named Mycock (he was huge), cashing and rendering the giggling media impotent at the same time; and a marching band that appeared mid-tournament, lining the lobby staircase to welcome guests to a function next to the casino – a full on display of brass that no one could quite believe was happening (attempts to find a picture of this have sadly proved fruitless).
But it was at the final table where the event really came to life, a finale featuring the still developing talent that was Bertrand “ElkY Grospellier, who looked like a dead cert to win his first major title.
The story of ElkY was still relatively unknown back in 2006. A former professional gamer (who knew such a thing existed in 2006?), ElkY (who knew such a name existed in 2006?), made the switch from Starcraft in South Korea to online poker around the world with aplomb, but had yet to score a first big live cash.
Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier, circa Season 2
It’s for that reason that Copenhagen takes on such significance, the coming out party for a man who in the years from then to now would add peroxide and $8.6 million in prize money to his name.
If the story of ElkY was the main draw that year, Theo Jorgensen and Richard Toth provided a useful sub plot. Their duelling threw up one of the most memorable televised hands on the EPT.
Jorgensen had already found aces twice while Toth was reeling from a hand gone wrong against ElkY. Now Jorgensen found aces for a third time and moved in. Toth, in the hand with queen-nine of hearts, tanked for a while, asking for a count as a packed poker room looked on…
“Theo, I think I have to trust in my instinct,” said Toth standing. “It says you’ve got nothing.” Toth then called for the shock of his life.
The flop looked harmless enough, coming 10♣4♥7♦ but the turn, as described by commentator Lee Jones, was the best Toth could have hoped for, the J♥ giving Toth outs to the flush and straight. The river brought the 10♥, sending Jorgensen reeling, and to the rail in fourth.
With Jorgensen gone ElkY, more Serpico in those days than cyborg, saw to it that Toth’s ride would end in third place, leaving him a significant advantage over the relatively unknown Magnus Petersen.
Petersen was lining up to be the fall guy to ElkY; the man in the simple trunks against the WWE wrestler with all his marketing; the extra dressed in red, beamed down unarmed to a hostile planet with Spock and Captain Kirk.
Unfortunately for ElkY, Petersen refused to play stooge and instead beamed past ElkY, the Frenchman clawing at his hair as he made the loose call that cost him the lead. Agonised, and never fully able to recover, ElkY capitulated, leaving new champion Petersen literally dancing for joy.
Magnus Petersson dances with joy, ElkY, dejected, is in the background
It was a career changing defeat but ElkY, like all truly talented players of sport and games, was able to turn it in to the motivation required to ensure 12 months later he would be holding aloft the PCA trophy.
Copenhagen final tables are never dull.