PokerUpdate.com contributor Robbie Strazynski caught up with PokerStars Pro Bertrand “Elky” Grospellier at the 2016 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in the Bahamas and talked about a wide variety of topics, including plans to win the PCA Main Event, his love of eSports, and what he’d take to a desert island
And be sure to stick with PokerUpdate here and on Twitter @PokerUpdate to get all the updates at the 2016 PCA!
Hi everybody, this is Robbie Strazynski for PokerUpdate.com here at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (‘PCA’) 2016. We’re sitting here with Elky! How are you doing man?
Hey, Robbie! How are you?
Good! Nice to see you, man!
Nice to meet you.
Welcome, nice to meet you too!
We never met, right?
We have never met before. This is very exciting.
What is on your agenda this year for the PCA? Tell us, what are your plans? What are your goals? What’s your schedule?
Well my plan is definitely to win the PCA Main Event.
Most of the times it doesn’t go according to what I wish. In poker it’s great to have plans and goals, but you have to be very flexible because there is a lot of variance in poker and you have to be aware of that. So you have to set yourself goals, but you have to be willing to reconsider. Just play your best.
Shift gears, right?
Yeah, shift gears. I really rested a lot these last two weeks, so I’m feeling great. I have a lot of good memories here.
Very good! Like you said, you’ve traveled a lot these past few years and you visited a lot of different poker venues. What is special about the PCA? I imagine this is probably one of your favorite destinations, right?
Yes, definitely! I mean for me the PCA is special because it kickstarted my poker career. It was my first big live poker tournament win back in 2008 when I won the Main Event. So it’s even more special for me. Overall what I think is great is definitely the location. It’s feels like a resort and it feels more like a vacation than any other poker stop.
I hear you loud and clear. Have you had a chance to go to the pool yet?
Not yet, no.
You’ll get a chance in this glorious Bahamas weather. You mentioned that 2008 was your breakout year. Do you still think about that often? When you come back here I imagine that you have that memory of winning it. What was it like?
For sure, for sure, I still think about it and I still see the replay video and it’s always very special because I was working hard for that first victory. It’s the time that started everything because it gave me the confidence to go on a big run and everything. It’s the dream of every poker player – to win a huge live tournament. Maybe back then I didn’t appreciate it as much, but it’s definitely something amazing and I really hope I can repeat it again.
Cool, I hope so too! Good luck!
Well, you recently joined Team Liquid, right? For Hearthstone.
Very excited about Hearthstone! You used to be a professional gamer in South Korea as well. Let us know, what is the insight for poker players who aren’t familiar with it? What is the video gaming industry like?
Well, eSports is huge now but I always loved eSports. I was a professional StarCraft player in South Korea before I played poker, and there are actually a lot of skills that translate directly from poker to eSports. I think it’s kind of the same but every competition is a high level. That’s why you also see people like Boris Becker playing poker.
The tennis player, right?
Yes tennis, but even like Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo, in every high level competition there’s always this kind of adrenaline from the intensity of the competition.
So as an e-Gamer you get that as well?
You get that in e-Gaming as well. Hearthstone has more similar points to poker than StarCraft, because they’re both played with cards and there’s incomplete information – you don’t know what your opponent is holding so you have to predict his move. It’s the same thing in poker – you don’t know what your opponent is holding but when you see him play you can predict what he’s going to do with some hands, so you can try to be one step ahead of him. There’s also variance in Hearthstone, more so than in other video games, I think. This means that if you are the best player you don’t necessarily win all the time.
But you win a lot of the time!
You win a lot of the time but it’s still unpredictable and there’s some huge game-changing moments. It’s the same in poker – those rivers that change everything – one card can change everything and it’s the same in Hearthstone.
Recently you had a key matchup against Daniel Negreanu at BlizzCon, right?
How did that go for you?
It didn’t go so well.
What was it like playing in front of everyone? Did it bring you back to the days of South Korea?
It was a lot of fun. It did a little bit, for sure. It was huge, in front of a big audience, and nowadays because of live streaming technology, over a 100,000 people watched us play. It was crazy.
Wow! We’re two people right here. Imagine 100,000 people around us. That’s a lot of people.
I think it was 150,000 people online so that’s pretty insane. There were maybe a couple thousand over there, which is already pretty impressive but when you picture the people online it’s almost impossible to picture 150,000 people watching you live. I’ve been to the Stade de France which is around 80,000. What the hell? It’s so many people. It’s almost twice that, it’s crazy to imagine.
Do you think we’ll ever get audiences like that for a poker match? Maybe for ‘The Cube’ in the Global Poker League? Do you think we’ll get there one day?
I think we’ll get there. I don’t know if it’s for The Cube or not, but Twitch is growing a lot and Twitch Poker is growing a lot – thanks to Jason Somerville mostly.
But you’re also on Twitch!
Yeah, Jaime and I are also Twitching, so it’s growing a lot. So I think it’s not unfathomable that we will reach those audiences.
Cool! We did mention the Global Poker League and I think they’re going to have a Paris Team. Do you want to be a part of that team? Is that something you maybe want to do?
Yeah, sure, I would love to play in the Global Poker League. I think it’s something very innovative, and it’s new. I don’t know if it’s going to be very successful, but I’d like to be a part of the new thing that comes out.
Alex Dreyfus is a very innovative guy.
Only experience will tell, maybe it’s fun, maybe it’s not, but it’s a really good experience and I think it’s a great thing to do for poker so it’s good to give as much support as possible.
For sure. Everyone’s got to support Alex Dreyfus and the Global Poker League – Sportify Poker, right?
Okay, major live tournament habits – do you have a routine to prepare for it, as you’re about to go and play? Breathing techniques or something like that? Or do you just wake up and show up, and you’re on your A Game?
It’s more morale preparation. I really try to meditate in the morning and go to the gym before the tournament and just have a really healthy routine the days before the tournament. That’s mostly it. Then during the tournament I really stay focused, and that’s about it.
Okay, cool! So after you win all the events here at the PCA, what’s next for you? Are you going to Aussie Millions?
I’m not going to Aussie Millions. It’s a bit too far and it’s a really long trip.
It’s a long flight!
Especially because it’s all back-to-back this year. I really want to go to Dublin.
Ah! In Ireland, ya!
Yeah! I love Australia but it’s just so far, and I feel like I should just stay out of the poker tournament if I go there. Are you going to Aussie Millions?
I am not. Well, maybe! I don’t know. Do you want to take me?
I’m not going so I can’t take you. Sorry!
Ah, well, maybe next time around. One more question and then we’ve got something fun for you. We’ve been asking everybody this. You’re here to play poker, and you do interviews like these, but what else do you do away from the tables to have fun here in the Bahamas and relax?
I love to go swim with the dolphins actually.
Oh wow! That’s really cool!
It’s probably one of my favorite things to do.
Other than swimming with the sharks, of course.
Last year I did scuba diving for the first time as well, and it was a really amazing experience. I’m not good at it but it was still a lot of fun. It’s something so different and unique. I really want to do it again this year if I get the chance.
What a great experience.
You should do it, for sure!
Yeah? Swim with the dolphins? Maybe we’ll do a dolphins video. What do you guys think over at PokerUpdate?
No, the scuba diving, but the dolphins are cool.
That’s the end of our planned questions, but we have one special last question for you. Random question from a hat. Let’s see. Go ahead and pick one out.
Let’s see if I get lucky. Can I get lucky?
They’re all awesome questions. Go ahead and read it to the camera. What’s the question? Nice and loud for everybody.
Who is your favorite muppet?
Who is your favorite muppet?
Man, I don’t know any muppets by name.
You don’t know the muppets?
I don’t know any by name. Sorry!
Like Kermit The Frog.
Oh, I know Kermit The Frog! I think that’s the only one I know actually.
Miss Piggy? Fuzzy Bear?
Sam The Eagle?
We’ll go with Kermit The Frog.
I can do one more question if you want.
Okay, one more question!
Worst Television Theme Song Ever.
Yeah! What is the worst Television theme song ever?
Uhm, I don’t know. I don’t watch much TV either. Sorry!
Okay, one last one?
Third time’s the charm.
What are the three things that come to mind to bring to a desert island?
There we go.
That’s hard actually. Probably my girlfriend.
Okay, that’s one.
Can I carry my girlfriend?
Of course you can, and probably her bags are the other two things.
Probably survival stuff I guess because there’s probably not going to be any wifi.
Well, you heard that here first at PokerUpdate.com. Again, we are at the PCA at the Bahamas. Elky, thank you very, very, very much for agreeing to spend some time with us. The fans love you. Anything else you want to say to them?
Thanks a lot, Robbie! And thanks for the love everyone! It means a lot for me to have all the support from all my fans.
Well you give and you get right back, man. Thank you very much. Be well.