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European Players of the Year

by Ryan Lucchesi |  Published: Mar 02, 2009

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Bertrand GrospellierBertrand "ElkY" Grospellier began 2008 with the biggest win of his career. He won the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, emerging from a field of 1,136 players to take home $2 million. The second major title of the year for ElkY came in October. He won the World Poker Tour Festa al Lago tournament and another $1,411,015 in prize money. Grospellier cashed a total of 10 times in 2008 and six of those cashes came at final tables. He accumulated 5,510 Card Player Player of the Year points during 2008, giving him the European Player of the Year title, as well as third place in the overall Player of the Year contest. Grospellier won a total of $3,618,720 playing tournament poker in 2008, which is the largest amount won by any poker player that did not make an appearance at the World Series of Poker main event final table. 2009 had only begun when he was making headlines yet again for another big win from the Bahamas, after taking down the $25,000 high-roller event for $433,500 at this season's PCA. This brings his total winnings, at time of writing, to $4,681,839.

Ryan Lucchesi: Would you say that your win early in 2008 at the PCA was your biggest win of the year?

Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier:
It was the biggest because it was the first one I guess. The one here at Bellagio for the World Poker Tour was very important also because it was a very different field and all of the set up was different. It was a big confirmation. For personal satisfaction, I think I played even better at the Bellagio tournaments, but at the PCA it was a bigger field and it was my first really big win, so it is still very special.

RL:
Would you say that the second major title that a player wins really establishes them as a force in the poker community?

BG:
I guess it is really important to make that confirmation because these days there are so many tournaments all over the world so there are a lot of tournament winners. But winning two major titles in one year is a very big feat so I'm very proud and I'm very proud of the way I worked on my game.

RL:
Would the Card Player Player of the Year award be another top honour you hope to claim during your career?

BG:
Yes, of course actually, I've had that in mind for a couple of weeks now and I tried really hard to win some tournaments. I made it deep in some events here but at the end the cards were not with me. I'm staying confident in my play and in this tournament the structure is so great that I'm even more confident because I don't have to gamble early on and I can really develop my whole game so I can play efficiently and pick the best spots I can find so I'm very confident.

Bertrand GrospellierRL:
You made the last $5,000 final table in the preliminary event at Bellagio in December along with fellow POY contender David Pham. Were you really keeping tabs on him throughout the tournament, and especially at the final table?

BG:
We have played together a lot and we are really good friends and he is a really good player. John Phan is ahead of us both anyway so it didn't really matter to me because all I want is first place. I don't care about being in second place.

RL:
You started the year really hot with the big PCA win and bookended 2008 with a victory at Festa al Lago. Do you feel that timing is really important in the POY race and in tournament poker in general?

BG:
Of course it is very important to be in good condition because poker is a game with a lot of variance, so when the rush of cards come and the correct conditions come you have to be in perfect condition to exploit it to the maximum. Some tournaments I can win without playing my very best the whole time, but it's very important for the big events to play your best because small mistakes can make a huge difference at the end of a tournament so you really have to exploit everything.

Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier is the Card Player European Player of the Year 2008.



Ivan DemidovIvan Demidov accomplished the most impressive poker feat of 2008 on his way to finishing in fourth place in the Card Player Player of the Year race. He made the final table of the 2008 World Series of Poker $10,000 no-limit hold'em world championship main event in July, and he also made the final table of the World Series of Poker Europe main event in October. Demidov finished in third place in London to take home £334,850 in prize money, and this gave him momentum heading into November for part one of the WSOP main event final table. Many were picking Demidov to make the heads-up match and possibly win the world championship, and the young Russian delivered. He made the final heads-up battle with Peter Eastgate, eventually finishing in second place, to win $5,809,595. Demidov made his debut in 2008, and scored 4,940 POY points, making him the unofficial Rookie of the Year in the POY race.

Ryan Lucchesi: You made history this year by making the final tables at both the World Series of Poker main event and WSOP Europe. What did it mean to you personally to accomplish both of those feats in the same year when no one else has done it?

Ivan Demidov:
It's probably an achievement that I will never do again. Not just making the final table, but something close to that like winning two titles in one year is going to be almost impossible. I'm just enjoying myself and the freedom that money gave me and the ability to play anywhere that I want and to travel a lot. That's the most important part for me.

RL:
PokerStars announced the first year of the Russian Poker Tour recently. That has to be in large part thanks to the success of yourself and Alex Kravchenko in recent years. Does it give you a lot of pride that there is a Russian Poker Tour now?

ID:
Definitely, because we lacked a really big tournament in Russia. There were finally some big tournaments last year, but that was still only 100 players. With the support of PokerStars and online qualifiers it will be really nice to see a huge event in Russia. There a lot of good players and some players that are under-21 that can play in Russia, and it will be nice to see what happens. I'm optimistic about it.

RL:
What can you tell me about the Russian poker scene?

ID:
There are a lot of good young Russian players. They're mainly cash players, but if they convince themselves to switch to live tournaments and play them for a little bit I think they will have great results. They're still under 21 so they can't travel and play in the U.S. We'll have to see in a couple of years, but the Russian poker scene is really growing.

RL:
Every year during the POY race a certain player emerges as the Rookie of the Year, and this year you are that player. How has your poker game matured during the last year?

ID:
It's really hard to say with poker, it was probably a combination of finally travelling to events and getting lucky at certain times, it's really a combination of things. It's really hard to say if I will be able to sustain results over the next years, but we'll see. It's impossible to say if you're just that good or if it is just variance. I'll just have to keep playing.

RL:
You're definitely a player that has emerged that we expect to see out on the tournament trail consistently moving forward. What are your plans for tournament poker in 2009?

ID: I'm going to play all of the EPT events and most of the big tournaments in Europe, the Russian Poker Tour, Asian Poker Tour, and definitely the World Series, and definitely the WPT Championship in April. I'll probably concentrate on Europe because the fields are really small this year here in the U.S. In Europe EPT London was sold out and there was a long waiting list. It really makes sense to concentrate on Europe right now for me, especially considering the travel times.