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Final Table Takedown -- Bertrand 'ElkY' Grospellier

Bertrand ‘ElkY’ Grospellier Captures the First of Two 2009 PokerStars World Championship of Online Poker Bracelets

by Craig Tapscott |  Published: Jan 08, 2010


Bertrand Grospellier

Bertrand Grospellier is a member of Team PokerStars, and has more than $5.7 million in live-tournament career earnings. His first big live win, for $2 million, came at the 2008 European Poker Tour PokerStars Caribbean Adventure. He would then go on to capture the WPT Festa al Lago championship, for $1,411,015. He also won WPT 2008 Player of the Year honors by finishing third in the $25,000 WPT Championship.

Event: 2009 PokerStars World Championship of Online Poker $500 no-limit hold’em rebuy event
Players in the Event: 1,169
First Prize: $232,730
Finish: First

Hand No. 1
Stacks: ElkY – 23,381; DaMurdera3 – 15,319; GambleAB – 14,180; Balla-B13 – 15,200
Blinds: 20-40
Players at the Table: 9

Key Concepts: Optimum strategy with big hands in the early stages of tournaments against aggressive opponents; deep-stack play

Craig Tapscott: Let’s focus on early tournament strategy, which is the first step to getting the chance to make a final table.

Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier: This hand takes place pretty early in the tournament, and all of the players are still very deep.

ElkY raises to 120 from early position with the AClub Suit ASpade Suit. DaMurdera3 calls.

BG: The player to my left (Keith Ferrera), who is a good player, calls my raise. He probably calls with a fairly wide range in this spot, as we are all deep in chips. I evaluate his range to be any suited Broadways, any pocket pairs, and oftentimes suited connectors.

Aaron “GambleAB” Bartley reraises from the small blind to 400.

BG: I have been opening quite often, but I believe that the player in the small blind must have a playable hand in order to reraise here. Indeed, he will be out of position, and since we are all deep in chips, I rule out a squeeze attempt.

Balla-B13 calls 360 from the big blind.

CT: He has to have a big hand to be flat-calling here.

BG: Yes. When he flat-calls the reraise, he definitely must have a strong hand — 10-10+, in my opinion. (He’s an opponent whom I respect a lot, Blake Cahail.) Sometimes he may have smaller pocket pairs or a speculative hand, assuming that DaMurdera3 and I will flat-call, because he would then get good implied odds.

CT: What’s the next move to get the most value out of your aces?

BG: I really think GambleAB has a strong hand in the small blind, and I don’t want to just flat-call and see Keith do the same thing behind me for a four-way pot. I decide to four-bet, because I think we are too deep for me to set up a trap with four-way action. It’s a safer play to reraise. By doing so, I am now definitely representing a strong hand. I may sometimes four-bet with air, but that will most likely be in different situations, when I am heads up against one opponent, deeper in the tournament, and I think he’s stealing.

Furthermore, if the small blind has a really strong hand, such as A-K or K-K, he might try to come over the top preflop, which would definitely be a mistake in this spot, as he is more than 300 big blinds deep.

ElkY reraises to 1,678. DaMurdera3 folds. GambleAB calls. Balla-B13 calls.

Flop: 10Club Suit 6Diamond Suit 2Diamond Suit (pot: 5,154)

BG: I don’t have a diamond, but at this point, the only hand I might be losing to is probably 10-10, so I think it’s a good flop for me to bet.

GambleAB checks. Balla-B13 checks. ElkY bets 3,456. GambleAB calls.

BG: Balla-B13 tanks again for a long time before folding; he will tell me later in the tournament that he was holding K-K!

Balla-B13 folds.

Turn: 5Diamond Suit (pot: 12,066)

GambleAB moves all in for 9,046.

CT: Do you think he’s hit a flush here?

BG: Well, at this point, I don’t think it is very likely that he’s hit a flush draw. The ADiamond Suit KDiamond Suit would be the only possibility, in my opinion, but if he held such a hand, I believe that he probably would have moved in on the flop. Indeed, I think it would be an awful play to just call the flop and be left with less than one pot-size bet on the turn with such a hand. There is still a very slight possibility that he is holding 10-10, but I don’t think his shove on the turn really represents anything. I think he probably holds an overpair.

ElkY calls. GambleAB reveals the QSpade Suit QDiamond Suit.

River: 8Spade Suit (pot: 30,158)

ElkY wins the pot of 30,158.

Hand No. 2
Stacks: ElkY – 38,939; Balla-B13 – 18,812
Blinds: 40-80
Players at the Table: 9

Key Concepts: Pot control; mixing up your flat-calling range to protect your more speculative hands

Balla-B13 raises to 240 from early position. ElkY is in middle position and is dealt the KHeart Suit KClub Suit.

CT: You’re a card rack. So that’s how you do it!

BG: (Laughing) I love PokerStars!

CT: OK, back to early-stage deep-stack strategy with big hands.

BG: Well, Balla-B13 is very deep in chips and he opens from early position. For several reasons, I decide to just flat-call.

ElkY calls.

CT: Why not reraise for value here?

BG: First, I know that Balla-B13 respects me, and I think that reraising in this spot will make him fold a majority of his range. Even if he just calls my three-bet, he will most likely play near perfectly post-flop, as he will put me on J-J+. Therefore, flat-calling helps me disguise the strength of my holding. Furthermore, by flat-calling, I give all of the players behind me an opportunity to make a “loser call,” or a wrong squeeze bet from the blinds, for example.

Flop: QSpade Suit 5Heart Suit 2Spade Suit (pot: 600)

Balla-B13 bets 400. ElkY calls.

BG: At this point, I think it is pointless for me to raise. I don’t have any spades, and I think it is unlikely that he will reraise me on a bluff, given the depth of our stacks. In addition, I have position, which will enable me to get more information on later streets. 

Turn: 2Club Suit (pot: 1,400)

Balla-B13 bets 1,000.

BG: When Blake leads again, this now tells me that he must have a strong hand. I think most of the time he is holding a queen, but he also could have a set, an ace-high flush draw, A-A, or even quads! I decide to just call again, in order to control the size of the pot.

ElkY calls.

River: 6Club Suit (pot: 3,400)

Balla-B13 bets 2,100. ElkY calls.

BG: I decide to call one more time, because I think it would be useless to raise in this spot, as well. If I raise the river bet, the only worse hands than mine that would possibly call me are A-Q and maybe K-Q. On the other hand, if Blake has me beat, I would put myself in a delicate situation with a raise on the river.

Balla-B13 reveals the AClub Suit QDiamond Suit. ElkY wins the pot of 7,600.

CT: Could you have gotten more value out of such a big hand?

BG: I may have been able to extract a little more value on the river. Had I three-bet preflop, I think I would have ended up winning less on the hand, as Blake may have either folded or played the rest of the hand very carefully. Having position and flat-calling the preflop raise helped me disguise the strength of my hand, as my opponent thought he was value-betting every street. In addition, I was able to control the pot size all the way.

Finally, I like to mix up the way I play big hands against great players, because it makes me more unpredictable and difficult to read. Spade Suit