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Hand History Time Capsule: Bertrand ‘ElkY’ Grospellier

Grospellier Dominates 2008 WPT Festa Al Lago

by Erik Fast |  Published: Nov 02, 2011

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Bertrand GrospellierIn this new series, “Hand History Time Capsule,” Card Player digs up memorable hands to help you relive, or perhaps discover for the first time, pivotal situations from some of poker’s most exciting moments.

In the 2008 World Poker Tour Festa al Lago main event, 368 players put up the $15,000 buy-in to create a nearly $5.4 million prize pool and a first-place prize of $1.4 million. The dominant force heading into the final table was France’s Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier, who had more than a third of the chips in play. A former professional video game player, Grospellier had quickly proven himself on the international poker tournament circuit with a huge win at the 2008 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure for $2 million and a runner-up finish at the 2007 European Poker Tour Copenhagen main event.

Although Grospellier held the chip lead, it was far from a sure thing. He was up against some tough competition, which included Nenad Medic and Nam Le, who are both WPT champions. Adam “Roothlus” Levy entered with the shortest stack at the final table, but brought a wealth of experience in tournament play as one of online poker’s more successful players. Amateur players Osmin “Oddie” Dardon and Will Mietz rounded out this six-handed final table.

Building On The Lead and An Incredible Call

Six-handed play began with blinds of 50,000 -100,000 and a 10,000 ante. Grospellier raised to 275,000 with ASpade Suit 8Club Suit and Nam Le called with the AHeart Suit 5Heart Suit. The flop came 10Heart Suit 10Club Suit 3Spade Suit and Grospellier bet out for 335,000. Le deliberated for a moment before he called and the turn brought the 8Spade Suit. Grospellier checked and Le bet 400,000. Grospellier called and the river brought the 2Spade Suit. Grospellier checked once again and Le checked behind, hoping that his ace high would be good. Grospellier revealed that he had the best hand with a pair of 8s, and raked in a sizable pot early on against one of his toughest opponents.

After that hand, Grospellier had increased his already solid chip lead and grown his stack to 7.36 million, with Nenad Medic having the next largest stack with 3.2 million. What happened next only accelerated Grospellier’s momentum.

In arguably the hand of the tournament, Grospellier raised to 260,000 with AClub Suit 10Spade Suit and William Mietz called with KDiamond Suit 10Heart Suit. The flop brought the 9Spade Suit 7Spade Suit 4Diamond Suit and both players checked. The turn brought the 9Diamond Suit and ElkY bet 360,000. Mietz deliberated for a while before announcing that he was all in for 715,000 more. ElkY asked for the dealer to bring in the chips and count down the amount he had to call.

Incredibly, he did decide to call with just ace-ten high and Mietz revealed that he held only king high. The river changed nothing with the 9Heart Suit and Mietz was sent to the rail in sixth place as a result of an unbelievable call from Grospellier.

ElkY Continues To Roll

Shortly after eliminating Mietz, Grospellier sent another oppponent packing. Adam Levy found himself all in with AClub Suit 9Heart Suit against Grospellier’s QSpade Suit QDiamond Suit. The board rolled out KSpade Suit 3Club Suit 2Diamond Suit QHeart Suit 7Spade Suit and Grospellier’s set of queens sent Levy packing in fifth place.

Four-handed play continued for a while with ElkY building on his lead. With 10.25 million in chips, and the combined chips of his three opponents totaling only 6,315,000, it was clear that Grospellier was a strong favorite to take home the title.

With the blinds still at 60,000-120,000 with a 15,000 ante, Nenad Medic raised to 305,000 with the 8Spade Suit 6Heart Suit. Grospellier reraised to 865,000 with 6Spade Suit 6Club Suit and won the pot, leaving Medic short on chips. After that, Grospellier kept the pressure on, putting Medic and his other opponents to the test. On two different occasions where players folded facing a call for their tournament life, Grospellier showed them that he had gone all-in holding only 3-2 suited.

After folding a few of these moves, Medic soon found himself all-in with pocket sixes himself against Grospellier’s KSpade Suit JSpade Suit before the flop. The board brought the JClub Suit 9Club Suit 3Diamond Suit 2Diamond Suit 5Heart Suit and Medic was sent to the rail in fourth place with $373,010 in prize money to console him.

Sure Thing?

Bertrand GrospellierWhen three-handed play began, Grospellier held nearly 13.4 million of the roughly 16.5 million chips in play. With incredible aggression, skill and luck, it seemed that the tournament was well within his grasp.

With the sizable blinds of 60,000-120,000 with a 15,000 ante, and such a dominant stack, Grospellier decided to stomp on the gas pedal even harder. He moved in preflop multiple times, showing hands like 5Diamond Suit 3Spade Suit and QHeart Suit 5Diamond Suit when his opponents folded. After a few hands of folding, Nam Le finally called all in with AHeart Suit JClub Suit and he was ahead of Grospellier’s measly 8Spade Suit 3Heart Suit. Grospellier did not improve, and Le doubled up to 2.62 million.

Shortly after Le’s double up, Dardon found himself all-in in the small blind with QSpade Suit JHeart Suit against Grospellier’s ADiamond Suit 4Club Suit. He immediately started calling for paint cards to hit the board. He got his wish when the board ran out KDiamond Suit JSpade Suit 6Club Suit 10Heart Suit 3Club Suit and doubled him up to 3.45 million. After the hand, he asked Grospellier if that would put an end to the onslaught of all-ins.

Dardon slowly built his stack back up to 5.7 million, when he played a huge hand against Grospellier, who had fallen back within reach of the pack.

The blinds had increased to 80,000-160,000 with a 15,000 ante. Dardon raised to 400,000 with ADiamond Suit 10Heart Suit and Grospellier called in the small blind with 4Spade Suit 4Heart Suit. The board rolled out ASpade Suit QDiamond Suit 5Diamond Suit and Grosepellier checked his underpair. Dardon checked behind with his top pair, and the turn brought the 7Heart Suit. Once again, both players checked and the river paired the board with the 7Spade Suit. Grospellier then bet 160,000. Dardon raised to 860,000 and Grospellier called. Dardon showed his pair of aces with a ten kicker to win the pot and just like that, overtook the chip lead from Grospellier.

Back on Top

It did not take long for Grospellier to regain the lead. Seemingly undeterred by the setbacks he experienced early in three-handed play, he kept up the preflop aggression. In one key hand he raised to 360,000 with KSpade Suit 4Club Suit and Dardon called from the big blind with 5Diamond Suit 4Diamond Suit. Dardon took the lead on the flop when it brought the 9Heart Suit 5Spade Suit 3Diamond Suit, but checked to Grospellier who also checked. The turn brought the KClub Suit, which gave Grospellier the higher pair. Dardon checked and Grospellier bet 460,000. Dardon called and the 7Heart Suit hit the river. Dardon checked for a third time, and called the hefty 960,000 bet from Grospellier only to find that he had lost the lead on the turn, and in turn lost the chip lead.

Grospellier continued to play his game, and his prior aggression earned him many pots uncontested and many calls when he picked up big hands. He was able to increase his lead back to nearly the one he held entering three-handed play. Dardon was the most interested in putting up a fight against the onslaught, while Nam Le mostly folded his bad and marginal hands and kept out of the fray and had blinded down to a very short stack.

Finally, the conflict came to a head when Grospellier raised to 330,000 with 10Club Suit 2Club Suit. Dardon studied his options for a bit with ASpade Suit JClub Suit and decided to raise to 1,130,000. Grospellier decided to move all-in over the top of this raise, perhaps due to the fact that with a very short-stacked Nam Le, Oddie Dardon had some motivation to avoid putting his tournament life at risk. Dardon did call, however, and although the flop brought the 9Spade Suit 4Spade Suit 2Spade Suit giving Grospellier a pair of deuces, Dardon still had two overcards and the nut-flush draw. The board ran out with the 9Diamond Suit on the turn and 3Heart Suit on the river, however, and Dardon was eliminated in third place, leaving Grospellier heads-up with a massive lead of 15.6 million to Le’s 920,000.

Domination Complete

With such a massive disparity and Grospellier’s willingness to go for the win, heads-up play seemed destined to be a quick affair. Le was able to double up twice, with pocket deucess winning a race against Grospellier’s 6Club Suit 3Heart Suit, and ASpade Suit JClub Suit prevailing over QClub Suit 3Club Suit, but he was still well behind. The players got all in for a third time with Le holding ADiamond Suit QHeart Suit against Grospellier’s 10Club Suit 10Heart Suit. The board brought the 10Diamond Suit 7Spade Suit 6Spade Suit 9Heart Suit KSpade Suit and just like that Grospellier had won his second major tournament of 2008 and $1,411,015 in prize money. Le pocketed $943,215 for his second place finish.

Grospellier has gone on to earn just under $9.4 million in tournaments so far in his career. At the the 2011 World Series of Poker he added his first WSOP bracelet to his WPT and EPT titles, becoming only the fourth player in history to achieve poker’s “triple crown.” This win at the 2008 WPT Festa al Lago introduced many American poker fans to the legend of “ElkY,” the fast and aggressive Frenchmen who seemed to have no fear and a relentless betting arm. With an incredible call early in the final table, persistent aggression, and some luck, Grospellier won this final table in dominant fashion. ♠