2011 WSOP De-Brief: France

Sacré bleu! The French poker scene would appear to be enjoying something of a renaissance, given the performances by its natives at the 2011 World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. A haul of four bracelets is impressive enough for any nation outside of the United States, but when you consider that French poker players had only won four bracelets in total prior to the 2011 WSOP, it really puts into perspective quite how impressive this year’s performance is.

The first of the four French players to collect World Series of Poker jewellery at the 2011 WSOP, was Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier. It was only a matter of time before Grospellier would taste glory at the World Series of Poker, having already bagged a World Poker Tour and a European Poker Tour title, but few would have predicted that his first WSOP bracelet would come in a Seven Card Stud event – Grospellier had never actually bought into a major Seven Card Stud event prior to his win in the 2011 WSOP Seven Card Stud Championship!

“ElkY” had a pretty successful WSOP all round this summer, cashing four times (including his win) for tournament prize money of more than $800,000. These weren’t just any old cashes either, in addition to winning the $10,000 buy in Stud Championship, he paled third in the $10,000 Six Handed No Limit Hold’em Championship and 11th in the $10,000 Deuce To Seven Draw Championship.

Grospellier is undoubtedly the best French poker player in the world at present and at just 30 years old, he has now won everything there is to win in both live and online poker.

Before the start of the 2011 World Series of Poker, Grospellier said: “Trying to win a bracelet is always the goal every year. I will try to do my best, but you can’t control the variance.”

Are you sure about that, Elky?

Although it took 21 events for the French to get up and running at the 2011 WSOP, they wouldn’t have to wait too much longer before tasting victory for a second time, as Elie Payan took down event number 22, the $1,500 Pot Limit Omaha tournament.

Payan was basically unknown in the live poker sphere before the 2011 WSOP, but since he beat a field of 1,071 to claim the first prize of $292,825, plus that coveted gold World Series of Poker bracelet, he is far more recognizable.

If he ever gets tired of poker, Payan could possibly carve out a secondary career as a psychic, for after securing his first WSOP bracelet and France’s second, he claimed: “Two bracelets is great but France can do better. This will be a big year for French players at the WSOP.”

And how right he was, as WSOP event number 37 – the $10,000 H.O.R.S.E. Championship – brought a third success for the French, in the form of Fabrice Soulier, previously though of as the best poker player never to have won a WSOP bracelet.

Before the HORSE Championship success, Fabrice Soulier had secured 17 World Series of Poker cashes, as well as big money finishes on the World Poker Tour and the Partouche Poker Tour, for around $3 million in live poker winnings. Finally though, the veteran poker pro can boast a World Series of Poker bracelet.

And to add further weight to the claims of young Elie Payan, a fourth WSOP success soon arrived in event number 50 – the $5,000 Triple Chance No Limit Hold’em tournament – as 45 year old Antonin Teisseire took down the event for $825,604 in prize money.

A field of 817 was no match for the Frenchman, which includes a strong, American heavy final table featuring the talents of Eric Froehlich and Adam Geyer. But this was clearly to be the year of the French.

Teisseire, a larger than life character from Tassin la Demi Lune, said shortly after his 2011 WSOP victory: “If eating, drinking and partying were my sport, I’d be the Phil Ivey of the game. I love to eat! I love to drink! I love to live life!”

What an excellent philosophy, Antonin. Vive la France!

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