Endlessly sociable at the tables, renowned for his integrity and fair play and always looking to improve his game, the only thing missing from Bevand's resume is the big win he needs to get the real international recognition he deserves.
Not that he minds, of course. ManuB just continues along his merry way, sharing his love of poker and maintaining the values that are dear to him.
An early favorite in the voting for our 2014 Most Inspiring Player Award, PokerListings France's Fred Guillemot caught up with Bevand by email for his thoughts on inspiration, dedication and how poker can change the way you think in life.
PokerListings: Manu, you’ve been nominated in the Most Inspiring Player category at the 2014 PokerListings Awards. Is being a role model, through your game and behavior, one of your goals both as an individual player and a member of Team Winamax?
Manuel Bevand: I don’t think “being a role model” can really be a goal per se. It’s not something you decide, you just become one when you’re honest and genuine.
PL: What do you think makes you such a well-liked player and one of the most popular French players?
MB: I think that’s a question maybe for the people who like me, but I think it’s mostly because I’m still very approachable and I always try to be available for poker fans.
I just feel that I owe it to the poker community as a whole, and more particularly to the Club Poker community, because they’ve always supported me and thanks to them I was able to fulfill my dream and play live tournaments.
I am so grateful for that and I’ll never forget it.
PL: During the episode of the Winamax series “Dans la tête d’un pro” (Inside a pro’s mind) in which you were featured, we could see that discussion and self-analysis were very important to you. However, don’t you sometimes find it exhausting to always strive for perfection?
MB: Striving for perfection is hard, and endless, because perfection doesn’t exist. But as we always say, it’s the journey that matters, not the destination.
PL: In poker, one never stops learning. Do you think that this is one of the best parts of the game and is that the reason so many people are passionate about it?
MB: I think that the worst mistake you can make in poker - and in life in general - is thinking that you understand it all.
You have to find the right balance and be confident without becoming over-confident. It’s a big difference from some sportsmen who don’t hesitate to claim that they’re the best in the world (and regularly prove it).
Also, there’s a significant difference between saying “I’m the best” and “My game is perfect." In poker, saying you’re the best just means you play slightly less badly than everyone else.
PL: Like a lot of other talented poker players, you’re a former - very successful - Magic: the Gathering player. Do you play Hearthstone or other card games? Do you think that these games are more or less fulfilling than poker in the long term?
MB: Magic is an exceptionally complex and tactically rich game. It also requires a lot of creativity.
I enjoy playing Magic much more than poker, but it’s almost impossible to make a living playing Magic.
I do not play Hearthstone. I gave it a try but it felt like a simplified version of Magic. I have to say I have neither the time nor the energy to dig deeper and see if I’m wrong.
PL: You started playing poker in 2005. What’s the most precious thing poker has brought you, on a personal level?
MB: Poker has changed the way I think in life. I’m less naive than I used to be and I’ve become more logical and pragmatic when I have to make a decision.
In some ways, it has revealed my true personality, both in its noble and weaker aspects. I also understand people better than before. And of course I’ve met a lot of incredible people!
PL: I know that personal and spiritual development are very important to you. What are the books that have changed your outlook on life?
MB: What Makes You Not a Buddhist, by Dzongsar Jamyang. This is a great introduction to Buddhism for Westerners.
The Fabric of Reality, by David Deutsch. This is a very difficult but fascinating book about the nature of the universe and the epistemic reflection.
Cyrano de Bergerac, by Edmond Rostand. This character represents the moral ideal I’m striving for.
PL: What do you think poker’s biggest stars still lack to really fulfill their role in the poker community?
MB: I think that poker players - especially those who benefited from the poker boom in the 2000s - owe it to their fans to spend some time with them.
Other than that, I’m a big admirer of the charity work that players like Igor Kurganov and Philipp Gruissem accomplish.
PL: Recently, Daniel Colman caused quite a stir when he refused to give the winner’s interview after his win in the Big One for One Drop. He was also very critical of poker in general. What do you make of that?
MB: I do understand his point of view, but the way he expressed it was wrong. He had the perfect opportunity to express his opinion.
PL: Do you personally feel that it is sometimes difficult to reconcile your personal beliefs and the promotion of poker?
MB: Yes, especially when you’re face to face with people who are losing but won’t do what it takes to win. Personally, I think we should tell the truth about poker and not promote it blindly.
PL: Who are the players that inspire you the most?
MB: Davidi Kitai is my role model as a competitor. He is a great person and a champion.
I also really like Daniel Negreanu, who’s a perfect ambassador for poker and one of the only “old school” players who’s always questioning himself.
As far as French players are concerned, I admire people like Nicolas Levi and Pedro Canali who manage to remain humane while playing poker.
PL: Who would you vote for in each of the categories of the 2014 PokerListings Awards?
MB: Philipp Gruissem (for his charity work), Adrian Mateos (I played with him for an hour and I was VERY impressed) and Roger Hairabedian (one hell of a character!).
PL: It’s hard to give short advice, but if you had one thing to say to the players who are reading this, what would it be?
MB: I think I’ll let Bobby McFerrin do the talking:
"In every life we have some trouble
When you worry you make it double
Don't worry, be happy... "
Voting is open in the 2014 PokerListings Spirit of Poker Awards until August 26. Vote for Manuel and see our full list of nominees right here!
The 2014 Spirit of Poker Awards will be handed out during a live ceremony at the 2014 Battle of Malta Nov 6-9. Join us there!