ElkY: “Ivey is Best at Cash Games, Hands Down”
According to Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier, France's winningest poker player, Phil Ivey is far and away the best poker player in the world when it comes to cash games.
ElkY points at Chris Moorman as the most impressive tournament player he's seen.
No slouch himself with over $10 million in earnings, Grospellier is at EPT London right now where he sat down with PokerListings.com's Fred Guillemot to talk shop.
The formerly top-ranked Starcraft player and now Team PokerStars Pro fills us in on his plans to win a second bracelet at the upcoming WSOP Asia Pacific in Melbourne, keeping a balance between poker and life and much more.
PokerListings.com: How hard is it to stay at the top mentally, physically and technically ?
ElkY: It depends on many things, it depends how many tournaments you play for example. It can also be harder when you're on a bad streak.
That's what happened to me recently. I did good in San Jose, but before that I hadn't got any good results since Prague.
So that can be tough, but you handle it better with experience.
I also think body and mind are tied together. Usually, if you feel great physically then you feel just as good mentally and that makes it easier to get through hard times. It also allows you focus more and longer.
To me, it's also essential to know when to stop and take a break. Poker is my number-one passion and I love the game, but sometimes it's important to take a break and catch your breath.
PL: Let's talk about the 2013 WSOP. Are you aiming for a second bracelet with a bit less pressure this time around?
ElkY: Yes, winning this second bracelet is my priority. Honestly, I just can't wait to be in Vegas already.
I may have less pressure, but there's still some because I really want that bracelet. I'll also be in Australia for the WSOP APAC and I'm going to try and win one there too.
I always want to win, so the pressure is from me really.
Plus the WSOPs are always very special – I think every poker player feels this way. It's the one time in the year when I spend a month and a half or two months in the same place, playing every day without having to worry about anything else.
I do love to travel, but most tournaments only last for a week tops, so in the end you're always moving. During the WSOP, we're almost settled down in Vegas. It pretty much feels like home.
PL: You seem insatiable. Is that what makes you such a good player?
ElkY: I just love to win. I take every tournament as the chance to prove I'm still at the top.
PL: Is your ambition to be considered the best player in the world?
ElkY: Well, that would certainly be nice. But it really depends what you're talking about.
In tournaments, I think there's very little difference between the top players, but if you include all the different games I think players like Ivey or Jason Mercier are real all-around poker players, whereas I'm not.
That's what motivates me to get better at every type of poker. I try to play a lot of mixed games, but it's not always easy to find them in Europe. There's an 8-Game here this week though, so that should be interesting and fun.
PL: According to you, who's the best online player in cash games and/or tournaments?
ElkY: I think Ivey is still the best at cash games, hands down.
For the tournaments, it's a bit harder to pick one because there are a lot of good players. I'd say that Chris Moorman is the most impressive player.
PL: You and Eugene Katchalov have been pretty close for a few years. Is it important to have a friend with you during the tournaments?
ElkY: It does help a lot. We have the same personal trainer, so we train together and spend a lot of time together. Not to mention that our schedules are a bit similar.
Even though I get along with everyone on the PokerStars team poker can be a bit lonely sometimes, so it's important to have a friend with you.
Eugene is also an excellent player, and I think it's important to have people with whom you can exchange some strategic insight. That's another great thing about Team PokerStars.
During that Full Tilt challenge for example, even if Vanessa Selbst had never played against Viktor Blom, she gave me some strategic advice. It's amazing to be able to exchange point of views with some of the best players in the world.
PL: So, kickboxing, bungee jumping... What's next?
ElkY: I don't know yet. We're thinking about doing a triathlon, me, Eugene and Andre Akkari. Nothing official yet, but it should happen. We're going to make some bets about triathlon, and maybe Tough Mudder too.
Other than that, I'd love to skydive.
PL: Do you ever look back at your Starcraft past or do you try to always look towards the future?
ElkY: I do prefer to always move forward, but sometimes I just reminisce – especially when I see some friends from back when I played Starcraft.
It's in these moments that I realize how far I've come, and that sure feels nice.
PL: What do you think poker will be like in 10 years? Do you think you'll still be playing?
ElkY: Yeah, I think I'll still be playing. Maybe not as much as I am now, but I don't think I'll stop.
For now, I love my life, I love poker, and I think I'm very lucky to be able to make a living playing poker. But you never know what can happen in 3 or 5 years. Maybe I'll wake up one day and there will be something I love more than poker.
But one thing I like about poker is that you can just take a break, do something else, and come back.
I think that poker will eventually be legal everywhere, so people from all over the world will be able to play, and that will open a whole bunch of new markets.
I don't know how long it will take, but poker is definitely going global.
Files from Fred Guillemot.