French Rap Star Kool Shen Represents at WSOP Europe

Bruno Lopes helped pioneer hip hop in France, and now he's part of poker's exploding French popularity.

Bruno Lopes made a name for himself as one of the founding fathers of French rap and although there’s still a place for hip hop in his life, it’s beginning to lose out to his passion for poker.

Lopes, who went double-platinum under the alias Kool Shen with rap group “Supreme NTM”, has been playing in big buy-in poker events since 2008.

“I first played poker when I was 13 years old, playing five-card draw,” Lopes told at the 2011 World Series of Poker Europe in Cannes.

“I forgot about poker completely for 25 years, until 2005 when I saw people playing Texas Hold’em on television,” he added.

Now 44 years old and playing upwards of 40 hours a week in both online and live formats, Lopes is only becoming more passionate, and more skilled, at the poker table.

Lopes has amassed nearly a quarter of a million dollars in live tournament earnings, highlighted by deep runs at the Grand Prix de Paris in 2010 and the EPT Grand Final the same year. So far a truly big score has eluded him.

He also plays online poker under the screen name “93styles93”.

“I love poker and I’ve been very lucky to meet lots of good people who play great poker,” said Lopes.

“I’m good friends with Stephane Albertini who finished 47th in the Main Event and he’s taught me a lot of what I know.”

Lopes stopped producing music with Supreme NTM and co-rapper JoeyStarr in the late 90s, going on to create his own record label, IV My People, and his own clothing line, High 2.

Hooked by poker after seeing big games play out on TV, Lopes had gotten his feet wet before being picked up by PokerStars and sponsored entry into EPT Deauville, San Remo and Monte Carlo in 2009.

Lopes bricked Deauville but went on to post a min-cash in San Remo and a 42nd place finish at the Grand Final worth almost $40,000. The next month he narrowly missed his first major final table at the Grand Prix de Paris, finishing 16th for almost $50,000.

Chances are he would have ridden that mini-heater into more live tournaments but in June of last year he reunited with former Supreme NTM member JoeyStarr and played to a 50,000-strong audience at the Parc des Princes in Paris.

A few months later Lopes was back on the tournament circuit, this time making the final two tables of WPT Marrakech. The next time his name would appear on a major tournament result was at the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas where he notched two cashes, the bigger of which was a 20th out of 817 in the $5k Triple Chance event.

“Winning a bracelet would be the best thing in the world but even making the final table of a tournament like this would be a dream for me,” said Lopes.

Follow Kool Shen's progress on's 2011 WSOP Europe main event live coverage page.

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