Soulier on GPL: "It’s Good to See How Seriously the Players Take It"

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Poker pro and former Everest Poker ambassador Fabrice Soulier was smoking a roll-up outside after Day 1 of the EPT Grand Final main event.

It was after midnight and a 10-hour day of poker has just ended.

“I don’t smoke much," he says, “but after these long days of playing, it feels good.”

These days might feel particularly long because there’s been an addition to his family that keeps the parents awake at night.

“She’s two years old," Soulier says. "If we get six hours of sleep at night, we’re happy.”

Before his eyes closed from sleep deprivation we had a quick chat about the new, lower buy-in incarnation of the EPT Grand Final, his team's early success in the Global Poker League and more.

PokerListings: They cut the main event buy-in in half this year. Good or bad idea?

ept monaco me poker floor 1
Smaller buy-in, bigger field.

Fabrice Soulier: I didn’t have an opinion at first but it looks like a good idea. At least the field seems to be much softer than last year.

With the smaller buy-in there are a lot more qualifiers in the field. Some entered through spin-and-go promotions and similar so the quality is lower than in the past.

PL: Does it make a difference to professionals? Are there players who say €10k is too much but I’ll come and play for €5k? Or do they swap so much that it doesn’t matter?

FS: I don’t think it makes a difference for them, at least not for the €5k tournaments. Personally, I swap very small parts of the buy-in, maybe 3 or 5 per cent, but I can’t speak for the others.

Swapping is usually a lot more important in the High Roller events. Players in the 50k or 100k usually swap a lot more.

PL: You're the manager of the Paris Aviators in the Global Poker League, who have started out very strong. What are your impressions of the GPL after the first four weeks?

FS: Very positive. I’m surprised about what Alex [Dreyfus] and his team have achieved. It’s a very clean competition, it works well, and it gets me really motivated.

No motivation issues here.

I’m also motivating my team as much as I can. You know how poker players are – they are lazy, they miss appointments and so on. 

So I chose my players carefully and I told them 'guys, when we do this, you’ve got to be there and you’ve got to be on time, every time.'

I picked players who are focused and really wanted to win, and I think I’ve chosen well.

(Ed. note: Soulier's team includes Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier, Davidi Kitai, George Danzer, Mike Leah and Alexandre Luneau, who have won over $30 million in tournaments combined and are currently in second place of the Eurasian conference).

PL: What are the strengths and weaknesses of the GPL?

FS: One of its strengths is that it gives recreational players a lot of information. However that’s also a weakness, because the pros have to work harder to improve their game.

GPL Cube
The Cube is coming.

What I keep telling Alex is that the GPL can be big, but they have to go big. Maybe they are a little understaffed at the moment.

PL: Is watching a 6-max Sit-and-Go something that really attracts new players? Isn’t this more interesting for those who are already players?

FS: Yes, I kind of agree with you there. However, what’s going to attract a lot of new players is the final. The deeper we go into the season, the more fun it’s going to be and the more people will get involved.

It’s good to see, though, how seriously the players take it as there is not much money in this. We’ve been almost playing freerolls.

All in all I like it a lot and I’m convinced that we’re going to sportify poker as it was planned.

PL: In another four weeks the whole squad moves to Vegas for some live action. Do you know what this is going to look like?

FS: They’re building a studio with a great set-up and TV table, with interviews and filming and everything. It’s going to look great.

Fabrice Soulier BOM 2015 9
Ready to win.

PL: Where is that studio going to be? In the Rio?

FS: Close to the Rio, in an industrial zone close to the Panorama Towers. It’s a short drive.

PL: Have you seen “the Cube” yet?

FS: No. They’re building it at the moment, I think, but it’s not finished. I’ve seen plans and it’s going to look like the cube you can play squash in.

Epilogue: On Day 2 of the EPT Grand Final Soulier’s opinion on the quality of the tournament may have changed slightly. As the draw had it he was at the feature table with Vanessa Selbst, Dominik Nitsche, Patrik Antonius, Justin Bonomo and Anton Spinella. He eventually busted in a three-way all-in with queens to Antonius’ pocket aces.

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