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WSOP 2011 Best Bets International: France
Every year we get ready for the World Series of Poker by introducing you to our top picks for players to watch in Las Vegas.
This year we’ve drawn on our vast network of international poker writers to give us a few inside picks from countries around the world.
Surprises are always a great part of the WSOP story, like Vanessa Hellebuyck winning an unexpected bracelet for France at the 2010 WSOP.
But it’s equally fun to try and predict who the main stories will be.
It's still virtually impossible to predict, but if the cards fall right you can reasonably assume some players will be at the the top more often than others.
So who then stands the best chance to bring a sixth bracelet back to France at the 2011 WSOP?
Bertrand « ElkY » Grospellier (30 years old)
No need to introduce ElkY anymore.
Rightly regarded as the best French player in the world right now, the PokerStars Team Pro has settled the argument yet again this month by winning both High Roller events ($25k and $10k turbo) at the EPT Grand Final.
Since his first cash at the WSOP in 2006, ElkY has secured at least two cashes every year at the Series including one final table in 2007 and a 122nd-place finish in the 2009 Main Event won by Joe Cada.
For a guy who has won everything, or almost everything, in both live and online poker, a WSOP bracelet is without a doubt goal number one.
As he told PokerListings recently:
"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."
This year is also an opportunity for him to become the first French player (and only the third in history after Gavin Griffin and Roland de Wolfe) to win the "Triple Crown" (a win on the EPT, WPT and WSOP).
To give himself the best shot possible, ElkY is also planning to participate in a maximum of tournaments.
2011 could well be the year for ElkY.
Tristan Clémençon (21 years old)
Known as one of the most promising young French players, Tristan Clémençon (Team Winamax) will participate in his first WSOP this year at the age of 21.
Six cashes on the EPT circuit (including a 3rd place at Deauville in 2009), a 6th place at WPT Barcelona in 2010 and a cash at the WSOPE in London in 2009 have already testified to his talent - especially in Omaha.
Will Vegas 2011 be the place for his first title?
David Benyamine (38 years old)
Former French "number one" before ElkY emerged and took the spotlight, David Benyamine has already provided France with a bracelet in 2008.
With Vegas as his new adopted homeland, Benyamine will also probably be a lot more active at the WSOP tables this year (10 cashes since 2007).
A few good results since the beginning of the year (PCA, Aussie Millions and the NBC National Heads-up Championship) could be a good sign we’re in for a big year from "Big Ben."
Bruno Launais (25 years old) and Marc Inizan (25 years old)
Launais and Inizan are two more young French players the world will be following very soon.
Launais (Team Partouche) has four cashes on the EPT since 2009, including two final tables.
He also cashed twice at the 2010 WSOP including a 4th-place finish in the $5k No-Limit Hold’em Six-Handed event.
Inizan (Team Winamax) has three cashes on the WPT circuit since 2007, a 3rd-place finish at EPT Berlin in 2010 and two cashes at the WSOP last year.
The two WSOP cashes were impressive to say the least, with a 13th in the $10k World Championship Pot-Limit Hold’em event and 9th in the WSOP Europe Main Event.
An imminent big performance seems to be a foregone conclusion for both of them.
Alain Roy (45 years old)
Roy has has had several top finshes since the €1,000,000 Partouche Poker Tour title in 2008 that made him semi-famous in France.
Since then he's accumulated almost another million in cashes, thanks to good results almost everywhere in Europe - especially on the EPT (22nd at the Grand Final in 2009) and in a lot of side events in France.
Roy has no cashes at the WSOP yet, however - something which could be fixed soon should he continue his successful early 2011 (9 cashes including 7 final tables).
"The goal of a bracelet would be pretentious of course, but I’m a winner and I never start with losing in mind.
"You need a lot of luck, but it is part of the game."
Nicolas Levi (28 years old), Ludovic Lacay (25 years old) and Antony Lellouche (30 years old)
The Team Winamax buddies have something in common: all have narrowly missed a first bracelet recently.
Lacay had two final tables in two $10k World Championship events (Heads-up and Pot-Limit Omaha) at the 2010 WSOP.
Levi also had two final tables (with a 5th place in the WSOPE Main Event) in 2010.
Lellouche just missed in 2007, finishing 3rd in a Deuce-to-Seven tournament.
A tough early 2011 for Lellouche in cash games could also see him coming back more motivated as ever.
By their style of play and the quality of their games, these three men are still among the best French chances to earn a new bracelet.
PokerListings.com will be in Las Vegas for the entire WSOP. Keep an eye on all the action on our WSOP 2011 Live Coverage page.
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