At the start of the day few would have bet against David "The Dragon" Pham, who came to the final table the overwhelming chip leader. Heading the resistance, with less than half Pham's stack, was PokerStars pro Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier.
By the end of the evening the Dragon had been slain and only Hafiz Khan stood in the way of ElkY's first major win. The heads-up match barely got under way though before Grospellier had sent Khan following in the footsteps of the six who had been previously ejected from this final table. After the winner photos and a short celebration we commandeered the champion for a short press conference in one of the back rooms.
Poker is Really Huge in France
Give us your thoughts on David Pham. He's a dangerous player and he came into the day as the big chip leader. How did you plan to deal with him and how did it end up working?
I was the second-biggest stack so I didn't want to play a huge pot with him; the blinds were still pretty small. Because I had position on him I wanted to take advantage of his aggression but after I doubled-up and won a few big pots David stopped raising my blinds so much and I was able to keep him under control a bit better. He was limping on my big blind a lot and he took a lot of big hits from the other players. He didn't get a lot of good cards I think so that was really good for me.
Was he your biggest worry at the final table?
Yes of course. He was the most aggressive player at the table and he came in with the chip lead so I was worried about him. I was also worried about Joe Elpayaa on my left but he took a big hit and I was able to eliminate him with A-Q.
Going into the heads-up match you and Hafiz Khan made a deal to chop the money and play for $300,000. How much does that change the dynamic of a match?
Well actually it didn't take much pressure off me because I really wanted the title. The money is huge but the title is the most important thing to me. I would have been very disappointed if I had finished second. I had a big chip lead and I thought my opponent was a bit passive so I was able to take advantage of this by raising a lot pre-flop. He was folding too many buttons. I think he got tired of me raising his big blind so much and he decided to make a big move. Luckily I picked up eights so it was a pretty easy call.
You mentioned how much this title means to you so tell us a bit about what this tournament means in the world of online poker, as well as how this field compares to some of the other big tournaments in the world.
That is one of the reasons winning here was so important to me, because most of the field is from PokerStars and other online players. Online players are very good in general so I think this field is harder than any other tournament in the year. So it was a really huge accomplishment for me to win here. It means a lot.
We've now seen back-to-back EPTs taken down by French players so tell us a bit about poker in France and what we can expect from other French players in the future.
Poker is really huge in France. There are a lot of new players that are very good. There are tournaments in casinos in France for the first time and there are more and more all the time. I think with the poker community in France the players are going to get better and better. I'll be starting my own site soon where I'll be giving people advice on strategy and hands of the day and that sort of thing.
Any plans for the money?
Champagne for everyone tonight. Partying tonight and after that I'm not too sure.
Thank you ElkY and congratulations again.
With Arnaud Mattern's recent victory in Prague this makes France two for the last two European Poker Tour Events and while French players have never been too scarce on the tour we've seen a host of talented young guns out to make a name for themselves this season. The next stop is Copenhagen and I can guarantee there will be a few Scandinavians with something to say about the French dominance in the last few months. Keep it locked on PokerListings.com's live tournament section to see how that particular conversation goes.