Like many other poker players Bertrand Grospellier -- ElkY as you may know him -- is a true gamer at heart.
One of the most successful poker pros of all time with $10.9m in live tournament earnings ElkY began his gaming career as a professional Starcraft player in Korea at the age of 20.
As if he didn't already have enough gaming passions, he recently started playing the latest online phenomenon Hearthstone.
We asked him a few questions about his new obsession.
How often do you play Hearthstone?
I’ve barely played for the last few weeks because I have been extremely busy but otherwise I tend to play three or four times a day, or more. It really depends.
Where do you find the resources to learn about Hearthstone and improve?
I use the player streams and I read a lot of strategy websites - mostly in English.
I’ve also installed a tracker to know what important cards you have left and how likely you are to draw them. For example, it tells you that you have a 10% chance of drawing a fireball because there’s only one left in a deck of 10 cards.
I used to calculate this myself but if you don’t pay attention for a second you can lose track.
Who are your favorite streamers?
StrifeCro and Kolento, even though I haven’t been watching them that much. I need to do it more.
I also need to watch Amaz since he’s apparently the best player out there.
How much do the best Hearthstone players win?
I haven’t really been following the tournaments but I know that they can earn quite a lot of money with their Twitch streams thanks to subscriptions, advertisement, etc.
I think it can even be their main activity and source of income. They earn a lot more money this way than with video game tournaments.
How’s your Twitch stream going? I saw that you just launched it. (Editor’s note: ElkY also broadcasts poker on there, which often turns out spectacularly as it did yesterday when he final tabled SCOOP #23-H and was gunning for $353k)
I’m not on Twitch for the money but I think that I have 5,600 followers on Twitch (Editor’s note: 15,650 since the interview).
There were 450 people watching me simultaneously during the final table of the Poker Sunday Special on PokerStars.
I really enjoy it and I think I’ll be doing more and more of it in the future.
Have you ever played Hearthstone against any other famous poker players?
Yes, I have played against Benny Spindler on the ladder for example.
You obviously know everything about Starcraft and its success. What do you think about the Hearthstone phenomenon? Does Hearthstone really have something more that other games don’t?
They’re comparable even though their respective universes are very different. Hearthstone is a bit more accessible to everyone and easier to familiarize yourself with.
Still, you have to find the right balance between simplicity and depth so that the game is easy enough to learn but also interesting.
Personally I think Hearthstone could benefit from being a little more complex, but each extension makes it better.
When did you start playing? After Naxxramas?
No, I’ve actually been playing since the beta version but it was very unstable, less interesting and there weren’t as many cards.
Since Naxxramas and Goblin vs Gnomes there are a lot more viable cards and games but also a lot more variance -- especially with the unstable portal and the Shredders.
What are your biggest achievements so far? Have you ever reached “legendary”?
No, I’ve been ranked 1 and finished 2 last month. In the arena I’ve reached the 12 victories at least 5 or 6 times.
It’s still a little unbalanced though, especially with the Paladins, Mages and Hunters.
What’s your favorite class?
Possibly Druid. At the moment I also play Rogue or Hunter. But basically anything but Priest.
What’s your favorite legendary card?
I like Jaraxxus. It might not be the most powerful but it’s definitely the funniest.
Do you have a favorite deck?
I usually like the mid-range ones but sometimes I play aggro. I rarely play with control decks.
Do you have any advice for Hearthstone beginners?
First of all, watch Trump’s videos. They’re linked on Blizzard’s website.
They’re well done and cover a lot of different concepts. It’s very important to take as many concepts as possible in consideration.
It’s a little bit like poker; you need to gather as much information as possible and analyze them before you take your decision.
Most of the time there aren’t that many decisions to make but you still have to act fast and keep on improving.
There’s also this website, HearthArena.com. It’s very helpful for arena drafts and you can find stats about the best cards to pick.
I often disagree with it but it’s still a great tool for beginners. It’s crucial to have a balanced deck. Especially in the arena.