With 21 events completed, 20 champions have claimed their first World Series of Poker bracelet and some of the "best without a bracelet" have rightfully earned their place among the rest of the WSOP champions. In Event 21, the $10,000 seven-card stud world championship, we can remove another name from the list, as Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier defeated a tough field of 126 players to capture WSOP gold and a $331,639 payday.
Entering Day 3 with 14 players remaining, Grospellier was among the chip leaders, but would find himself on the bottom looking up during the final table. After years of close calls and legendary WSOP blow-ups, it would seem that Grospellier was primed for another undesired result, but this time around, the Frenchman did everything possible to battle back and earn his first bracelet.
"One of the first World Series of Poker tournaments I played was back in 2005," he said. "I played in so many WSOP events and I never really came very close to a bracelet. My closest time was in 2007 when I made it to a final table [and finished ninth]. So, I have been waiting for this moment for like four or five years. I am really, really proud, especially because I go this in stud. It was the first time I played stud in a live [tournament]. So, it's really an amazing feeling."
Grospellier also becomes the fourth player in poker history to earn the Triple Crown: victories on the World Poker Tour, European Poker Tour and World Series of Poker. Jake Cody, champion of the $25,000 heads-up event, became the third player to accomplish the feat earlier in this WSOP.
The nickname of "ElkY" comes from his online alias. Not only has Grospellier excelled in online poker, but he's also been one of the top video game players in the world and previously specialized in "StarCraft." Regardless of where he plays poker, Grospellier has been heralded as one of the best in the world and was often found on ESPN's The Nuts poker rankings throughout much of 2009 and 2010. There's a strong chance that Grospellier will find his way back onto the list after his past two months on the circuit.
This year has proved to be one of Grospellier's best on the felt. He started off in January with a deep run at the PCA main event, then finished third at the LAPC $25,100 High Roller, won two high roller events (with buy-ins of 10,000 and 25,000 euros) at the EPT Grand Final in May and now has three WSOP cashes in just a few weeks.
On the other side of the coin is Steve Landfish, who had Grospellier clinging to life during heads-up play. Up 15 to 1 in chips, Landfish couldn't finish Grospellier off and would ultimately fall short of his first WSOP victory. This was Landfish's seventh WSOP cash and first final table.
As expected in the $10,000 event, the field was incredibly tough. A number of previous bracelet winners made the money including Men Nguyen (who won this event last year and finished in 10th this year), Nick Shulman, Jason Mercier, Ville Wahlbeck, Matt Hawrilenko and John Hennigan. The cash was also Nguyen's 71st of his career, second-best all-time behind Phil Hellmuth.
Alexander Kostritsyn and Chad Brown, who both can probably be found on many "best without a bracelet" lists, fell just short of WSOP gold and finished in fifth and sixth, respectively.
Other notable finishers included Chris Tryba (eighth), 2010 Bluff player of the year Sorel Mizzi (11th) and Matt Glantz (15th).
Below are the complete results of Event 21 at the 2011 World Series of Poker:
Event 21: Seven-card stud world championship
Prize pool: $1,184,400
Players in the money: 16
1. Bertrand Grospellier ($331,639)
2. Steve Landfish ($204,924)
3. Maxwell Troy ($128,341)
4. John Hennigan ($92,928)
5. Alexander Kostritsyn ($72,627)
6. Chad Brown ($57,917)
7. Kevin Tang ($47,032)
8. Chris Tryba ($38,812)
9. Nick Schulman ($32,488)
10. Men Nguyen ($32,488)
11. Sorel Mizzi ($27,643)
12. Christopher George ($27,643)
13. Ville Wahlbeck ($24,043)
14. Jason Mercier ($24,043)
15. Matt Glantz ($20,916)
16. Matt Hawrilenko ($20,916)