Bertrand Grospellier’s bleached-blond hair used to be a regular sight at the final table of a major poker tournament.
After a four-year drought, “ElkY” was back in the spotlight Monday.
Grospellier finished second in the World Series of Poker’s $111,111 buy-in High Roller for One Drop No-limit Hold’em tournament. Doug Polk won at the Rio Convention Center to claim the $3.69 million first prize, while the popular Frenchman netted $2.28 million for second.
“I don’t have anything to prove, but I just want to play my best and it’s definitely nice because I have a lot of fans and they’re really happy and excited to see me so far,” Grospellier said after play concluded Sunday night. “It’s definitely a good feeling as well, but I’m not trying to think about it as much because I’m focusing on my game.”
Grospellier first rose to prominence as a professional gamer in South Korea from 2001 to 2004 before turning his focus to poker.
After winning events on the European Poker Tour and World Poker Tour, Grospellier took down the WSOP’s $10,000 buy-in Seven-Card Stud Championship in 2011 to complete poker’s Triple Crown.
Grospellier is France’s leading money winner with more than $11 million in live tournament earnings, according to the Hendon Mob Poker Database.
But in recent years, “ElkY” has focused on streaming online poker and “Hearthstone” on Twitch, and reduced his schedule of live poker tournaments.
Prior to his run in the High Roller for One Drop, Grospellier’s last six-figure score came in 2013 when he finished fourth at a tournament in Macau for more than $166,000.
“The last few years, maybe I’ve been a little bit more distracted sometimes and not focusing on playing my best poker,” Grospellier said. “If you don’t play too many tournaments, the variance can be kind of rough. But this year, I’ve been playing a lot.”
Grospellier was 13th at the PokerStars Championship event in March in Macau, then finished 12th in April’s PokerStars Championship Main Event in Monte Carlo.
Last month, “ElkY” went out in 13th place at the PokerStars Championship Main Event in Sochi, Russia.
“He’s due,” said Doug Polk, who also made the final table of the High Roller for One Drop.
Grospellier, 36, survived an up-and-down Day 2 of the High Roller for One Drop and took over the chip lead at the end of play Saturday with the most memorable hand of the tournament.
Grospellier bluffed Phil Hellmuth with only a straight draw and forced the 14-time WSOP bracelet winner to fold his three queens.
“I’ve played with Phil for many years,” Grospellier said. “For like the first five years, he called me an idiot because he didn’t know me, and then I got some more respect. And I think I blew it up all (Saturday).”
Contact David Schoen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-5203. Follow @DavidSchoenLVRJ on Twitter.