ElkY. With 7.6 billion people on Earth, only a handful of humans can operate with only one name. Everyone knows the celebs who achieved mononymous status... Madonna, Pele, Prince, Slash, Bono, and Moby. And then there's ElkY. Don't forget the capital Y. Why ElkY? It was his moniker in his former gaming life. While the gambling world celebrated the rise of online poker as Chris Moneymaker helped usher in the poker boom in 2003, ElkY was already a bona fide rockstar in Korea. In gaming circles, the French teenager was crushing his opponents in Starcraft and Warcraft before we ever heard about Chris Moneymaker.
After almost 12 years as a sponsored pro, ElkY and PokerStars will no longer be Team Pro. In a statement he posted on Twitter, ElkY said: "After 11.5 years of a great partnership, it's time to move on for PokerStars and I… No hard feeling. Team Pro used to be a core of their strategy, but it became evident that this was not the case anymore during the last few years. I respect that. On my side, I am happy to have been involved - except for the last few years unfortunately - on how PokerStars can offer the best poker experience and improve players (sic) satisfaction."
Elky ended his brief statement with: "I am now content and eager to start a new and exciting challenge."
ElkY's departure not surprising considering the recent trend. ElkY is the fourth major Team Pro who walked away from PokerStars after an extensive relationship. American pros Vanessa Selbst and Jason Mercier also chose not to extend their contracts for the 2018 calendar year. Brazilian pro and popular social media scholar Felipe Ramos also ended his tenure as Team pro. Ramos was the top-ranked player in South America when he walked.
ElkY won the Triple Crown with victories on three major tours: WPT, EPT, and WSOP. ElkY achieved his Triple Crown in less than 3.5 years start to finish (January 2008 to June 2011). 2008 was a banner year for ElkY and he shipped titles on the EPT and WPT. Time flies, eh? It was ten years ago when ElkY binked the 2008 PCA in the Bahamas for a payday worth $2 million. That sick score would be the start of a heck of run for ElkY. Later that October, ElkY won the WPT Festa a Lago for a $1.4 million score. ElkY defeated Nam Le heads-up for the title at a final table that also included Nenad Medic and Adam Levy.
In 2011, ElkY finally won his first-ever WSOP bracelet. ElkY took down the $10K Stud event for $333K. ElkY outlasted a tough-as-balls Stud field of 126 runners and defeated Steve Landfish heads-up for the title. That Stud bracelet would be his only WSOP victory in six WSOP final tables. The WSOP win locked up a Triple Crown for ElkY.
As of today, ElkY is currently ranked 29th all-time in overall earnings. Only five other Europeans won more money in tournaments than ElkY.
Elky's biggest cash to date occurred last summer at the 2017 WSOP. ElkY was the runner-up in the $111,111 buy-in One Drop and earned $2.27 million for second place. Doug Polk beat ElkY heads-up for the bracelet.
On the virtual felt at PokerStars, ElkY shipped three COOPs. He won a pair of WCOOP bracelets back in September 2009. In the Spring of 2011, ElkY won his first SCOOP title. ElkY was the first player to achieve Supernova status on PokerStars, which he accelerated by playing an insane number of simultaneous SNGs.
ElkY set a Guinness World Record for most SNGs at one time. So sick! I still don't know how a human can do that... and win at the same time. That was the first time I started to thing... maybe ElkY is an alien?
After almost a decade away from the gaming world (which had been rebranded as "esports"), Elky jumped back into the mix much to the delight of his former fans. ElkY joined Team Liquid as one of their sponsored Hearthstone pros. Don't forget, ElkY achieved rockstar status in Korea. In gaming hotspots throughout Asia, ElkY is more famous as Prince, Madonna, and Bono combined.
ElkY was well-versed in the digital age. His Twitch feed (@ElkY) is highly popular for both poker and gamers alike. ElkY regularly streams his Hearthstone sessions. Although my French is tres mauvais merde, I heard that ElkY's commentary on his poker Twitch is both educational and top-notch entertainment.
ElkY's Instagram feed (@elkypoker) is the stuff that dreams are made of... amazing food, luxurious hotels, cool travel destinations, loving wife, and of course his card cappers!
ElkY curates an eclectic array of deadmau5 card cappers. ElkY is a fan of electronic music. When he played deadamu5 in the background during his Twitch poker sessions, it became an insta-hit with his streaming audience. If he wasn't playing, ElkY's Twitch rail would spam deadmau5 emojis in the chat until he changed the music.
The inside joke with ElkY's fans sorta snowballed into a vast array of deadmau5 merch he began collecting, including card cappers. The deadmau5 spilled over into the live poker world and ElkY carried a different deadmau5 card protector with him on the poker circuit. The big-eared mouse would pop up in Macau, the Bahamas, London, Las Vegas...and anywhere ElkY played live poker.
What's next for ElkY? Will he focus on esports full time? Or will ElkY get sponsored by Winamax or partypoker? Winamax seems logical since he's the most successful poker player in the history of French poker. Could be a major marketing coup because France now has shared liquidity with Spain and awaiting for Portugal and Italy to join their shared player pool.
Meanwhile, partypoker has been aggressively adding high-end talent to their growing stable of sponsored pros. Some of their high-caliber additions included Fedor Holz, Jason Koon, and Kristen Bicknell. Just this past week, Team partypoker signed Ike Haxton. Will ElkY be next? Or will we see a big red W on his chest the next time we see him? Stay tuned to find out the next chapter in the life of ElkY.
Watch the Top 5 ElkY Moments clips video below...