Say hello to the newest poker ambassador... ELkY! The timing of ElkY's announcement is near-perfect with the launch of partypoker.eu on the horizon. partypoker is seizing the opportunity to gain an advantage of the inevitable shared liquidity deal between France, Spain, Italy, and Portugal. For now, it will be a shared player pool between France and Spain, while waiting for regulators in Italy to get their proverbial crap together.
After stepping away from PokerStars at the start of the new year, ElkY was arguably one of more coveted unsigned pros out there. If I were talking about American professional sports teams, ElkY would be the top of the "free agent class." And it didn't take too long before someone snatched up ElkY.
ElkY is the all-time money leader in France with over $13 million in winnings. ElkY banked at least $2 million online too.
Although ElkY and Winamax, the top online poker site in France, seemed like an inevitable coupling, ElkY migrated to partypoker. One insider suggested that whomever ElkY signed with was going to have a difficult time fighting the "ghost of PokerStars ElkY," since ElkY and PokerStars have gone hand-in-hand for nearly a decade. It was impossible to think of one entity without conjuring up the other.
The ElkY/PokerStars marriage is a thing of the past. ElkY has a new significant other now and partypoker seems like a perfect fit.
What is PokerStars' loss is now partypoker's gain. That seems to be a theme over the last year or so, particularly with the success of the partypoker LIVE circuit and the partypoker LIVE MILLIONS events. Heck, just last night in Barcelona, partypoker awarded three payouts in excess of €1 million (when Pascal Lefrancois binked €1.7M, with second place winnings €1.3M and third getting a cool million). It's rare to see more than one seven-figure payout in a 10K event, let along three.
At the start of the calendar year, several high-profile pros parted ways with PokerStars. That list included Jason Mercier, Vanessa Selbst, Felipe Ramos, and ElkY. In ElkY's goodbye announcement, he didn't pull punches about his real feelings about how PokerStars' attitude shifted in the last few years (after the company was acquired by Amaya). Once PokerStars went full-blown corporate, the bottom-line became the primary focus versus building a brand and expanding poker. ElkY got lost in the shuffle, which was a shame because of ElkY's reach in both the poker world and the esports/gaming realm.
ElkY kicked off his statement with a not-so-subtle jab and residual shade directed at his former sponsorship partner. "It is very refreshing to be in touch with a company which prioritizes the wellbeing of the game and its community," ElkY said in his statement.
It is very refreshing to be in touch with a company which prioritizes the wellbeing of the game and its community. I am very excited about being able to be closely and actively involved in the renewal of PartyPoker is bringing to the poker world, LIVE and online.
Our aim is to become the reference in both, and I am confident with PartyPoker expertise and ambition it is an achievable goal in the foreseeable future.
ElkY finished his brief statement by asking the community to reach out and share their opinions. "The support of the community would be of paramount importance, so if you have any comment regarding any aspect of it, please do reach out, because in the end, the poker universe we want to build is for the players."
Tom Waters, the Managing Director for partypoker added, "We are delighted that ElkY is joining us at partypoker. ElkY has a fantastic profile and has great experience both in France and across the world and this makes him a perfect ambassador for us ahead of the shared liquidity launch. We will be looking to translate recent successes we have seen in our dotcom market to the new .eu market and ElkY will be instrumental in helping us to achieve our goals."
In the last year or so, partypoker has been aggressively signing up pros in the high-stakes community along with top tournament players such as Ike Haxton, Jason Koon, Kristen Bicknell, and Johnny Lodden. The addition of ElkY makes sense. It makes great business sense.
ElkY is one of the few people on the planet who do not have to use their given names. Madonna, Ronaldo, Bono, ElkY. If that's not an indication of quantum branding power, I dunno what is.
"Bertrand Grospellier joins partypoker" isn't exactly one of those eye-popping headlines. However, "ElkY joins partypoker" is something that would definitely make heads spin. After all, he's one of the most popular game wizards on the planet. If it's video games or poker, ElkY is gonna destroy you.