Frenchman Fabrice Soulier Wins WSOP Bracelet

June 27, 2011

The US has brought home quite a few WSOP bracelets this year, but another country who came to win is France. So far, the French force has won three bracelets this year, the third title taken by Fabrice Soulier in Event #37, the $10,000 HORSE Championship for which he won more than $600K for h is first place win. Bertrand Grospellier and Elie Payon are also French bracelet winners this year.

It’s been a long road for Soulier, who first played in the WSOP in 2000 and has won his first bracelet only this year, but the wait made it all the more sweet for his French fans watching on the sidelines when he won his bracelet Friday afternoon at an unscheduled fourth-day final table. It finally came down to Soulier and Canada’s Shawn Buchanan, but alas, Soulier’s two pair was enough to win the final pot of the tournament. Finishing fifth was Tom Dwan.

After winning the WSOP bracelet, Soulier said, “I feel very emotional right now. I almost cried when I won. I had to hold back my tears. I feel great. This is the best day of my poker career, by far.”

Soulier is a 42-year-old poker pro who can speak both French and English and is a fan of cinema, favoring directors Ingmar Bergman, Stanley Kubrick, and Martin Scorcese. Before he went pro poker, he actually worked in television and film as a director’s assistant. Later he directed TV shows, many that were quite popular in his country and won awards in France. He eventually grew bored of working in TV and took a liking to poker. It didn’t take long for him to become one of the most successful players in France. He comes from the Aviation Club, the most famous poker room in Paris. He now lives in Las Vegas after moving from France a few years back.

Though Soulier has always managed to cash at least once in the WSOP every year he’s been, this is his first bracelet. In addition to his one win, he’s got six final table appearances and 18 cash finishes in WSOP histories. In total, he’s won more than $1.1 million in WSOP earnings alone.

In keeping with a growing trend, particularly with players from other countries, Soulier was cheered on by a ban of French fans singing songs and making for a positive and festive environment that brought him across the finish line.

In live tournament winnings, Soulier is almost at the $4 million mark, his first big win being at the 2001 Euro Finals of Poker. In all, he has 10 major tourney win in the last 10 years.

In all the years of the WSOP, there have been seven French winners. These include Soulier, Grospellier, and Payan, along with Patrick Bruel, David Benyamine, Gilbert Gross, and Vanessa Hellebuyck. On 2011 being France’s big year at the WSOP, Soulier says, “I hope it is.  We have a lot of good players now, and more and more are coming.  Some of them we do not even know yet.  But they are very good.  I think this is the start of France being a big nation for poker.”

He also spoke on other poker players who he respects: “There are plenty of them. It’s hard for me to name any without forgetting some. In France, it’s Elky (Grospellier), David (Benyamine), Nicholas, Luc, and others. I also play with John Juanda, Allen Cunningham, and these are all gentlemen. I wish I could look like them at the poker table. They are all so great, and I admire all of them.”

Soulier says he meditates to get his mind right for playing poker. He says, “I am very emotional as a player. It is very demanding for me. I have to control myself and work on this part of my game. In this tournament, I did pretty well. I went to yoga many times. I did meditation. It cooled me down a little bit and maybe it allowed me to win today.”


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