This Emerging Poker Star is the Latest Addition to PokerStars Team Pro

This Emerging Poker Star is the Latest Addition to PokerStars Team Pro

Following the departure of Kalidou Sow in 2021, there had been no French representation amongst the PokerStars Team Pro roster. As a nation, France is poker crazy and has produced some of the biggest names in the industry, such as Bertrand Grospellier and Antoine Saout, so it has been quite the surprise to see the "tricolore" omitted from the spadie brand over the last few years.

However, at the 2024 European Poker Tour stop in Paris, PokerStars' search for the face for their French expansion finally ended with Simon Wiciak being unveiled as the latest addition to the Team Pro team.

Wiciak, best known for his EPT Barcelona Main Event triumph in 2023, sat down with the PokerNews team to look back on his memorable EPT run and what it's like to put on the coveted Team Pro patch.

Q&A with Wiciak

Simon, being the first French player to join Team Pro PokerStars since 2021, what were your emotions when PokerStars reached out to offer you a contract?

"It's really nice to have a brand like PokerStars want you,"

"It felt validating, confirmed. Winning often brings the sentiment, 'A victory is not just a victory; it's everything that comes with it,' But after my win in Barcelona, I had nothing more to show for it. So I thought, Oh well, I'll have to prove myself again; a single victory is not enough.' I continued to play at PokerStars events, and after some cashes in Cyprus, that's when they started talking to me.

"It's really nice to have a brand like PokerStars want you; it says, 'Here's a player we want to work with." It makes me feel proud. I was honored, especially since there hadn't been a Team Pro in France for a long time."

Was becoming a sponsored player a goal or even a dream for you?

"Dreams come true much faster than we think if we do things right."

"Calling it a goal might be too ambitious because having the goal of winning an EPT and getting a contract is complicated. But it's a dream.

"There are many other players who deserve sponsorship but didn't have the necessary victory or something else at some point. I had that, and I knew I had a personality that could come across well. And if your personality is good, it pays off. It all started when, after my victory in Barcelona, Benny (PokerStars French streamer) came to see me. I told him, "Come have a drink with us," even though I didn't know him well. And it started from there. Dreams come true much faster than we think if we do things right."

Your victory at the EPT Barcelona must have had a significant impact. Besides the contract, what has changed for you since this success?

"I even had someone ask me to sign a playing card!"

"Firstly, it took me some time to realize. I watched the stream again and again at home in different languages, enjoying reading comments to know people's opinions. I was happy to receive feedback like, 'You won, and you won well. You didn't steal it.' It was like a validation stamp.

"From that point on, you realize it gradually. You notice it in your bank account, of course, but also with validation from family and congratulations from poker players. It's others who make you realize. And at some point, when you're playing on your computer with the trophy beside you, you think, "Oh yes, I really won an EPT.

"As for the rest, what has changed is the respect from peers. It's nice to hear better players than you say, "Well played." The regular players continue to play against me normally, but they know who I am. But for the 80% of non-pros, I feel there's more excitement. People shake my hand and take photos. I even had someone ask me to sign a playing card!"

How are you approaching the upcoming year and the years ahead wearing the PokerStars patch?

"I've never streamed before, and it's something I really want to try,"

"I have only one desire: to have an amazing poker year. When you know you'll be playing much more live poker, you can't wait to get into it. Over the last few years, I was more 25% live poker and 75% online. This year, it's going to be the opposite with the EPT and the FPS circuit.

"So, a good part of my daily life is going to change, and so are my ambitions because in live poker, you play fewer tournaments but for a lot more money. So this year, I'd like to have deep runs again. I don't know how much Ill win, but I want to experience the same sensations I felt before. Of course, we start in Paris, so it would be great to get a good result at home.

"After that, we'll schedule some streams with Benny and Yu. I'll also do some spontaneously. I've never streamed before, and it's something I really want to try because I like talking to people. I think I'll enjoy it."

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Calum has been a part of the PokerNews team since September 2021 after working in the UK energy sector. He played his first hand of poker in 2017 and immediately fell in love with the game. Calum's proudest poker achievement is winning the only tournament he has ever played in Las Vegas, the prestigious $60 Flamingo evening event.


In this Series

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