Winamax

Julien Sitbon, AKA ifyourgood

 

Julien SitbonOver the past decade, he has established himself as one of the best French poker players on the live international scene. A regular at final tables, winning more often than losing, and a WSOP bracelet winner as of the summer of 2023, the Parisian has all the characteristics of an ideal Team Pro: ambition, a heterodox, yet highly efficient style, charisma to spare, and an eclectic lifestyle. But of one thing you can be sure: the Parisian's best years are yet to come...

Amongst the top poker players, there are those who achieved success by being patient, over the long term with much trial and error. Then, there are those who found success in their first games, which is seemingly the case with Julien Sitbon. Introduced to poker in 2010 at home games with friends, the Parisian seemed to be a natural: ‘I won every single time!’, he said smiling, thinking back on his first games as a recreational player.

This was all the motivation he needed to move on to the next step by pushing open the door to one of Paris’ gambling clubs, where he played his first serious games. Once again, he got some more unexpected results. ‘My first tournament was a Wagram’, he recalls. ‘I played a €100 satellite for their monthly €1,000 tournament. I qualified. Then, I made the final table. We made a deal at 5 left. So I won €10,000 at my first big tournament. So I obviously thought poker was brilliant.’

Already sitting in the driver's seat, Julien stepped on the gas: over the following years, he became a familiar face in the Paris poker scene. Without ever firing up a table online (an anomaly for players of his generation), he quickly climbed the ladder and started filling up his trophy case with victories in Paris (Aviation Club de France, Cercle Clichy-Montmartre), Cannes (Unibet Open) and in Italy. He specialises in live poker, where he can hold cards and chips in his hand and look his opponents in the eye.

Enough for him to go pro? Not so fast. This is 2016, and Julien Sitbon already had a full schedule. He was an actor and model, living off calls from casting agencies, still far from thinking of turning his passion into a real career. ‘My main goal at this time was to avoid losing’, he explains today. ‘I wanted to maintain control.’ That changed in 2017. Because all Julien did this year was ‘win, win, win. Specifically, he made 11 live final tables, winning three of them and netting six figures in profit. Inevitably, the question of whether to go pro or not became more pressing.

He made his decision: off to London to try to live 100% from poker. ‘Might as well go for it! My girlfriend pushed me to always do things 100%. I got a mental coach, and 2018 went really well for me.’ Indeed it did. 2018 would play out like 2017... only better: first EPT cash, first High Roller win, first WSOP Circuit ring, first WSOP final table... But after just two years as a poker pro, Julien jack-of-all-trades was already pursuing new horizons. 2019: off to the end of the world. Literally. ‘I went to Australia with my girlfriend. Even if I played a couple tournaments in Sydney and Melbourne, my primary goal was to take a holiday before really giving poker my all in 2020.’

The pandemic threw a wrench in this project. If he wanted to keep going, Julien only had one option left. For the first time in his career, he gave online poker a proper go. ‘I worked on my game for a year and a half. I was confronted with millions of situations. I played high stakes to face off versus the best and learn from them. I ended up losing money. I told myself it was the price of my training.’ Julien finished 2020 just barely in the green. Not bad for someone who had never really been a ‘grinder’. ‘It was a massive victory for me. I learnt so much. I feel comfortable playing online now. And when I see online players at the live tables, I understand what they're doing.’

While Julien is now able to comfortably navigate this world that was previously completely unknown to him, he admits there were a few bumps along the way. ‘I’d have never thought you swing so much playing online! It seemed unbelievable to lose so much in such a short amount of time because I rarely left a live festival in the red.

2022: live poker was back in full swing around the world, and Julien Sitbon was an even bigger shark when he returned to the waters. His results speak for themselves: a High Roller win for €80,000 in Paris in February, second place for €50,000 not even a week later, two big EPT side events, Monaco in May and Barcelona in August, then back to Paris for another High Roller. In Julien's magical 2022, the best was yet to come with an indelible win in autumn one of the most venerable tournaments on the European circuit, the Amsterdam Master Classics.

The €240,000 he won in the Netherlands represented Julien's first six-figure score. Not an insignificant payday for him. ‘I’d been chasing this for ten years. People couldn't believe it when I told them! I think I had a subconscious mental block even if I didn't play many tournaments with over €100,000 up for grabs. But with Amsterdam, I was set for the year. At the final table, I was mainly thinking about picking my spots, enjoying myself. Plus, it was a totally Dutch rail, with me being a complete outsider. But I was fine with that. When you know the path to victory, you know you can do it again. When I saw how much I'd won, I thought, “Here we go, I’m good.”’

After the confirmation, Julien Sitbon was ready for consecration. And what a better stage than Las Vegas and the World Series of Poker, the traditional home of poker world champions. Over the course of two weeks, Julien came close to winning a bracelet on two occasions. First in the $3,000 6-max (5th out of 1,200 for a $125,000 score), then the $3,000 Freezeout (2nd out of 1,600 for $420,000). Ironically, it was online, the battlefield that he had neglected for so long, where he officially joined the bracelet holders club, at the end of a $2,000 tournament on his phone, all while zigzagging in a car around Las Vegas between lost connections and low-battery warnings. A scenario worthy of an American thriller.

It was the next logical step’, he said, looking forward to 2023. A paradoxical year because ‘it was my best year financially speaking... even though I didn't win a live title.’ Almost an understatement for a player who amassed nearly 250 cashes (with 96 of them being final tables!) at the moment when he joined Team Winamax in October 2023. This all makes him one of France's most frequent winners in the past ten years.

Though the results are there, it is not easy to balance a nomadic lifestyle with a stable personal life. An essential combination according to Julien, who has been in a relationship for nine years. ‘I have a balanced life. That’s why I’m successful at poker. It's tough putting up regular results all while trying to live a normal life in London. I travel a lot. But my girlfriend knew that to succeed, I had to go all out.’ Between two series, Julien has held onto a few hobbies. ‘I still like cinema. I go as much as I can. I've played football for 30 years. It’s also vital. But I broke my ankle, and it's difficult to find a club when you are always roaming around... Aside from that, it's important to continue travelling for fun. I spent a week on a catamaran in the Bahamas. I went on a Safari in Tanzania... When there's a gorilla in front of you, you’re not thinking about 3-bet sizing. It helps put things into perspective when you're back at the table!’

Now that he is on Team Winamax, Julien plans on playing exotic variants more often at the next WSOP... all while keeping his revamped ambitions in his favourite variant, No-Limit Hold’em. After being well established for years at the $2,000 and $5,000 tournaments, he's not against diving in High Roller waters once in a while. A world apart, of course... but he is no longer a stranger to that. ‘The important thing when trying to exploit the others is to always try to understand what they're doing, then adapt. You have to evolve in poker. The pros today do stuff that recreational players did five years ago that everyone turned their noses up at. To me, each player brings something different to the table. You have to keep everyone's game in mind. It's very important.’

These days, if you want to make progress in poker, it is always better to be surrounded by the right people. Other pros on the circuit may be opponents, but they are also colleagues. ‘I've discussed a lot with other players. I’m lucky that my memory is good. I’m able to understand and remember the hands we discuss pretty quickly, so I can use them later when that situation comes up again at the table.’ In a game as ever-changing as poker, where the possibilities are infinite, we never stop learning and changing. ‘I have to work on everything. That’s for sure. And I can learn from everyone. I think I’m capable of doing anything and everything on the felt.’

When he’s not going after his next title on the professional circuit, you can find Julien Sitbon on Winamax under his screen name ‘ifyourgood’.

Lien Instagram

 

  •     Live tournament accomplishments

     07/2023 WSOP - Freezeout Championship $2,000 - Online Winner ($176,348)
     06/2023 WSOP - Event 59 : Freezeout $3,000 - Las Vegas 2th ($417,338)
     06/2023 WSOP - Event 32 : 6-max $3,000 - Las Vegas 5th ($123,992)
     11/2022 Amsterdam Master Classics - Main Event €3,000 Winner ($237,808)
     11/2022 WSOP Europe - Event 10 : 8-game Mix €2,000 - Rozvadov 4th (€15,299)
     10/2022 APO Super High Roller €5,000 - Paris Winner (€45,500)
     08/2022 EPT - Side Event Hyper Turbo KO €2,100 - Barcelone Winner (€46,800)
     05/2022 EOT - Side Event €2,200 - Monte Carlo Winner (€81,640)
     04/2022 UKIPT - Main Event £1,100 - Londres 6th (£24,242)
     02/2022 APO Super High Roller €5,000 - Paris 2th (€49,984)
     02/2022 APO High Roller €3,000 - Paris Winner (€81,136)
     10/2021 Montmartre Poker Series - Opener €400 - Paris Winner (€22,405)
     09/2020 Le €500 du Mercredi - Club Barrière - Paris Winner (€8,795)
     01/2020 L'Oyssée €3,000 - Club Barrière - Paris Winner (€46,530)
     01/2020 Aussie Millions - Side Event H.O.R.S.E. A$2,500 - Melbourne 2th (A$27,000)
     06/2019 Wynn Summer Classic - NLHE $1,100 - Las Vegas Winner ($62,000)
     01/2019 Aussie Millions - Side Event NLHE A$2,500 - Melbourne 3th (A$65,815)
     11/2018 Belgian Poker Challenge - High Roller Championship €2,200 - Namur 3th (€21,360)
     11/2018 GUKPT - Main Event £2,140 - Londres 4th (£46,800)
     10/2018 WSOP Europe - Event #6 : Mixed PLO/NLHE €1,650 - Rozvadov 4th (€25,618)
     03/2018 WSOP Circuit - High Roller €2,500 - Cannes Winner (€52,456)
     02/2018 Unibet Open - High Roller £2,200 - Londres Winner (£41,850)
     10/2017 France Poker Open - Main Event €600 - St-Amand-les-Eaux Winner (€31,157)
     10/2017 TexaPoker Series - High Roller €2,000 - Cannes Winner (€21,300)
     11/2017 EPT - Open €220 - Barcelone Winner (€38,750)
     11/2016 WSOP Circuit - High Roller €2,500 - Paris 4th (€51,500)
     09/2015 Unibet Open - Main Event €1,100 - Cannes Winner (€80,000)
     08/2014 Deepstack €200 - Aviation Club de France - Paris Winner (€3,590)
     03/2014 Le Very Deep €225 - Cercle Clichy Montmartre - Paris Winner (€8,500)
     11/2013 Hold'em Series Main Event €2,000 - Aviation Club de France - Paris Winner (€33,840)
     03/2013 NLHE €500 - Aviation Club de France - Paris Winner (€8,150)
     11/2012 NLHE €500 - Aviation Club de France - Paris Winner (€9,900)

     

  •      Tournament accomplishments on Winamax

    09/2022 Battle Royale - €200 3th (€4,292)
    01/2022 Winamax Series - PLO KO Championship - €250 Winner (€11,699)
    01/2022 Battle Royale - €200 Winner (€8,652)
    02/2021 Highroller - €250 2th (€7,411)
    02/2021 Go Fast - €50 2th (€1,663)
    01/2021 Winamax Series - PLO5 Championship - €250 2e (€6,323)
    01/2021 Purple - €500 4th (€7,218)
    12/2020 XTREM - €100 2th (€2,053)
    12/2020 Battle Royale - €200 2th (€3,666)
    11/2020 Pokus - Highroller KO - €250 2th (€26,035)
    09/2020 Highroller - €250 3th (€8,155)
    09/2020 Winamax Series - Marathon Championship - €250 6th (€7,113)
    04/2020 Highroller - €250 3th (€6,480)
    04/2020 Winamax Series - Zone 30 Championship - €250 3th (€5,054)
    12/2017 XTASE - €100 3th (€1,923)
    03/2017 XTASE - €100 3th (€1,870)

     

 

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