The starting time for the tournament was 4 p.m., and in typical French fashion, at 9:30 p.m., there was a two-hour dinner break. Everyone piled into the fine dining area, where the very best “tournament” food in the world was served. I personally enjoyed the buffalo mozzarella with tomato appetizer, followed by a rack of lamb with perfectly cooked “al dente” fresh green beans. Then, a bowl of thousands of fresh cherries was placed at every table. The French are in no hurry when it is time to dine. Two hours later, play resumed.
The Paris tournament attracted world-class players from around the world, including the two previous champions, Christer Johannsson and David Benyamine. The lineup of international poker elite included WPT season two Player of the Year Erick Lindgren (USA), WPT Champion Martin De Knijff (Sweden), WPT Champion Barry Greenstein (USA), WPT Walk of Famer Gus Hansen (Denmark), two-time WPT winner Howard Lederer, Carlos Mortensen (Spain), Mel Judah (Australia), David “Devilfish” Ulliott (UK), and Daniel Negreanu (Canada).
Other top players included Card Player Publisher Barry Shulman (who stopped by on his honeymoon), T.J. Cloutier, John Juanda, Phil Ivey, Scotty Nguyen, Farzad “Freddy” Bonyadi, Sammy Farha, and 2004 World Series of Poker Champion Greg “Fossilman” Raymer.
Some of the most famous faces at the table were not poker stars. I was placed at a table mobbed by the paparazzi. As a matter of fact, in the middle of tournament play, some of the eager photographers asked players to move during a hand in order to get better pictures. I could not believe what I saw; players, all of whom had paid €10,000 to compete, obliged and moved out of the photographers’ way while they were in the middle of the hand!
The Famous Frenchman: Patrick Bruel
As it turned out, I was sitting with superstar actor/singer Patrick Bruel, oftentimes called the Brad Pitt of France. My Internet search revealed that his stardom has reached such heights that something in France exists much like “Beatlemania”; it is called “Bruelmania,” as young girls scream hysterically while proclaiming their love for the handsome star who has made 28 French films and two American films, and has recorded scores of wonderful, popular songs.
When I interviewed Bruel, he told me that he loves to play Poker Online Pkv Games in Las Vegas, that the Aviation Club is the best place in the world to play poker, and that the WPT has changed the face of poker forevermore, because poker is now considered an accepted sport.
When it was down to heads-up play between Tony G. and Surinder, with Tony G. having the chip lead, I asked Patrick what he thought of the match. He responded that Surinder is not only inventive, but is also one of the best players in the world.