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 …