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Poker in France

Introduction

Capital: Paris

Population: 66,990,000

Currency: Euro (€)

Timezone: UTC+0

Casinos with Poker

  • Casino de Monte Carlo
  • Monte Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort
  • Casino Le Lyon Vert
  • Paris Club Elysées

According to a theory, poker is derived from the French card game “poque”. French settlers brought the game with themselves to New France, the French territory in North America in the early 19th Century. From there, it spread to the United States where it eventually formed into the game of poker. So, some people believe that the French are actually the forefathers of poker.

There is one poker type with an undeniable French origin. Although rarely played, Courchevel – a 5-card Omaha game where the door card on the board is dealt pre-flop – is named after a ski resort in France. According to the urban legend, bored guests at that resort made up the new game which is played almost exclusively in French casinos.

One of the gambling capitals of Europe, Monte Carlo, is located in the city-state of Monaco, which is enclaved by France.

Also, France and its online gaming regulatory body, ARJEL (now known as ARJ), spearheaded the European liquidity deal signed by France, Spain, Portugal, and Italy in 2017.

Famous French Poker Players

Bernard “ElkY” Grospellier has had a very successful career in both live and online poker. He has one WSOP bracelet from 2011 (the $10K 7-Card Stud event), one World Poker Tour title, two WCOOP (World Championship of Online Poker) titles and one SCOOP (Spring Championship of Online Poker) championship. Overall, he has cashed $14.9 million in live tournaments combined and $2.012 million in online tournaments.

Benjamin Polak’s live tournament earnings is currently at $12.9 million, two million shy of ElkY’s. He finished third in the 2017 WSOP Main Event for $3.5 million. Also, he won the €50K NLHE event at the 2018 EPT Barcelona.

David Benyamine regularly appeared on NBC’s classic poker show Poker After Dark, playing against the biggest names in poker on camera. In 2008, he won the $10K Omaha Hi-Lo event at the World Series of Poker, which is his only gold bracelet to date.

– Playing Live Poker in France –

   Live Poker Legislation in France

Live casino gambling is legal in France, including poker games. Since June 2020, licencing and regulation of the gambling establishments in the country are handled by the National Gaming Authority (Autorité Nationale des Jeux, ANJ for short). It’s an independent administrative authority whose chairman is appointed by the President of France himself.

There’s around 200 casinos operating in the country. As for poker rooms per se, their number is around 120. 

 

  Live Poker Venues in France

As we wrote in our intro, Monte Carlo is technically an administrative area in the sovereign principality of Monaco. However, due to its strong historic and cultural ties to France, Monte Carlo and its gambling life will be discussed here.

The biggest casino in Monte Carlo, Casino de Monte-Carlo, actually doesn’t offer classic poker games to their patrons, only Ultimate Texas Hold’em – a version of the game in which you play against the house.

Where all the real high-profile poker action is happening in the city is the Monte Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort. European Poker Tour and PokerStars Championship events have been held there in the recent past. However, they do not host tournaments and cash games year-round.

Most major casinos don’t have consistent poker tournament schedules, rather they hold a few festivals a year.

Casino Le Lyon Vert in Lyon, for example, hosted the Unibet DeepStack Open and the French Poker Open 600 in 2019. The Unibet DSO had €120-€1,000 tourneys on their schedule, while the FPO 600 held €120-€1,200 events.

Paris Club Elysées in the capital city is one of the few places that runs No Limit Hold’em and Pot Limit Omaha cash tables on a constant basis. There’s no information available on the blinds – however, from the minimum buy-ins listed on their website, we can deduce some. The tables start at €250, €500 and €1,000 in chips at least. Most places don’t allow cash players to sit down with less than 50 BB’s, so the stakes are likely €2/5, €5/€10, and €10/€20.

One of the most famous gambling houses in France, the Aviation Club de France, sadly closed down after more than 100 years in business in 2014.

 

 

– Casinos and Poker Rooms in France –

Casino de Monte Carlo

Monte Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort

Casino Le Lyon Vert

Paris Club Elysées

  Online Poker Legislation in France

Online poker, unlike online casino games, is legal in France and is regulated by ARJ (Autorité Nationale des Jeux), formerly known as ARJEL.

All the biggest online poker rooms – PokerStars, partypoker, etc. – are available for French citizens to play on. Winamax Poker is a popular French online poker room.

The aforementioned ARJEL was the one who dreamt up and spearheaded the European Poker Liquidity Deal in 2017. France, Spain, Portugal, and Italy signed an agreement to share their player pools in the future. As of now, Spanish, Portuguese, and French players can play against each other on the same servers – however, Italy is still lagging behind with the implementation of the deal.