This is his story. Franck* is a poker player. He's been scouring the cash-game tables of the Parisian gaming circles for over 25 years. And even though they're now called gaming clubs, he's having a hard time letting go of his language habits.
After 40 years of loyal service at his small business on Rue des Pyrénées in the 20th district of Paris, Franck handed the reins to his son a few years ago. At the time, he liked to go play poker to relax and break away from the habits of a very conventional daily life. "Twice a week on average," he says, his eyes full of memories. Nobody played in his family. It was a friend of his, Patrick*, who first brought him into a gaming circle. That was in the early 1990s.
He discovered Texas Hold'em a few years later, at the Aviation Club de France and its 1,000 franc tournaments. A passion was born. "I even bought books, even though I'd never read one in my life," he jokes. The strategic aspect of the game fascinated him, the psychological aspect even more so. The years went by and Franck had his habits, but remained fascinated by the wealth of these gaming establishments. "They're great places, a real sociocultural melting pot. They're more than casinos or gaming clubs, they're places to meet, to live."
"MORE HANDS, MORE ACTION"
Mazagan Beach Resort, a few miles from Casablanca in Morocco. Franck qualified for a poker tournament through an online gaming site. Four of a kind versus straight flush: the experience was short-lived. While waiting for his friends who were still playing, he went around the casino. He was looking for a roulette wheel or a slot machine, the only other games he knew. When he walked into a large room dedicated to traditional games, he saw someone he knew from Paris sitting at an Ultimate Poker table.
Franck stayed at the table for around 20 minutes and observed every move of the players and the dealer. He also took the opportunity to ask his acquaintance some questions. He was immediately won over by the speed of the game and the adrenaline that comes with it. He was seduced. "I love the pace of an Ultimate game. In cash games and tournaments, you can sometimes spend a long time waiting for a decent hand to play. There, you can play any hand, and each move lasts 90 seconds."
Since then, it was love at first sight. But he would have to wait until 2018 to see his new favorite game reach Paris, thanks to the new legislation on authorized games in the capital and the new regulations of what were now known as gaming clubs. Before that, he visited French and European casinos to rediscover the gambling sensations that No Limit no longer offered him.
"LIKE A HEADS-UP AGAINST SOMEONE WHO PLAYS EVERY HAND WITHOUT LOOKING AT THEIR CARDS"
Today in Paris, he gives it his all. Full house, four of a kind, straight flush, Franck has already experienced the joy of most of the best poker hands. He's missing just one, the most beautiful of all: royal flush. "I won't retire until I get it!" We'll take his word for it. The bonuses are the gems of these gold diggers. Up to 500 times the bet.
Aside from the adrenaline generated by the frenzied pace of these games, Franck likes how easy it is to learn the game. "It's an easy version of No Limit, against a single opponent (the bank) who plays every hand blind," he says when asked to describe the game in a few words.
He feels that his background as a poker player gives him a clear advantage in his quest to beat the bank. "I know when to bet and I know when to fold," he tells us, confidently. Franck explains that he feels more comfortable at Ultimate Poker.
"The advantage of Ultimate is that you control your losses. In the worst case, I can lose the equivalent of 6-7 blinds in one hand, unlike in No Limit, where everyone has lost 200 or more blinds in a single hand."
His phone vibrates, it's his friend Patrick. He tells him to meet him at the Club's restaurant. Over the past 25 years, Franck has met lots of new people and made some great friends. In fact, he mischievously explains that in Ultimate, players play "together against the bank, not against each other".
Franck bids us farewell. It's time for him to get back to his favorite game. We met Franck at Club Pierre Charron, where he says he likes the professionalism of the team and the chef's cooking. A big thank you to him for sharing his passions. Yesterday poker, today Ultimate. What will tomorrow bring?
And even though the bank always wins in the end, Franck will be eternally rich from his friends and their stories. His story.
* The players' first names have been changed to protect their anonymity.