The Aviation Club, the cardroom that became the hub of European poker in the mid nineties and went on to put the WPT on the map as a truly international tour, has been put out of business by the French authorities. I don’t know why but the smart guys think they may have been too close to Sarkozy. Whether that pissed off the left or the right, most is anyone’s guess. I’d have a few quid on the tie.
Whatever the reason over 200 people lost their jobs and that’s not cool. There is a myth that foreigners never get a fair deal in Paris. That’s simply not true. Except maybe the English. And the Americans of course.
The ACF staff were very kind and fair to me anyway. Except for one guy who specialised in home town decisions, but at least he was consistent. One night an English guy complained to Bruno about this guy in an aggrieved tone that only the English have mastered and nearly fainted when Bruno shrugged and agreed with him. That was the end of that conversation.
In the early days, Irish player Jerry Jones hopped over to Paris for a weeks poker. The first night he was in town, two of us were in the bar waiting for him to finish playing. The bartender told us that the French Porn Industry awards were taking place in the Lido up the street and that the porn stars had block booked the club restaurant for a late dinner. After Jonesy arrived and was on his second beer, they arrived and paraded through the bar.
The dress code, especially for the girls, was apparently somewhere between very very little and practically nothing. Jonesy nearly fell off his stool. We couldn’t help ourselves and just had to tell him this happened every night. The Irish can be proper assholes when they put their minds to it!
Another wonderful ACF memory occurred when I was chatting to Don O’Dea while he was playing in the biggest game in the place. The table charges for this game were paid in black chips and it was good craic watching The Don pony up. There was value somewhere for sure!
Greek George from London was also in the game. After a while, he lost all his chips in a massive pot to a guy who even I could figure out got lucky on him. George, being a class act, took it very well and never said a word. This was definitely in breach of an unwritten club rule. In fact, all club rules were unwritten as far as I know.
Then, the waitress arrived with an Irish coffee that George had ordered. George thanked her and tipped her with his last fiver chip. The poor waitress was unaware that very generously the club was comping drinks for all players who were paying table charges in black chips so she told him he owed her more money. Not surprisingly, George lost it. So did The Don who cracked up laughing. I wanted to join in but, as a spectator, felt that would be impolite. To be fair Don was laughing enough for both of us.