Isabelle Mercier returns for another edition of Once Upon a Time when she recalls the first time she visited Paris. How fascinating is the French capital for a little girl from Quebec?
For many foreigners who have never been there, Paris sounds like a dream. We all know the images, even the clichés that are associated with the French capital. The art of living, culture, good food, great wine…
Meanwhile, for everyone who hasn’t been there yet, it’s easy to visualize an idyllic image and the perfect postcards sent to millions of people around the planet.
And the planet includes Victoriaville, this rather discreet little town in Quebec, Canada, where I had the pleasure of growing up.
So, what does Victoriaville has to do with Paris, you will ask me? The cards! It was indeed in “Victo” that I learned to play poker, at the age when we usually triumph over the latest adventures of Barbie and Ken.
Basically, I was under 10 when my uncle and my dad introduced me to the game of poker! You can read that story of my childhood here.
From Montreal to Paris
Ok, but let’s come back to Paris via … Montreal. In 1998, I attended bar school while being a dealer at the Montreal Casino.
I had to leave this croupier position when my 6-month law internship began, which is a prerequisite for becoming a member of the bar. I could easily skip bar school classes, but I couldn’t really work two jobs full-time nights in a casino and full-time days in a law firm!
Short story: the day I obtained my license to practice as a lawyer and a position within a very select portfolio manager, the most famous in North America actually, I decided to quit everything to go abroad to be a dealer!
My strategy was basic: I sent to anything that closely or remotely looked like a casino my CV with a very open mind. Macau, Barcelona, Las Vegas… I was ready to go almost anywhere. It was finally Paris that welcomed me and not just any Paris, Paris of the Champs-Élysées!
My real poker life thus began on Saturday, August 28, 1999, at 104 of the “most beautiful avenue in the world”. The old ones will remember that it was the address of the Aviation Club de France, the famous “ACF” where so many have played, where I have so many memories.
How it all started
It may as well start with the very first one, a meeting at midnight with the one I called “Mister Black Sunglasses” in my autobiography. It was my meeting with none other than Mr. Bruno Fitoussi, the one who imported poker to France, in other words, THE figure of French Hold’em.
I was just a young 24-year-old emigrant Padawan with lots of dreams in mind, a lot of ambition … and everything to learn.
Anyway, I don’t know why, but the other day while taking part in the RMC Poker Radio Show, and while speaking again with Fabrice Soulier also on the air, I took a wave of nostalgia in the face.
I thought about a whole bunch of stuff and in my head came a list of those magical moments.
What I am most nostalgic about:
- Crystal chandeliers, oak-paneled walls, and all the magical and classy decor of ACF.
- Endless discussions with rising poker stars of the day like David Benyamine and established legends like Devilfish.
- Shopping evenings on the Champs Elysées in shops open until midnight (yes, yes, that kind of phrase can be dreamed of during current confinements).
- The typical Parisian atmosphere of small brasseries on every street corner.
- Restaurants open 24 hours a day where we could drink between croupiers and players until the wee hours of the night, after days as exhausting as they were stimulating.
- From my apartment in rue de Richelieu, barely two minutes from the Jardin du Palais-Royal and the Louvres, which I did not take the time to visit, mea maxima culpa!
- A particular and memorable WPT tournament with a Mike Sexton at the controls and a game-drunk Tony G in Final Table, what a show!
We will always have Paris
I just found this tournament on YouTube, I’ll see it again. You can check it out too here below:
I’m going back to Paris for a tournament that takes me more than 15 years back … Long live the golden age of poker!
Meet me at the tables on CoinPoker to practice your skills and enjoy the action. Open yourself a CoinPoker account today.
Isabelle “No Mercy” Mercier
WPT Winner & OFC “Progressive” World Champion