Happenings in Paris

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I was in Paris, France, recently for the Grand Prix de Paris at the Aviation Club de France, which kicked off season three on the World Poker Tour. This event, which includes great tournament and side action combined with a vacation in Paris, draws a star-studded international field of many of the best poker players in the world.

Going to Paris is a fun time for me. I went a week prior to the championship event so that I could play some poker, which is something I don’t have much time to do anymore. I arrived on the day of the pot-limit Omaha tournament (a €3,000 buy-in event, which is about $3,600), ignored my jet lag, and signed up to play.

I managed to make it to the final table (eventually finishing sixth), but in getting to that final table, something happened that I hadn’t seen in more than 20 years of tournament poker. When things got down to two tables, it turned out that all of the players at one of the tables made it to the final table. This can be done because tables are balanced as players are eliminated. And what is really amazing is that with two tables left, the five shortest stacks were all at the table of players who made it to the final table!

That pot-limit Omaha tournament came down to Patrick Bruel from Paris and Ben Roberts from London, England. “Gentleman Ben” (a perfect handle if ever there was one) defeated Patrick to take the trophy. Ben Roberts is one of the most respected players in the game, both at and away from the table, so anytime he wins, it’s a popular victory. Let me add that a week later, Ben also made it to the final table of the WPT no-limit hold’em championship event (finishing fifth). Nice going, Ben!

A day prior to the championship event, a European Poker Hall of Fame no-limit hold’em tournament was played, and incredibly, it was won by this year’s inductee, Bruno Fitoussi of France. Bruno, was the third person ever to be inducted into the European Poker Hall of Fame. The two previous inductees were Donn O’Dea from Ireland and Surinder Sunar from England. This was a well-deserved honor for Bruno. He’s a terrific player, and no one has done more for European poker over the past 5-10 years than he has.

The WPT is off to another record-breaking season, as a full field of 205 players from all over the world put up €10,000 each (about $12,000) to play in the four-day championship event in Paris. That number is more than double the number of players from a year ago! Everyone was doing his best to capture a WPT title and get his share of the nearly $2.5 million prize pool.

When the smoke cleared, the heads-up confrontation came down to longtime poker pro Surinder Sunar from England and trash-talking Tony Guoga from Australia. (You would remember this guy if you follow the WPT on the Travel Channel. He made the final table in Paris before, and is one of a kind.) This was the longest heads-up battle in the history of the WPT. Don’t miss seeing the seesaw drama unfold when it airs on TV with https://harlemshambles.com 


Congratulations to champion Surinder Sunar. He captured the title, approximately $850,000, and a coveted $25,000 entry into the WPT Championship at Bellagio next April.


Final-table results in the 2004 Grand Prix de Paris were as follows:


  1. Surinder Sunar, England — $849,825


  1. Tony Guoga, Australia — 424,912


  1. James Overman, United States — 254,950


  1. Peter Roche, Ireland — 169,962


  1. Ben Roberts, England — 127,475


  1. Dave Colclough, England — 106,112


Poker in Paris is magnifique; just ask these guys. Take care.