France Poker

History of Poker in France

France is not often brought up in a conversation as one of the world’s hotspots for poker activity, but the country has a very long tradition of playing card games, and could just be the birthplace of poker! Along with a Persian game known as As Nas, the French game Poque is credited as being the forerunner of modern poker, which fits in nicely with the storyline that modern poker sprang up amongst the French settlers in the Louisiana basin and from there moved up the Mississippi.

With poker considered an American game, prior to 2003 there were only a few places in Europe –Holland, the UK, and Austria tops among the list. But France was one of the first countries to really take to the game when the poker boom occurred in 2003, and poker in France has grown exponentially ever since.

There was a small segment of poker players in France before 2003, and the country can lay claim to having hosted the first WPT tournament outside of the United States, when the WPT hosted a tournament in Paris at the storied Aviation Club. The Aviation Club in Paris was amongst the few places in Europe where a poker table could be found prior to 2003, but the club hosted only a single table for privileged members at that time.

In a short amount of time France has become one of the poker capitals of Europe, a point that can be backed up by the fact that France is the new home of the World Series of Poker Europe beginning in 2011, and is also the home of the Partouche Poker Tour, the WPT Grand Prix de Paris, the WPT Amneville, and the EPT Deauville.

Famous French Poker Players

Over the past decade France has produced a number of top poker players, and has a stable of 22 poker pros with over $1 million in career tournament earnings according to database –as well as being able to lay claim to Vanessa Rousso who has dual citizenship in both France and the United States, and two-time WPT champion Tuan Le who was born in France but moved to the United States at an early age.

Topping the list of famous French poker players is Bertand “ElkY” Grosspellier, a former Starcraft champion turned poker champion. Grosspellier is one of only four poker players in the history of the game who have completed the Triple Crown –A win on the EPT, WPT, and at the WSOP—and is considered one of the top online poker players of all-time, in addition to racking up nearly $8.5 million in live tournament winnings.

Another famous Frenchman who possesses an affinity for poker is David Benyamine, who along with over $6 million in career tournament earnings is also considered one of the top cash-game players in the world.

Here is a look at the top French poker players as well as some of their accomplishments:

[sws_grey_box box_size=”510″]Grospellier poker player Bertrand Grospellier

  • Triple Crown Winner
  • $8,437,746 in career tournament earnings
  • 2008 EPT PCA winner
  • 2008 WPT Festa al Lago Champion
  • 2009 PCA High-Roller Champion
  • 2011 WSOP bracelet winner
  • Member of Team PokerStars Pro


[sws_grey_box box_size=”510″]benyamine poker David Benyamine

  • $6,155,573  in career tournament earnings
  • 2008 WSOP bracelet winner
  • 2003 WPT Grand Prix de Paris winner
  • Full Tilt Poker Red Pro

[sws_grey_box box_size=”510″]Antoine Saout poker Antoine Saout

  • 3rd place in the 2009 World Series of Poker Main Event
  • $3,863,435 in career tournament earnings
  • Plays online as Tonio292 and rocks at the MTT
  • Won his 2009 WSOP seat from a $50 satellite on Everest Poker

[sws_grey_box box_size=”510″]Fabrice Soulier poker Fabrice Soulier

  • $3,290,642 in career tournament earnings
  • 2011 WSOP bracelet winner
  • 5 WSOP final tables
  • Final tables on the WPT and Partouche Poker Tour Main Event
  • Everest Poker sponsored pro

[sws_grey_box box_size=”510″]Bruno Fitoussi poker Bruno Fitoussi

  • $2,416,651  in career tournament earnings
  • Runner-up in the 2007 $50k HORSE Championship at the WSOP
  • European Poker Hall of Fame member

[sws_grey_box box_size=”510″]Mattern Arnaud Arnaud Mattern

  • $1,879,227 in career tournament earnings
  • French backgammon champion in 2006
  • 2007 EPT Prague winner
  • Team PokerStars France player


Online Poker in France

Online poker in France was similar to the rest of the world in the early days, with unregulated poker sites having free run of the market, but France was one of the first countries to legalize and regulate online poker –in March of 2009– following the path blazed by Italy the previous year. However, unlike Italy, which at the time only permitted tournament poker to be played online, France legalized and regulated both tournament and cash games – and like Italy, competition has been limited to residents of France.

The ability to play legal online poker in France wasn’t an instant success with the French citizenry, who felt that the rake and fees being levied by the online poker rooms was excessive.  After negotiating with the government the online poker rooms were able to lighten the licensing and tax fees they paid, a savings they then passed on to their player base.

Today, France has one of the largest player bases of online poker in the world, with (the French-facing PokerStars site) ranked as the 7th largest online poker site/network in the world. Other key players in the French online poker market include Everest Poker,, Party Poker and the OnGame Network.

Here is a look at the Top 3 online poker sites in France:

[sws_blue_box box_size=”560″]pokerstars site

  • Over 50,000 players online at any given time
  • Team PokerStars France: Vanessa Rousso, Bertrand “ElkY” Grosspellier, Arnaud Mattern, Julien Braccard, Sebastien Chabel
  • Fully licensed and regulated by ARJEL

winamax france

  • Over 10,000 players online at any given time
  • €1,000 Euro deposit bonus for French Players
  • Fully licensed and regulated by ARJEL Everest

  • Peak cash-game traffic 1,800
  • Team Everest includes French players Fabrice Soulier and Leonard Truche
  • €1,000 Euro deposit bonus for French Players
  • Fully licensed and regulated by ARJEL


Where to play poker in France

There are a number of casinos dotting the French countryside, the most famous of which is the previously mentioned Aviation Club de France in Paris. Other noted casinos in France include the Cannes Mandelieu Royal Casino, the Casino Barriere in Deauville, the Casino Barriere de Nice, the Casino Barriere de Trouville, the Palm Beach Casino in Cannes, and the Le Croisette Casino Barrière Cannes.

As with most European casinos, proper dress is required and the minimum age to enter a casino in France is 18.

Poker laws in France

As stated above, online poker is legal in France, provided the site is licensed and regulated by the French gaming authority ARJEL.

A recent ruling in the French courts has deemed poker to be a game of skill, which allows French citizens to participate in, and organize, poker games so long as the house is not collecting a fee. However, the prosecution in the case has decided to appeal the decision, so this may change sometime down the road.

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