Although I grew up with the typical anti-French sentiment commonly ingrained in Americans, I have to admit that I was quite impressed with France in many ways on my trip there in October. There was one couple in particular who helped to change my mind.
I was extraordinarily impressed with the castle and the French surrounding countryside, but I still had my reservations about admitting that I liked France! I was holding off judgement until I hit Cannes on the French Riviera immediately after for the World Series of Poker Europe events.
My hat's off to Jack Effel and the WSOP team for just about every aspect of how the tournament was run, and for the selection of Hotel Majestic to host the event. From what I hear, Hotel Majestic is one of the oldest and most famous hotels in France and room go for 1k/night during the peak season. But considering how beautiful the hotel is and how breathtaking the beaches of the French Riviera are, it comes as no surprise that they can command such a rate.
The only things in Cannes more beautiful than the beaches are the women. All I can say is holy shit. Since tiny little blondes are my favorite thing in the world, I honestly can't even decide if I Cannes or Southern California is my favorite place to enjoy the scenery. I was VERY impressed in with the women in Cannes, to say the least. If only I spoke some French and didn't spend just about every waking moment trying to chase bracelets while I was there, I may even have met some!
The only live tournament I cashed in on the trip was in the €1620 six-handed PLO event, and it turned into quite an adventure on day two. I squeezed into day two with just over 5k at 200/400. I left my apartment, which was 4km/~2mi from the casino, 45 minutes before the restart and asked the lady at the pizzeria (France has more pizzerias than I've seen anywhere outside NYC...Italy included) to call me a taxi. 30 minutes go by and there's no sign of my taxi. I start to panic and sprint to a taxi stand a few blocks away. No taxis. FUCK! Ran back to my apartment and still didn't see my taxi.
I decide to start running in the direction of the casino while I try to hail a taxi. About a mile and three failed hail attempts later, the fact that I just ate half a calzone, drank a coke, and am wearing khakis & a button up on a slightly warm and humid day all start to add up. I was sweating profusely, having difficulty breathing, and started to feel that weird woozy feeling where everything in your vision starts to fade to black & white.
Then, despite the fact that I hadn't been trying to hail a taxi for over a minute, a small car slowed to a near-stop as they passed me despite being in moderately heavy traffic.
"Where are you going?" asked a middle-aged French woman from the passenger seat in a thick French accent.
"Casino!" I replied while pointing across the portion of the Mediterranian Sea that separated me from my 13 big blinds, since there was only one casino in town...and since I barely had the energy left to mutter that one word.
She proceeded to get out of the car and move the seat forward for me to hop in the back, much to my delight and surprise. I must admit that good bit of my anti-French sentiment was quickly washed away by this random act of kindness, the likes of which I can't imagine seeing in most areas of my home country, sadly. They drove me to the casino, and I'm pretty sure "Where are you going?" just so happened to be the only thing this lady or her husband knew how to say in English, so there was little communication other than me saying "MERCI!!!" over and over. They even refused the tip I tried to give them when they dropped me off. So once again, wherever you are, MERCI!!!
I showed up 12 minutes and about an orbit late, so I only lost 1.5BB from my stack. I doubled up twice, but ended up losing it all in a huge pot where I flatted Kh-Kx-Th-8x against an UTG raise on a 27BB stack, got it in against 3d-4d-5s-6s on a Qh-3h-4c flop, and whiffed. I finished 25th of ~360 entrants, but more importantly I was very happy with my play aside from one hand where I misplayed A-A-x-x. I was growing more confident in my pot-limit Omaha game, which is great because it's the only game besides no limit Hold'em that I'm really working hard at nowadays.
Someone told me that the stereotype of French people comes largely from Parisians, who are like the New Yorkers of France. Then it started to make a little sense to me...after all, can you imagine if we sent a loud, obnoxious, angry New Yorker around the world representing us as a country? Now I've come to love many of these New Yorkers (I'm especially talking to you, Peter Lubrano), but people may not exactly get an accurate depiction of us as a people from these examples.
In the end I have to admit...I love France. I'm not a big fan of the food, but the culture, history, and the people themselves are all part of the reason that I had such a great time in France despite the fact that I did nothing but dump money into the prize pools while I was there. Of course, I'd be remiss not to mention how much fun it is to play poker with the French locals though. I really wish I had played more tournaments there, and that the rake in cash games wasn't 5% uncapped (yes, UNCAPPED). I'll definitely be back for the WSOPE next year, and I could even see myself doing some non-poker vacationing there (I don't do much of that...so that's big).