The Aviation Club in Paris, one of the flagship poker rooms in Europe through-out the 1900’s and much of the 2000’s is set to re-open. It was known for it’s high-stakes practice and as host of the World Poker Tour’s 2004 World Poker Tour Grand Prix de Paris leg – it’s where Tony G created a name for himself through a verbal tirade during a losing heads-up encounter with Surinder Sunar.
But the card room, formerly headed by Bruno Fitoussi, was actually a World Poker Tour charter member, meaning it staged its first WPT a year earlier when 86 players bought-in for € 10,000 and the first award was won by Swedish Christer Johannson. Halcyon days.
The card room goes back to 1907 when it first opened and situated at 104 Avenue desChamps-Elysees, is a mere stone’s throw from the iconic Arc de Triomphe.
Of course, if a card room could speak–and this was a thoroughbred card room without roulette wheels or slot machines–the Aviation would have lots of tales to tell.
One story would come from 2004, when armed robbers botched a robbery (during the WPT) and left a path of money and keys on the stairway to a getaway motorcycle–ultimately on a hijacked road-sweeper they made their escape!
And then there was September 2014 when police raided the venue in the midst of job law and money laundering allegations of irregularities. Five months later, it was never to reopen and put into liquidation.
It is estimated that €1.4 million (£1.2m) was lost in customer cash kept on deposit or’ out’ in chips as it was never retrieved. In fact, one person recently proved he had a €25,000 chip that was never cashed in or honoured.
But the grand ancient venue, fit for a scene from a classic Bond film, will reopen almost to the day (September 13), though under a fresh title. The Barrière Group, the leading French casino operator, is the new helmsmen and will be governed by legislation introduced at the beginning of 2018.
It means slot reels and roulette wheels will not spin yet but, according to the new tenants, the’ 1300sq meter venue with deep red carpet and centuries-old wood panelling will offer 27 game tables including Punto Bianco and Poker.’
The legendary establishment will be open daily from 2pm to 6am with an entrance fee of €15 and an annual subscription fee of €150, will also feature a Dépôt Légal restaurant, a third Paris eatery for leading Chef Christophe Adam.