Poker may be the quintessential American game, but there's a lot to suggest its origins are from France.
Evolving from the 17th card game called Poque, French settlers brought the game to the Mississippi Delta and New Orleans, and the rest, as they say, is history.
How fitting it would be then if France were to crown its first World Champion this week. That's certainly within the realm of possibilities over the next two nights, as Sylvain Loosli (who is originally from Toulon, France) is competing amongst this year's November Nine.
So what would a WSOP Main Event championship mean not just for Loosli, who stands to win $6,361,570 and immortality as the winner of poker's most coveted annual prize, but perhaps more important for France as one of the world's proudest and most culturally elite populations? One of poker's most notable French journalists weighed in.
“For us, poker is considered an American game,” said Benjo Gallen, a longtime poker writer based in France and reporter for Winamax. “It's associated with America and particularly the old west. Poker has made a lot of progress in France in recent years, but there's still resistance to it, also. It's still has an outlaw image to a certain extent with a lot of people in France.”
That said, Gallen offered an assessment that Loosli's victory could help the cause of advancing poker's popularity, not just in France, but way beyond. “Since Sylvain made the finale, there has been a lot of mainstream coverage in French media that was positive," Gallen said. “What we hope to do is try and continue promoting the game as a mind sport – a game of skill, because that's true.”
Gallen will be watching it all unfold here at the Rio in Las Vegas. Many of his fellow countrymen (and women) are expected to follow the action back across the Atlantic, where's it's the middle of the night.
“It's 2 am over the France right now, and I've heard from so many people saying they will not be going to the office tomorrow,” DiMeo added. “Let's hope it's a long night and longer day tomorrow for the people watching in France.”
Loosli started tonight ranked in sixth place.