Paris – the city of lovers, the home of the Mona Lisa and the Arc de Triomphe, where the Tour de France finishes, and where you can overlook this famous city at the top of the Eiffel Tower. It is a historic city, a famous city, it is a place that many have on their bucket lists, one of Charles Dickens’ ‘two cities’, and where Clark Griswold went with his family in European Vacation. In short, the city of Paris is one of the most iconic cities in the world thanks to art, literature and movies. And let’s not forget that Paris is also the capital city of France, making it a tourist hotspot, but also the gateway to the rest of this European country.
Faced with such a reputation, it is understandable that Paris does what it can to cater to not only the locals, but the tourists. The French Open is held in the city, as is the second richest horse race in the world, the Prix de le Arc de Triomphe, and pari-mutuel betting alone on the Arc de Triomphe horse race is astronomical, never mind the business that bookmakers see from overseas. So gambling in Paris is, of course, legal. In fact, there are casinos throughout Paris… but there is a caveat.
Casinos in Paris, at the time of writing, cannot legally have slot machines in them. In fact, there are no legal slot machines through the city of Paris at all. The casinos offer table games, and there are many that either offer poker as a side feature, or are exclusively poker rooms. Compared to the rest of France, Paris is a bit of an anomaly given that it is the epicenter of the entire country, yet you cannot play a slot machine.
Keeping that in mind, the casinos in Paris are not the sprawling, gaudy monstrosities you would expect elsewhere – there is no need, they only have to house table games and a poker room, not 300 or so slot machines. With that in mind, the biggest casino in Paris is the Cercle Haussmann at 22 Rue de la Michodiere, in the center of this beautiful city.
The Cercle Haussmann is open from 2pm daily and stays open until 7am, with the tables opening from 2pm, so you do not have to hang around if you are looking to get right into the action.
So the Cercle Haussmann is a relatively small casino, although compared to its Parisian counterparts it is actually rather large. There are currently 25 table games offered at the Cercle Haussman, with the old favorites there – blackjack, roulette, chemin de fer (a variation of baccarat) – as well as the French specialty game of La Boule and a couple of casino poker games for you to wagers your euros at such as Three Card Poker and Caribbean Stud Poker.
The main draw to Cercle Haussmann is actually the poker room. It is unbelievably elegant – high ceilings, molded fittings on the walls, and light fixtures which take you back to the 19th century at the very least. The games start off modest, with a 50NL game with 2/2 blinds and the games move up through the limits to 1,000NL with blinds of 10/20. The dealers are trained in dealing several varieties of poker, so if Texas Hold ‘Em is not your game of choice, you can also play Omaha, and the infamous Dealer’s Choice games, where nearly anything goes, as you would expect.
The gambling scene in Paris is an interesting if not varying one – nearly every casino offers the same thing to a varying degree, some table games, and a poker room. The Cercle Haussmann, being the biggest casino, should be the draw. But when you think of poker in France, you might be more inclined to think of the Aviation Club because if features on the World Poker Tour broadcast. The fact is, when you are looking for a casino to spend some time at in Paris, Cercle Haussmann is the biggest, but that does not mean it is the best. If it is table games you are looking for, then yes, it is the best. But if it is poker, you might be better suited to another casino, or Cercle Haussmann might just be for you. Look into the rake in the poker rooms, into the ‘time charges’ and what games are offered, and if the Cercle Haussmann is still your main choice, head on time and have a blast.
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