Groupe Partouche To Give Partouche Poker Tour Another Try
Here’s a poker tale most people wouldn’t have expected to see: France’s Groupe Partouche has announced plans to reanimate the once-failed Partouche Poker Tour. The French casino operator has announced a series of satellite events at Partouche-owned casinos that will lead up to a grand final to be held in September 2020 in Cannes, France.
The surprise factor was greatly enhanced by the fact that during the PPT’s last main event in 2012, Groupe Partourche tried to reneg on a €5 million main event guarantee while that main event was underway. Groupe Partouche was on the hook for an overlay of nearly €750,000, and when the casino group tried to walk away from the guarantee, players raised the hue-and-cry, including complaining to France’s gaming regulators. Groupe Partouche eventually reversed course and honored the guarantee amid a corporate snit fit in which it avowed to permanently retire the PPT.
That’s why it’s so strange to see the Partouche Poker Tour returning. The tour itself was known for cheating play and a ton of local favoritism, which were contributing factors in why attendance at the tour’s stops went south in its final two years. Besides being poorly run and directed, according to widespread and nearly unanimous player reports, both the 2009 and 2010 Partouche Poker Tour main events were mired in scandal that also contributed to the tour’s downfall.
In 2009, Corsican players Jean-Paul Pasqualini and Cedric Rossi finished first and second in the main, then were to discovered to have conspired with each other at at least the final table, using a series of hand signals to communicate their holdings to each other. The two were then able to soft-play each other while playing a best-hand-forward style against the other finalists. They eventually won about €2 million combined before their cheating antics were analyzed, with videos first posted on a French poker forum.
One would think once was enough, but it happened in back-to-back years. The 2010 Partouche Poker Tour main event was marred by the removal of German cheat Ali Tekintamgac from its final table for another form of hand-signal cheating. Tekintamgac ran wild over the European tournament scene for a couple of years, wholly due to his employing of a couple of fake “bloggers” who always positioned themselves behind whichever of Tekintamgac’s opponents weren’t guarding their hole cards properly. In 2010, news of Tekintamgac’s cheating at another event surfaced during a two-month hiatus before the 2010 PPT’s November finale, which was set up something like the WSOP’s old “November Nine” conclusion.
Tekintamgec was eventually tried, convicted, and sentenced to nearly four years in prison in Germany for his cheating activities elsewhere, though he was never punished for his PPT cheating. All three players — Pasqualini, Rossi, and Tekintamgac — were subsequently removed from the prominent Global Poker Index database of results.
(Digression of no special note: I caught a poker cheat at the rail myself last summer, and it was likely my knowledge of the Tekintamgac scheme that helped me quickly identify the cheating activity. I can’t provide any more details than that, not even as to where it happened.)
And thus we return to the Partouche Poker Tour’s planned 2020 rebirth; satellites at various Groupe casinos begin early next year. The PPT has quite a bit to atone for, and business as usual, 2010-style, just won’t do. On the flip side, the casino-laden south of France remains wide open to a well-run poker tour, and if Groupe Partouche can do the job right, this time, it’ll be for the good of everyone. Let’s see if they can pull it off.