World's Best Places to Gamble
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Game on: The City of Light's historic cercle de jeux clubs date back to the early 20th century and the World War II Occupation; many of these establishments were founded by members of the Corsican mafia who aided the French Resistance. Regular games of stud poker, Punto Banco, blackjack (a.k.a. Poker 21), and Texas Hold 'Em take place in the lavish salons of the Cercle Gaillon and Cercle Clichy Montmartre and require little more than a passport and a stylish jacket for entry. But the most popular card club in Paris remains the Aviation Club de France, on the Champs-Élysées. Founded in 1907 by a group of aviators, the elegant wood-paneled premises still hosts plenty of high-flying daredevils keen to earn their poker wings. Weekly tournaments plus low- to high-limit cash games keep the tables turning. A pilot's license is not required, but players will need to pay 100 and show ID to become members. And as you might hope in Paris, the in-house restaurant is excellent, serving a three-course prix fixe until midnight.
Inside bet: To stay close to the action, poker players like Isabelle Mercier pick the Hotel California Champs-Élysées, one of the Aviation Club de France's partner hotels, just a three-minute walk away.