In a few hours all this will be over. The poker tables will be packed up, the players will make their way to the station to catch trains or to Paris to connect with flights home, and the European Poker Tour itself will pack into boxes, be loaded onto a truck, and head back to its official home of London, ahead of the next leg at the Grosvenor Victoria Casino next month.
In its wake, the town of Deauville will go back to sleep. It’s 4,000 permanent inhabitants, used to invasions of one type or another, will return to their peaceful lives of baguettes and cigarettes, walking the dog each afternoon in peace rather than on streets filled with poker players, inappropriately dressed and talking in some kind of code.
Then the next bandwagon will roll into town, another conference, another big race, decorated with joie de vivre. In fact, recent years have been busy ones for this small town by the sea.
In 2010 three world leaders, Sarkozy of France, Merkel of Germany and Medvedev of Russia, came to Deauville for a Tri-lateral summit (score draw), where they were presumably submitted to having bright coloured bands strapped to their wrists before being allowed to say anything about matters of state.
A year later, in May 2011, the G8 summit was held in Deauville, with world leaders at the seaside for a couple of days, with Deauville turned into a fortress, to gamble with world economies. Oddly all of this can fit into a town the size of Deauville, which has only two visible hotels. This might actually be the genius behind such political stage management, which usually attracts crowds of outraged protestors when it pops up in various cities around the world. Where do these protestors stay? And how could they possibly afford it? This may explain why expensive resorts like this are selected in the first place.
Deauville has been a town built on money for generations. It was about horse racing, the main draw for August visitors from Paris, and being seen, either on the promenade or the Casino, this casino, built 100 years ago.
Pictures of Deauville in the inter-war years are almost identical to those taken now, with the vast Normandie and Royal hotels dominating the beachfront, as well as Casino Deauville tucked between the, The only difference between then and now being the age of the Bentley’s parked outside.
Even after the war, Deauville soon restored its credentials as the summer destination to be seen. That included the rich, like the Aga Khan playing golf (“Can he putt? The Aga can!”); the famous, like Rita actress Rita Hayworth, and her husband (out of shot), and the regal, like King Farouk, and King Alphonso, although the latter king was a horse.
Horses training on the beach
As the years have gone by the town has continued to evolve into a rest area for the rich. A harbour was built, and a marina. The airport was built in 1931 but is big enough only for light aircraft, usually the toys of visiting princes to the Deauville-La Touques race track. Then there’s the conference centre, which has hosted the EPT this week, which is effectively underground between the town and the beachfront, an area of land deliberately kept free of construction, with the exception of an Olympic sized swimming pool.
The beach promenade
Other than that pictures from the belle époque look very similar, from the right angle, to those of today. Writing about the town in the 1970s, Fred Feldkamp wrote in The New Yorker magazine that if there were ever another French revolution Deauville would be the last place to know. We should drink to that, perhaps with pastis or calvados, and look forward to the EPT returning to a completely unchanged Deauville in 12 months from now.
Stephen Bartley is a PokerStars Blog reporter