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2015 WSOP November Nine: An Interview With Pierre Neuville

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2015 WSOP November Nine: An Interview With Pierre Neuville

[Image Credit: fr.pokerlistings.com]

Lee Davy sits down with 2015 World Series of Poker November Niner Pierre Neuville to talk about the build up to one of the important milestones in his long and illustrious life.

Pierre Neuville is one of Europe’s top live tournament poker players.

He has career earnings of $3m, and with more luck, could have been a World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet winner and European Poker Tour (EPT) champion – having finished runner-up in those events three times.

In a week’s time, he will be heading to Las Vegas to compete in the games most superlative spectacle – the WSOP Main Event. He can add millions more to his bank balance, but for a man who has made a living playing and making games for decades, this is not about the money.

It’s about life.

What have you been up to between making the WSOP Nov Nine and now?

“Firstly, realizing that I got my poker paradise on earth. I have enjoyed every minute since July 15th. Since then I have been busy focusing on building a happy ending to this exciting, unique WSOP final table.”

What are the difficulties and benefits playing poker in your 70s?

“Difficulties: not one difficulty is an obstacle to the joy of playing poker! Benefits: As ‘an old timer,’ my experience in life is very beneficial when facing so many different situations, and when dealing with various people from all over the world.

“Life is difficult for most of the people in their 70s. No new business proposals; no new proposals at all; for many of us, there are very few things to do except ‘think of the past.’ Poker has offered me a third youth, a new future, intense passion, new friends from all over the world and a such an extensive list of new goals.”

You have been in the gaming industry for a long time. What’s your opinion on changing poker as a game to make it more exciting for a live audience, and what are the things you would change from a gaming standpoint?

“A live audience makes a poker tournament more exciting and attractive for the media overall. Spectators bring joy and also color to the very often too dark poker-rooms. Their admittance should be made more flexible. They should also be able to see the cards on the table.

“EPT do not understand this and are keeping spectators outside the poker rooms. Their Media coordinator is keeping mainstream journalists outside in the same way. Almost no journalist is attending the big European tournaments. It is the biggest EPT mistake. Sometimes the biggest events happen without a local article in the press. And it is not true that media are not interested in Europe. I have gotten more full and front page articles during the last three months in the daily mainstream press than the whole EPT together, and I have not won the final table (Yet).

“Not one pro-journalist attends the European’s biggest events anymore. I have five accredited journalists flying with me to Las Vegas simply because they realize an interest from a large public audience. It is one of the reasons that Alex Dreyfus’ idea is genius, visionary and the development of an immense goal.

“Alex knows that if he increases the interest of the show if he welcomes the media and the spectators, he will be able to give to the greatest game ‘Poker’ the place that it deserves. It will be easier to achieve in the USA as WSOP always had the culture to welcome spectators.”

What is your opinion on the Global Poker League and using your experience what are some of the key features you would introduce to make it a success?

“I will devote myself to bring my little stone in any manner to help Alex succeed. I am convinced Alex is so determined that he will succeed. But the poker world is slow and a little bit conservative so he will have to move mountains.”

What are your remaining goals in life?

“I want to make the top three spots in the final table on Nov 9. Happily continue play poker in a healthy body for as long as I can. Read a good article explaining the quality of my poker without mentioning that I am 80. Enter the Guinness Book of World Records for my future poker records other than being the oldest here and there. Have my two grandchildren railing a final table before my last one (and they are only 6 and 10, and I will attend their University degree both in perfect health with my wife).”

Do you have a bucket list and if so what are the types of things on there?

“To travel the world while playing poker, to meet the Dalai Lama and say thank you for inspiring some parts of my life including my poker philosophy, and maybe share with him the respect for others that poker teaches, and thus let him discover our game.

“Contribute to make the world a better place for everybody; lend my support to the wonderful “One Drop” initiative. Bring joy to the people I love and spend the rest of my life, peacefully, near a beach, with my wife.”

What is the one thing that makes your day?

“Seeing my wife happy and especially taste her great meals, besides the daily, delicious breakfasts she brings to me in bed with all her delicate attentions.”

If you could change one thing about the history of the world what would it be and why?

“Convince the entire world that religion is a personal matter and can never be an excuse for war, torture, terror or suffering. If I could have changed this, there would almost never have been any war!”

What is the most difficult promise you have ever had to keep and why?

“Not to eat anymore Dame-Blanche: vanilla ice-cream with hot chocolate sauce, because it is quite irresistible as a desert!”

Who is the most intimidating person you have met and why?

“I am still hoping to meet that person one day.”

What has been the most difficult period of your life and why?

“The many, severe surgeries I had to undergo between 2005 and 2007. Because of some serious surgical mistakes, I had a close encounter with death and had to abandon my passion for golf around the world. In 2008, our national bank crashes. Stupid, irresponsible people who called themselves ” Directors,” lead our number one bank – our national pride – to complete ruin.”

What is the one habit that has made the greatest contribution to your life?

“I think my patience to observe and reflect first, BEFORE rushing into making hasty, damaging decisions has protected me from many bad happenings. Never hurry to make regretful decisions or do stupid things.”

What would you say to a 40-year old Pierre Neuville?

“You just started to understand a little bit of life…so many dreams to achieve. You are ready to start living. Meet the right people, make the right choices, be generous, and see the world – the four keys on the way to a happy life.”

What is the best toy you have ever owned and why?

“The Eddy Merckx boarding-game, because I invented it, and Eddy is the best cyclist the world has ever known. Apart from that, it is truly an extraordinary, entertaining board game for the entire family. It was the best idea during my younger life. The worse choice I made was when I stopped producing it! When you understand how popular the “Tour de France” has become, it would be a great idea for somebody to bring it back on the market!”

Name an invention you always wanted to make and never did?

“Give to poker its right place as the greatest game in the world. Most probably Alex {Dreyfus} just did. Finish writing the book of my life and it’s funniest stories.”

What is your strongest memory and how has it affected your life?

“It was the death of my dear mom. She has always been there for me in bad and good days. I think of her every day. She adored playing cards. She adored that her little one of “66 ” won his first tournament when she was 90. I would have brought her to Las Vegas for sure, even if she was 96. I am sure she will be with me in spirit and watch over me during the final table, and she will love it.”

If you could choose anyone to stop by your house for a cup of tea who would it be and why?

“Barack Obama – the only problem is I am not sure that he drinks tea? I am convinced that he genuinely means well for the world, but the most important reason: my wife thinks he’s gorgeous.”

Give my teenage son some advice.

“Do not be afraid to realize your dreams and work hard every day for what you want to achieve in life, but always remember to handle with care and precaution and respect the people you deal with. And the most important: always honor and respect your parents, never forget them! This is the easiest choice in life.”

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