World Series of Poker Europe

Tournament Director Nicolas Fraïoli Talks About the Closure of Aviation Club de France

Nicolas Fraïoli

In recent months, Nicolas Fraïoli, the tournament director at the Aviation Club de France (ACF), became the figurehead of the fight for the reopening of the iconic club located in the Avenue des Champs Elysèes in Paris, France.

Raided and closed by the races and games division (SCCJ) of the French national judicial police (DCPJ) on Sept. 16, 2014, with accusations that included irregularities in the employment of a part of its personnel and money laundering, the ACF was officially shut down and put in judicial liquidation earlier this month.

A few days after the French authorities closed the historic venue that opened in 1907 and hosted top poker events such as the World Poker Tour, PokerNews France' Julien Tissot reached out to Fraïoli to talk about the closure of the club and two of the most interesting moments he lived in his 10-year career.

PokerNews: How did you feel when you discovered that the authorities decided to put the ACF in judicial liquidation?

Fraïoli: Even if in a way I had the feeling that this was going to happen, there is always a great difference between the way you feel when you expect to be told about something, and how are at the moment when you are actually told about that.

It left a bitter taste in my mouth, but at the same time it came as a relief as it brought five months of fighting to an end. Finally, someone made a decision.

I would have obviously preferred to hear something different, something more positive for the club, but there is nothing worse than to live in waiting. Today, at least, I know that I can move on and focus on something else.

Can you tell us a bit about your career at the ACF?

I started to work as a dealer in May 2005. Less than one year later, in February 2006, I became the tournament director for the Paris Poker Open (POP). Then, in 2009, I became the tournament director of the club's committee of games.

Looking back over the past months, do you feel you did everything you could in order to keep the ACF open? Do you have any regrets?

First, let me tell you that I have never seen such a strong support and solidarity like the ones we have witnessed after the closure of the club. This allowed me to get to know much better all the people involved in the club, all the members of the staff that I used to work with.

As for the fight, the French Government did not find it hard to send people to unemployment. It has been a battle between David and Goliath. Yet, I want to thank all the club's members and friends that supported us.

Personally, I have no regrets - even if this is the end of a truly mythical place. I have spent 10 years working in that beautiful place, and that's a good part of my life. What is sure, is that I will keep some very good memories of the time I have spent there.

Speaking of memories, would you mind to share your best ones with us?

I can tell you about two great ones. The first one is the heads up played by Roger Hairabedian and David 'DevilFish' Uliott. I truly believe that this was the funniest and most friendly final heads up I have ever had to supervise, and it came in a €5,000 buy-in event.

The second moment that comes to my mind is an interesting hand between Franck Kalfon and Laurent Polito. I remember that, because Polito got quite a bad beat when his {K-Diamonds} {K-Spades} crushed against Kalfon's {9-Spades} {9-Clubs} thanks to a {9-Spades} on the river!

Now that we all know that the door of the ACF is going to stay closed, what can you tell us about your plans?

Right now, I am trying to set up a new concept of poker tournaments that will drastically reduce the luck factor. At least for now, I can't tell you anything more about it.

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