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The nice-mad poker king!


May 4, 2021

The nice-mad poker king!

What's the link between Jean-Pierre Teisseire, Dick Van Dijk, Roger Ricort, Roby Langers, Maurice Cohen and Yoan Cardinale? OGC Nice, of course, and a poker champion who has had a lifelong love affair with Le Gym.

It's a story that can barely be believed. On 21 March 2018, Antonin Teisseire went to the Allianz Riviera to take part in a poker tournament organised by Winamax (a Gym partner at the time) to compete alongside the likes of Cardinale, Souquet, Lees-Melou, Cyprien and Plea.

The Aiglons may have been at home, but little did they know they were playing on the turf of a man whose verve and charisma have earned him the nickname, 'The Pavarotti of Poker'. "It's because I'm a big guy and I often mess around at tournaments," he explained. "I came to the Allianz Riviera because a friend at Winamax invited me and because I'm a big Nice fan, I accepted and I had a great time." The same can't be said for those he played…


In the world of poker, 'Tonin' Teisseire, who comes from Colle-sur-Loup, is a big figure in more than one sense. He finished third in the prestigious PPT tournament in Cannes in 2009, and two years later he won the WSOP bracelet, the equivalent of the world championship, in Las Vegas. The Palais de la Méditerranée rechristened its poker room in his honour, quite an achievement for a man who learned to play "without telling my dad."

His dad, born in Colle-sur-Loup on 31 August 1940, is Jean-Pierre Teisseire, who came through the youth ranks to make 55 first-team appearances for the club between 1959 and 1964. He scored his single goal for the Rouge-et-Noir in a 2-0 win over Bordeaux on 12 April 1964 before going on to play for Grenoble, Lyon, Aix, Avignon, Reims and Ajaccio. His name, like all the other players, is on the wall in the club's press conference room.

His love for the club has been passed on to his son and also his grandson Arthur, 28, who has a season ticket in the Sud stand. "I never miss a game," said Tonin. "When the Gym lose, I have a stomachache, it makes me ill. This year, we've had a lot of injuries, but honestly, I'm optimistic about the future, because the club is in good hands. And because the times I've gotten the biggest buzz from have been in recent years with Ben Arfa and Balotelli."


The poker star certainly isn't bluffing as he recounts his love affair with the club almost from birth. "When I was small, I went to see Bjekovic, Katalinski, Jouve. That's the Gym of my childhood. My grandfather took me to the Ray. We also lived near Van Dijk, whom I knew well. When I grew up, I made a lot of friends at the club."

He added: "Roby Langers lived in Saint-Paul de Vence and I spent a lot of time there. When he was there, we were very friendly. We played boules together. The evening of the quadruple against Strasbourg, I was at the stadium and went to party with the players at the Royal Cost in the city. I could tell you so many other stories." Why not then? "My great friend, Roger Ricort. He's a great guy. We drank coffee together every morning and as he's in Colle, we still often speak about the Gym. I've sometimes made him a little mad by asking for tickets a the last minute, but he has always come through. There was a time when I would drink coffee with Jean-Phi’ Mattio, but we've lost touch. I also know Maurice Cohen. We met at a €100 poker tournament when I was world champion…"

Tonin works on poker programmes for RMC with Daniel Riolo, had a tournament with Neymar in Barcelona — "He was very nice, loves poker, and thought he could beat me…" — and proudly held up his Nice shirt in Dublin after a big win in Dublin in 2016 — "whenever I can, I do things like that". As soon as the public health situation allows, OGC Nice will invite him, his father and son to the training centre so that the family can join the family, so to speak.

The training centre is on Rue Jean-Luciano, named after the man who coached him at Cavigal and who coached his father chez les Aiglons...

Constantin Djivas
Photos : Winamax