Part of the charm of Pierre Neuville is that he plays poker the way we all would were their not gobs of money involved. The Team PokerStars Pro plays with a joy that's as hard to rival as it is to dislike, which, along with a career in the board games business, makes him the ideal person to create a poker game - "Poker Champ" - which we had the pleasure of trying out last night, along with local Riesling from the hotel bar.
The game is essentially poker, without betting or money, created for any age group that can understand what a flush is (for those that don't it's written down on a handy card). The aim to win Poker Champ trophies in a series of regular poker hands. As Neuville himself said, it's a game you can laugh at, with visual clues on the back of each playing card allowing you to make what would ordinarily be improbably reads. As they say; those that can't do are happy to play board games which make them think they can.
Not an actual Poker Champ trophy
Needless to say it was not about the winning, although Rick Dacey, who like me could hear the voice of Pierre in his head as we played, thought otherwise as he posed for pictures with his winner's trophy (as dictated in the rules of Poker Champ). Instead it was a chance to laugh at poor reads, hopeless hands and the odd slow roll.
It took Neuville 14 months to turn his idea into a physical product, which was trialled at Namur Casino in Belgium, where casino managers apparently cleared the regulars from the card room in order to play multi-table Poker Champ. Neuville took 50 courtesy copies with him to this world premiere. At the end of the night the Casino were dispatching cars to bring more from the warehouse 100km away.
It's to Neuville's credit, not to mention his long suffering wife Claudine.