Monday, 22nd April 2024 10:21
Home / Poker / A night at the Moulin Rouge helps forge friendships for Gold Pass winners and champions

Leigh Swift’s family WhatsApp group has taken a turn for the unpredictable over recent weeks. Ordinarily a place to share weekend plans, inside jokes and funny photos, Leigh’s contributions have suddenly become wholly more extravagant.

First there was the news that the mild-mannered taxi driver from Liverpool had won a $10,000 prize playing poker on his phone on the way to the pub on Christmas Eve. Then there were snaps of the Eiffel Tower and a five-star hotel and a poker room so big it would make most professionals gasp.

Then last night, he sat in the front row of Paris’s notorious Moulin Rouge, a flute of champagne in one hand, a bottle of Heineken in the other, watching France’s most celebrated entertainment troupe perform their peerless raunch.

During the accompanying dinner, he was deep in conversation with one of poker’s young superstars Mateusz Moolhuizen, hearing how the Dutchman just won close to €300,000 in one of the biggest tournaments ever held in Europe.

“I’m going on a cruise tomorrow,” Swift confided, bewildered by his sudden elevation to the ranks of VIP. “I can’t believe it. They can’t believe it.”

Leigh Swift’s Gold Pass earned him elevation to poker’s elite


Such is the life of a winner of a Gold Pass through the PokerStars Power Path. PokerStars enjoys treating all its players as VIPs, but it goes the extra inch when someone has pulled off something so remarkable as Swift.

His story of how he won a Gold Pass is one of the best (READ IT), and he revealed last night that he never even considered cashing his $10K of tournament value into online tickets. “I saw Paris was an option and I thought, ‘I want to have a holiday’,” he said.

And even though he didn’t make the money in the EPT Main Event, he was a man still living in a dreamland. He had spent some time talking to journalists about his experience and being interviewed on camera by the PokerStars TV crew. Then he accepted a last-minute invitation to the Moulin Rouge where he sat with Moolhuizen and forged an immediate friendship.

Fresh from his FPS Main Event triumph, Moolhuizen was riding a similar crest of a wave and was happy to tell Swift all he knew about the demanding life of a poker pro. He discussed bankroll dips and crises of confidence, followed by the feelings of unprecedented delight when many years of work translate into major tournament success.


The pair discussed mis-clicking in the PokerStars lobby and accidentally registering for tournaments. Moolhuizen accidentally played an Aussie Millions satellite back in the day, won it, and ended up jetting to Melbourne essentially by mistake. “I’ve done that,” Swift said, confessing that his habit of doing push-ups between hands while playing online has led to a couple of mistaken plays at the table.

Mateusz Moolhuizen shared his delight at winning the FPS Main Event

Moolhuizen was also a last-minute recruit for the Moulin Rouge trip, finding himself at a loose end after his girlfriend returned home for work, and having bust from Day 2 of the EPT Main Event. He hadn’t expected to be going somewhere that demanded dressing more smartly than regular poker-playing clothes, but quickly found some appropriate threads from an unlikely source.

“This is the story of the day, Moolhuizen said. “I am wearing the runners up’s clothes.” He revealed that he had become immediate friends with Blaz Zerjav as the pair battled to first and second in the FPS Main Event. Learning of Moolhuizen’s clothing predicament, Zerjav invited Moolhuizen to his room to examine his wardrobe, kitting him out in smart trousers, shirt, shoes and jacket.

“And perfume!” a sweet-smelling Moolhuizen added.


Conversation mostly paused for the 90 minutes of the Moulin Rouge show — a mix of death-defying acrobatic feats, breathless choreographic magnificence and era-defying titillation. (There can’t be many places in 2024 where so much flesh remains proudly on display.)

There were occasional interruptions. Just as a three male dancers dressed head-to-toe in sequins shimmied smugly onto stage, Swift whispered, “That was me when I won my Gold Pass. Dancing like that in the pub.”

Shortly after, as an acrobat angrily balanced on top of a wine bottle, Swift added, “And that’s me when I get disconnected playing a satellite.”

Moulin Rouge dancers entertained party-goers at the PokerStars party


After an exhausting 90 minutes, it was time to head outside and into a waiting taxi. By this point, Moolhuizen had revealed his upcoming plans to visit Liverpool with his future father-in-law and take him to the Premier League match between Liverpool and Manchester City.

Swift, also a Liverpool fan, told Moolhuizen he’d pick him up at the airport and serve as his driver for the weekend. Moolhuizen couldn’t quite believe it at first, but the offer was genuine. The local cabby was looking forward to welcoming the new FPS Main Event champion to his home town.

It was just one more way in which poker brings people together from various walks of life. Swift is only just beginning on his road to poker stardom, but this trip to Paris has helped him take a mighty leap forward.




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