“Nadal, I’m a total fan!”

Aurélien CANOT, Media365, published on Tuesday, November 22, 2022 at 3:18 p.m.

Géraldine Maillet’s overloaded schedule did not allow her to sit down at one of the innumerable tables of the Winamax Poker Tour on October 29 in the great hall of La Villette. However, it was not the desire that the TPMP columnist, a huge fan of poker and passionate about tennis, lacked that day. The one who lives her life at a hundred miles an hour gave us a few minutes to talk about her two great passions.

Géraldine, you thought of the Grande Halle de la Villette on October 29th, for the great return of the Winamax Poker Tour in which more than 2,500 players took part this year. You who have already discovered the event a few years ago, what is your view on such an event?
The place is so beautiful and impressive, it’s amazing. When you see all these people come in, with the same passion, the same desire, the same dream, that it starts to deal… You just hear the noise of the chips in an almost deafening silence. Frankly, I love it. I would have really liked to be able to play but unfortunately I couldn’t that day. I still went to observe, it was great. The “Wina” (Winamax) community is really something. There is a world in the world. I am completely “Wina” team. In addition, I know the players well, I am friends with some. I love Pierre Calamusa, I love Davidi’s crazy game (Kitai), I love Gaëlle (Baumann), Romain (Lewis, the world champion). I have to say it’s amazing to see them rated. In addition, they are very accessible. When you ask them how you played, they don’t tell you “But you suck! You should never play like that”, they are on the contrary very educational. And they deal themselves! I also love “Steph” Matheu, who takes care of the team, Laurence (Duplessis), who is just extraordinary. I defy little who went there that day without being able to play not to have been disgusted!

Géraldine Maillet, we knew you were a flagship columnist on the program Touche pas à mon poste, writer, playwright, filmmaker. You are also crazy about poker…
My history with poker goes back ten years. Indeed, I discovered poker with Daniel (Riolo, his companion), it was he who made me discover this universe. I was immediately piqued by this exciting and electrifying game. I like intellectual gymnastics and the endurance it requires, I like the relationship with people, observation at the table. I love talking with people, observing them and I find that in poker, there is a lot of observation. I also love the poker community. I find that there is a mixing, a mixture. Anyone can end up at a poker table. A boss can be next to a geek who can be next to a billionaire or someone much more modest. There’s just one thing in common: it’s five cards and a flop.

Did poker speak to you before meeting Daniel Riolo, or was it really him who got you started?
I had heard about it before, especially with Patrick Bruel, but not to the point of playing, moving around, doing tournaments, going to Las Vegas or doing things related to poker. For example, with Daniel (Riolo), we used to go to San Remo because there is a casino and small family tournaments with 80 people. I love that. When we go to visit capitals, we select capitals in there are casinos. We also organize recreational pokers at home, friendly pokers with small starting bets.

Knowing your assertive personality and the character of Daniel Riolo, some parts must be likeable…
However, we do not function in the same way in poker and in everyday life. Whether it’s him on a football show or me on TPMP, we’re not exactly the same. We see other aspects of a person’s personality. We are in poker as in a sports competition. When we play tennis together, our behavior is similar to that of poker, and it’s very different from the professional world. Me, for example, I am rather discreet and serious, and I play with this serious image in order to be able to bluff.

Did you fall in love as soon as you had the cards in your hand or did it take a while to come?
No, right away. I immediately said to myself: “When are we playing for real?! I started first online, then with friendly parties among journalist friends. Very quickly, I had results. I quickly won a tournament in Deauville, I was second a little later in Cabourg. It was a bit of beginner’s luck. For me, poker is like a thousand sheets, I’m on the second or third tablecloth. And each time you discover a tablecloth, you realize that there are ten above, in the course of your analysis and what you have to dissect in the game.

“Las Vegas is extraordinary!”

I imagine that when you love poker and you find yourself in Las Vegas, you must have the impression of landing in the temple of discipline…
Las Vegas, when we go there, it’s with the family and we play a lot of cash games because there are small tables in different casinos. There is a fault, it is incredible. Between those who were recovering from their exit, who offered to redo the cherry when they hadn’t slept for four days, a little drunk or the little American retirees who are within 200 dollars, frankly, it’s extraordinary. And always the adrenaline of winning, of a flop that we will hit, of a bluff that we will pass. It’s an emotion. We really have a beating heart. I don’t know about the pros. Maybe sometimes they manage to hide their thing. Before, I think I was turning red and now I’m fine. Now, we no longer see my stories.

All this, with the advice of Moundir, who has also become a friend and is a sacred champion…
Moundir, I love it. I listen to RMC Poker Show, I read poker magazines. I love “Dans la tête d’un pro” which I watch all the time. I really like this community.

On set, with TPMP, you don’t talk a lot about poker, more about tennis, another of your passions…
Yes, we talk more about tennis and padel. At the moment, it’s a bit of a showdown between tennis and padel (laughs). On the set of TPMP, we are several to play poker. Benjamin (Castaldi) loves to play, Jean-Michel Maire too. Cyril (Hanouna) is also a good player, Guillaume Genton too. We haven’t had time to measure up on a table yet. We just did a poker op with Jean-Luc Lemoine and Jean-Michel Maire, but it was more recreational than anything else.

Is tennis your second big passion along with poker?
Oh yes, clearly. It has been my historical, absolute passion since I was 12 years old. I follow all the tournaments, I even wrote a book on Marion Bartoli. I also made a documentary on Roland Garros (“In The French”) and wrote articles for “Tennis Magazine”. It’s a big passion for me, it’s my thing.

“I’m a Nadal fanatic”

Are you a good tennis player?
I’m a recreational player, a little club player. I play at least three times a week. I did stages when I was young. I think I’m better at tennis than at poker! But, at a poker table, as long as you don’t move, you can’t know if you’re good or not. In tennis, you can bluff less. If we spread out like a tank (sic) or if we have bad technique, we see right away that we suck.

Are you a fan of certain players or certain players more than others?
Ah me, I’m completely “Nadalian” I’m a fanatic of Rafael Nadal. I’m a fan of his game, his fighting spirit, his pugnacity, his mind, his humility, his intelligence. I also loved Serena (Williams). I had the chance to greet her when I was doing my documentary on Roland Garros and I admit that it was a great moment, a dream to meet this diva. I love her looks, her body, her style, I find her absolutely imperial.

As for Nadal, is it the tennis player who fascinates you more than the man himself or is it a set?
All. I find the man fantastic. His values, everything he conveys, I love.

Nadal should no longer drag on the courts. Have you already found a new favorite among the next generation? We obviously think of Carlos Alcaraz…
Alcaraz, you have to see. I do not know. There are many others: Tsitsipas, Medvedev, Ruud, Rune. But we will have to hang on to overtake the prize list of Nadal, Federer or Djokovic.

Are you impressed by what Caroline Garcia is currently doing?
Yes, it’s amazing. What I find beautiful in his case is his second career. We always say we have two lives, but the second begins when we realize we only have one. And I love this questioning, the way it changed everything. She had this reputation of fragile girl in her head and suddenly, there was this psychological shift. She has magnificent tennis and she is a magnificent champion.

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