Victoria Coren Mitchell - Writer, Broadcaster & Poker Player

... and I’ll be wearing a concrete bra…

Saturday, 25 April 2009

The EPT Grand Final comes round again and I can’t deny, much as I love the tournament, I’m pretty nervous about going back to Monte Carlo after last year. It was certainly the first time I’d ever sent my mother a postcard saying: “I’ve caught the sun, eaten some fish and been sexually assaulted by an Italian billionaire.” (The terrible thing is, I now feel guilty that I got her hopes up.)

  Funny town, Monte Carlo. I love it during the EPT, when “normal people” flood in and the Monegasque super-rich have to grit their teeth while visitors walk round in t-shirts complaining about the price of sandwiches. I liked it better a few years ago when the tournament was right in the central plaza; then the normal people were infiltrating everything, the designer boutiques, the Café de Paris, the bar at the Hermitage. Truly horrific for all the squeamish billionaires and tax-dodging Formula One drivers. Now the EPT has moved down to the Bay there’s more room for the players, but I hate knowing how delighted the locals must be to have us sloughed off into a safe corner.

  Not that you see much of the locals anywhere. The streets are usually deserted, the residents lurking inside their fortified castles, beaches carved up for private use. You never see any poor people at all. I imagine that a giant truck pulls into town at 5am every day and releases an army of them to sweep, clean, paint, empty the bins and get out again before the billionaires wake up. When they see us poker players having a drink outside, they must assume their watches are wrong and they’ve got up at dawn by mistake, then write furious letters to Prince Albert asking why the road-sweepers are being allowed to use the facilities.

  Last year I went uptown to have a spin in the Casino de Monte Carlo and (not for the first time in my life) needed to get some emergency cash off my credit card. To do that, you have to go into a small private credit office at the back. Ahead of me was an Italian midget, dressed like he’d just walked through an explosion in a Versace factory while the trapdoor in a Tiffany’s cargo plane opened over his head, collecting €700,000 in cash. I needed €300. This is the Monte Carlo equivalent of queuing in Safeway behind a woman who’s doing the annual household shop when all you want is a pint of milk.

  He leaned across and ran his chubby fingers along my PokerStars logo. That’s the one that goes across the front of my chest. It’s supposed to get attention but ideally not that sort. I stepped back, at which point the Italian reached forward and grabbed my tits with both hands.

  And here’s the freaky thing. We weren’t alone. The guy had a giant minder; well, I wouldn’t expect him to say anything. But there were also two cashiers from the casino, standing behind the desk. Problem was, they were so excited about counting out his €700,000, they were practically licking his face. They certainly weren’t about to criticize him, never mind warn him that you can get barred for groping the other customers.

  Once I had shoved the guy away, with as much force as you’re likely to use when a man has a giant minder, he took his cash and walked out.

  Then, oh then, the cashiers expressed ‘ow deezgersting it was, must ‘ave been ‘orrible for me, one of them actually saying, “Zees reech people sink zey can be’ave ‘owever zey like.” He seemed unable to make the connection between people thinking they can behave however they like, and his own silence when he saw something completely inappropriate.

  I’m not saying I’m not looking forward to going, course I am. It’s an amazing tournament, and there’s a decent chance of warm sunny weather in what is a beautiful place, in its way. It’s completely the right location for the final of the major European poker series. But, this year, I might hole up in the Bay and give the Casino de Monte Carlo a bit of a swerve.

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Andy W at 7:57 pm on April 25th, 2009

You’ll be very pleased to hear that in my days of gainful employment (how long ago that seems), we were taken to Monte Carlo on a company jolly, and during our visit to the Casino de Monte Carlo one of our number threw up on the carpet.  I’ve never seen a snooty Frenchman move so quickly (to clean it up), I can tell you that.


Paul in Sweden at 10:12 pm on April 25th, 2009

You should maybe try some of the other casinos along the coast at Nice, Juan les Pins and Cannes. They all have cash games, at least they did a couple of years back when I was living there, and the action was good enough to make up for the ridiculous, uncapped rakes.

Victoria Coren at 10:20 pm on April 25th, 2009

O look, there it is now in Goldeneye. Casino de Monte Carlo, Pierce Brosnan’s pulling up and going in. I bet he isn’t going to vomit in there. But he’ll probably grope a few people.

spanther22 at 11:33 pm on April 25th, 2009

yeah sorry about that little incident - id just lost a bundle and had a thumping hangover so was feeling kinda down and some mammary comfort seemed like just the thing to cheer me up

MarkP at 10:59 am on April 26th, 2009

Surely your last two entries are different sides of the same coin.
The guy obviously liked what he saw and thought nothing wrong with having a feel, knowing full well his power/money would get him out of any repercussions. The same goes for Madonna, the fact it quite clearly stated you couldn’t adopt unless you were a resident of the country meant nothing to her and again thought her power/money would make it alright.

Victoria Coren at 12:57 pm on April 26th, 2009

Well.. sort of. Except the object of one was to take a child from an underprivileged orphanage and give her a proper home, having donated $3m to help educate other children in the region; the object of the other was to make sure a stranger was groped. If there is any argument in the end justifying the means, I say Madonna is on stronger ground than my lusty billionaire friend…

Mum at 3:54 pm on April 26th, 2009

Concrete bras give you terrible posture though. And remember not to go swimming in one.

MIchael at 10:56 pm on April 26th, 2009

He may think his money means he can get away with anything, however, a swift kick to the testicles is hard to get out of.

Rabbit at 11:27 pm on April 27th, 2009

Best of luck in MC. Don’t kiss any Mexicans.

Frank at 11:57 am on April 29th, 2009

Vicky! Im disgusted at that mans behaviour! I struggle to concentrate on your game when ive watched you play on tv! All i can say is…...the dirty rotten LUCKY BARSTEWARD! id give you 5 bucks just to brush past you!..... lol
The other thing you wrote about on-line table manners! I’m a *****ING terrible bad loser! BUT ...ive taken your comments, and will try so hard to zip it in future! Ya points were valid and have substance!
tata FF.

Shy Guy at 3:09 pm on April 30th, 2009

if I had that sort of money and you were stood close by…..

I’d ask first though

Rabbit at 4:11 pm on April 30th, 2009

Commiz Vic. Always next time.

daniel maris at 2:06 am on August 26th, 2009

How many billionaires are there on the planet? I think we could narrow this down.

Start with Berlusconi!

Victoria Coren

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