Victoria Coren Mitchell - Writer, Broadcaster & Poker Player

Bet Bet Bet: Late Night Poker & X Factor

Monday, 3 October 2011

[Updates at end of post]

First things first: Late Night Poker returns to Channel 4 tonight (sometime after midnight) with me and James Akenhead doing the commentary. I haven’t done poker commentary for ages and really loved going back to it - especially working with James who is pretty new to it but is great, I respect him very much as a player and have really enjoyed the chance to chat with him about the game while watching some of the big names at work.

  Each heat is split into two episodes, which means there’s room for a lot of the curious little hands that often don’t make the edit of TV poker shows, but are hugely important to the narrative of the game. I hope you enjoy the series if you watch, and that my commentary doesn’t get in the way. I admit, my instinct is to make jokes if I can think of any, but I do try to talk seriously about the action some of the time… In the first heat (tonight and next Monday), exciting names at the table include Luke “FullFlush” Schwarz, Dan “Jungleman” Cates and the cool chick I just played against in the EPT Ladies’ Tournament last night, Melanie Weissner.

  Now, X Factor. I was quite excited to get home after the poker exertions on Sunday because I knew the market would have gone up on Betfair and I was ready to get stuck in. I tend to bet with my heart on this show - I’ve only been wrong once (on Leona Lewis, mea culpa) and was going to have a big old spin on Jade, my far-and-away second favourite contestant this year. (Who’s first? We’ll get to that.) I’m puzzled to discover she didn’t make it. Why not, why not? Surely she had the best voice of all of them? Even I might buy an album of her singing, and I really don’t buy a lot of albums. Her voice is original and very special, and she’s a girl who touches the heart; I cried buckets during her audition. Not that that means much. I’m a sucker for the auditions bit, I cry throughout. Then it gets to “judges’ houses”, the contestants all start crying and I stop.

Can they really have been too dumb to pick the best singer of the lot, when they had 16 spaces? The suspicion is there that Jade will return as a surprise contestant next week - which would be lovely from a viewing point of view, but would really screw up the market. It would mean that all the bets made and laid this week are at the wrong price.

  She might not come back, of course. There are rumours, theories and gossip about why she’s not in, to do with her background. And, furious though I am not to see lovely Jade in the line-up, I’m not necessarily angrier than I was when they failed to put Gamu Nenghu through - perhaps the most talented auditionee ever - and she never came back.

  I was planning to put my betting tips here tonight, but I am a bit thrown by the Jade-absence / Jade-return possibility. I’ll put a few down anyway. For those who don’t use betting exchanges but are interested to read on anyway: I bet on Betfair, this isn’t like having a simple bet to win with a high street bookmaker. What you aim to do is bet on people whose price you think is too long, then lay them (take someone else’s bet on them) when the price gets shorter. And vice versa. For example, you back somebody to win at 10/1 (though it would be listed as “11” because it’s decimal betting) and hope they do well: if they do, their price moves in to something shorter, say, 5/1. Then you bet against them. If you get the balance right, you achieve a situation where you’re winning money whatever happens.

  For now, I would say very cautiously that the errors I’d see in the current pricing are on Frankie Cocozza and Misha Bryan. Both are potential winners for me, and at 11 (10/1) and 15 (14/1) respectively are priced too long: I’ve had both bets. For me, Janet Devlin is a false favourite. I’m sure she’ll do well, but I don’t think she’s the winner. At 5 (4/1) I think she could be a lay - but she might come in before she goes out, so it could be too early for that move.

  I also think it’s wrong that “2 Shoes” are currently lying in 4th place of the groups. I believe they will not be the first group to go out; I think they might prove quite popular. But I don’t think there’s a way to bet on that.

  Lastly, I’ve had a bet for the sheer hell of the thing on my favourite contestant: Johnny Robinson. I LOVE that guy. I might return to him in a later blog. I can’t really tip him fully because he’s a long-shot to win, but at 65 (64/1) I have snapped some up myself. He may well be the kind of guy who’ll stick around for a long time and should come in (perhaps to be laid later as he probably won’t win.) I love him too much not to back him at that kind of price. I’m on.

  Let me please add that all of this stuff is in the shadow of the possibility that new people will join next week, making all the current prices completely wrong. That’s why I haven’t bet too heavily on Frankie and Misha, despite them striking me as the value on the list as it stands right now. (Them and Johnny). So… if you’re betting, bet with care. Then again, that’s always my advice, isn’t it?

  UPDATE, October 8th: Just watched the first live show. Hmmmm, I might have been wrong about Janet Devlin… But if you followed my tip and bet Misha B, you’ll see she has tonight come in by a full 8 points, from 14 to 6, and gone second favourite.

  UPDATE October 11th: Naturally, my small recommendation of 2 Shoes was based on them being popular with the public and surviving surprisingly long, I’m EXTREMELY ANNOYED that they got booted off before the public vote! I think it was a mistake. This isn’t really a music show, it’s Saturday night family light entertainment; this year is far too low on characters. 2 Shoes would have been a lot more fun than two indistinguishable boy bands; they were spirited and funny and different, a wider range of people would have liked them. An error to throw them off, I think, in entertainment terms.

  UPDATE October 16th: re Frankie, mea culpa. I assumed he’d be able to hold a tune, and go on to do well in the popularity contest. I didn’t realise he’d be unable to sing a single note correctly. Awkward. I now think the final three will be Misha, Janet and The Risk (though Johnny MIGHT get in there), and have adjusted my betting position accordingly.

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Philip at 6:21 am on October 3rd, 2011

Victoria, I’m no expert in these matters but I think you may be going mad.

Victoria Coren at 9:18 am on October 3rd, 2011

Ha! I promise I’m not. Or at least, I don’t think I am.

  I’ve been betting on these shows for years. I quite enjoy watching them anyway, and betting makes it a lot more fun. It’s been quite lucrative, I’m not bad at spotting the people who’ll be popular with audiences. I sometimes get it wrong, obviously. But I get it right often enough that I don’t think I’m a lunatic for carrying on! I know this might seem like an intricate post about the ins and outs, but it will be interesting to others who bet on it, or have thought about doing that.

Ken Singtone at 10:06 am on October 3rd, 2011

I’m really looking forward to Late Night Poker.  I always enjoy hearing what you have to say, and I am a great fan of jokes.  I am also lucky enough to be someone who finds your voice intensely pleasurable rather than irritating. 
I’m not usually a fan of X-factor, but you make it sound interesting, a sort of “bets-factor”.
Given your reservations, however, I think I may just stick with horse race betting in the type of races that I have some success with.  Good Luck, Victoria, and thank you for your blogs - I always enjoy them.

psychofant at 10:33 am on October 3rd, 2011

victoria, when i worked in the NHS, many of my female colleagues read “HELLO” magazine, and claimed that this glossy drivel was read by people with a high IQ. can this possibly be true? and if it is, does it explain why an intelligent, highly educated woman like you loves the sub-banal X-FACTOR?  is it a female thing? a sort of vaudeville version of gossip?

JGB at 11:13 am on October 3rd, 2011

I like the fact that Goldie quit. She was asked to be on the live shows, then apparently said no because she realised she was going to be the joke candidate. X Factor is great Saturday night entertainment and some of the singers are really impressive but it’s true there’s often a joke one who people laugh at and it’s very classy of Goldie to choose not to be that, even at the expense of TV exposure and income. That shows dignified principles.

Victoria Coren at 11:30 am on October 3rd, 2011

psycho: no, your Hello story wouldn’t explain why people enjoy the X Factor, it would just be another example. I’m not a Hello reader myself but the pictures can be fun. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with light entertainment. Life can’t be all Goethe and cabbage soup.

JGB: I agree with you about Goldie. If the reason given in the press for departure is true, that shows good insight and, as you say, dignity.

psychofant at 12:05 pm on October 3rd, 2011

victoria, i dont think there is anything wrong with light entertainment. As for goethe ,i find him unreadable, perhaps he and schiller could have appeared on X-FACTOR? As a duo, STURM UND DRANG would be seriously funny! as for cabbage soup, it has the same effect on my gastric system as X-FACTOR! my earlier comment was not an attack on your viewing habits,but genuine puzzlement. i know millions watch X-FACTOR,BIG BROTHER,  etc, but i just dont get it.

sbedvek at 2:04 pm on October 3rd, 2011

Good luck Victoria, have done a fair bit of trading on reality shows myself before (along with the footy and F1) and will doubtless be in again this time.  Nothing on yet though.

Mark Page at 4:52 pm on October 3rd, 2011

“Late Night Poker returns to Channel 4 tonight (sometime after midnight) with me and James Akenhead doing the commentary.”

Thank God for that, these warm nights have been keeping me awake.

E Kerr at 12:10 am on October 4th, 2011

“if you’re betting, bet with care.” .... I’m careful, but I usually bet with Betfair or Betdaq.
“2 Shoes” ...strange name for a group, but perhaps, despite the footwear shortage, they will limp their way to success.
“Johnny Robinson. I LOVE that guy”.  .... Meanwhile, myriads of poker players, Observer readers, and Only Connect fans sigh..“Victoria Coren,  I LOVE that woman”..

Thank you channel 5 ( ) for some great camera shots of Victoria’s legs. Michael Winner had no idea….

[MOD: I’m afraid the middle section had to be edited for excessive compliments. Note forum rules: nothing too nasty, or too nice either.]

E Kerr at 6:28 pm on October 4th, 2011

I’m really rather thrilled to have my post edited, Victoria.

Obviously, you have to maintain some sort of balance on your own site, & I am sure other visitors to this site can work out their own compliments for you.
My “excessive compliments” are of course totaly sincere, heartfelt and true, but they are intended as support and encouragement, & not to elevate you to any sort of superiority.
They are also there to maintain balance in the wider world. 

I say this to other readers.

I read the nasty unpleasant things written about Victoria as well as the nice things.
I hope that Victoria herself mainly encounters the good stuff and that those of us with a positive views about Victoria and her work, continue to make sure that there is plenty of good stuff out there.

AndytheDealer at 8:36 pm on October 4th, 2011

Splendid, that’s Christmas sorted!

Victoria Coren at 11:23 pm on October 4th, 2011

E Kerr: thank you, that’s very kind of you. Out there in the wider web-o-sphere, some people do say ridiculously nice and overblown things, others say really horrible and cruel and unnecessarily nasty things. They kind of balance each other out, to help me retain a relatively normal human combination of self-esteem and self-loathing!

Jean Le Seul at 12:06 pm on October 5th, 2011

Euan, Merci beaucoup

Mon Dieu, cettes jambes magnifiques!!!

Ken Singtone at 1:04 pm on October 5th, 2011

Oh joy! I may finally get to see it.
...Hay Sessions 2011. Victoria Coren talks to Rosie Boycott about her book For Richer, For Poorer: Confessions of a Player, which traces her steps into the world of professional poker
  Mon, 10th October, 6am on Sky Arts 1 HD, 6am Sky Arts 1

Phil Pearson at 7:24 am on October 23rd, 2011

I have to ask now, you bet on Frankie and Misha cant be filling you with pride. Frankie is… well, this is a family website, and Misha has been brought out to be a 16 year old bully/diva. A group will never win apparently, but the risk are not that bad.

On a side note, fans of the Risk are called Riskettes. So by sheer default, fans on Frankie Cocozza are the Cocettes? :)

Jason Twigg at 8:31 pm on November 21st, 2011

Not wishing to interrupt the humour of your 18.11.2011 thread, this one seems a good place to congratulate you on your near win in the IPF poker tournament.  Well played, Victoria.
I was also wondering if the fact that you did not have to pay a buy-in stake for this tournament, together with the stated aim of the IPF to structure their tournaments so as to make Poker more of a game of skill, might change the tax situation on any prize money.  It seems more like the prize money in a snooker tournament tax-wise than tax exempt winnings from gambling.  Put 50% aside, perhaps, just in case.  (I don’t know if sports prize money is taxable, but I would have thought so for professionals at least.)
On the plus side, Age UK should be able to claim back tax on your kind donation.

Victoria Coren

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