Victoria Coren Mitchell - Writer, Broadcaster & Poker Player

Cards, song contests, anything but work

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Well, I didn’t go out on day one of the London EPT. I went out late on day two, in 38th place for £11,419. (TT v. KK on a small flop. Given the pre-flop betting and the relative chip counts, an inescapable coup). At the time, of course, I was gutted – only 37 people away from a historic double and an undeniably useful £1,000,000.

But, by the next day, I was very happy that I’d played good poker, and able to appreciate with my restored sanity that £11,000 is a serious amount of money. However much poker I play, I really am keen not to lose touch with the real world. We all scrape the last butter from the rim of the tub before opening a new one; the day I remain miserable for more than a night about winning “only” £11,000, it’s time to stop playing and invent a device for slapping myself round the face.

I was back today for the PokerStars High Rollers event at the Vic. I hoped as always for a soft table and, indeed, there they sat: Scott Fischman, Sorrel Mizzi, Gus Hansen, Daniel Negreanu. William Thorsson and Bertrand ‘ElkY’ Grospellier. Good. The six horsemen of the apocalypse.

According to Poker News, this was officially named “the table of death”. Some people say they “prefer to take on good players than idiots”. They’d have been welcome to swap with me…

In the end, it didn’t make much difference. In the middle of level two, I raised up to 700 with AK. Fischman and Mizzi called behind; Negreanu raised 3000 more from the button. I could have stuck it all in then and there, but I hate to do this with AK. Especially in this situation: I thought it not unlikely that these players might look at me as the soft touch on the table, and I had always planned to play a little gently, in order to give them the opportunity to keep betting at me if they missed their flops.

The flop came Ad 4c 7d. I bet out 8000 and Daniel moved all in, just covering my remaining 15,000. Obviously I was calling: he rolled over 2d 5d, and smacked into his flush on the turn. No waiting for Kid Poker.

But I’m fine with this – it feels nothing like the misery of my Tuesday night exit from the WSOPE. Nobody did anything wrong. Daniel was trying, reasonably enough, to nick the raise and the calls from the button. I had a good reason to flat call. Post-flop, we both had legitimate hands to get it all in: I’m about 11/10 favourite but there’s not much in it. I have to bet, Daniel has to move in, I have to call. It’s his lucky day not mine, and the pain came too early to cut deep. I left this event feeling very philosophical. I’m sad that we are coming to the end of such an amazing, enormous poker week in London, but I loved having these events so close to home and I was very happy to cash in my favourite event (or at least, by the next morning I was).

A quick check of the watch, and I was home in time for the official announcement of the X Factor finalists and the market going live! I won’t win a million here, but I’ve won a few thousand in the past.

I’m not so keen on Daniel Evans the single father now. His voice probably just isn’t good enough. But I had a value bet on him at 40/1 anyway. I’m “trading” rather than betting: trying to back the people whose prices will come in, and lay the people whose prices will go out. I can always change my position later.

For now I am betting on Austin to win. He’s got a fantastic voice, he looks all right; his only problem is that he cries too much. Once is fine, every five minutes is annoying. I hope his canny mentor, Simon Cowell, nips that in the bud.

The market has put Alexandra in as favourite, spotting her as the next Leona Lewis. I don’t think so. We’ll see how it pans out: for now I’m on Austin to win, and Daniel to last longer than the other punters seem to think. There’s no price yet for the first eviction, but I’ll be on Ruth the Spanish soloist, and Girlband, as the first to go.

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Ian at 11:35 pm on October 5th, 2008

Unlucky again, at least you had hit the flop, I got someone to call my all in with middle pair and open ended draw and then watched as they hit runner runner for a higher straight.

Yes, they had AKo, be nice if they realised that they had AK high after the flop with a 10 and no chance of a flush.

For info I had Q9s…....<sigh>

If there are even any job interviews going to save you inventing a device I’d appreciate an email…...


It kind of sounds like a scene from the book…...and if there was an interview I could get it signed at the same time.


On a side note I think the guy who came 3rd in the EPT was playing the last festival in the Casino in Warsaw.

Andy the Dealer at 11:39 pm on October 5th, 2008

Ahem, after all that you wrote Vicky, where were the glasses?  You were on great form in today’s Observer.

I’m certain they would have brought you a) Good cards and b) Sympathy on the table of death, not to mention the ability to see me when I was waving at you from across the room, with the forefinger and thumb on each hand forming glasses and the rest of my fingers making up the Dame Edna frames, or was that deliberate?

A big thank-you from myself and all my colleagues at the Vic for the large tip that you left us.  It was much appreciated.

I’m keeping a close eye on your tips for the X-Factor, using a magnifying glass.  No need for glasses here, it’s just that the print on your blog is incredibly small.

Victoria Coren at 12:00 am on October 6th, 2008

Sorry Andy - I was in seat 1, I didn’t need the glasses! Had I known anyone would be waving from across the room, it would’ve been a different story…..

Mike at 9:40 am on October 6th, 2008

I only have a Coral account and they don’t seem to have any X-Factor related bets…though I’m sure I saw ‘Top Judge’ there last week.  Any suggestions where to go just now to bet on the outright winner?

Ian at 10:22 am on October 6th, 2008

Just read the Observer column, do you think that some of the peoples sunglasses in Poker are prescription?

Personally I see Sarah Palin as proof that people are getting less intelligent rapidly - perhaps a side effect of Global Warming that no one has considered.

The Sarah Palin effect? That only works if you are sheep, personally I’d be the one stood off on his own at the other end of the field.

As for glasses? Currently my eyes feel like the only part of my body that works properly (look up ACI knee on Google - I’d kill to only need glasses).....

Victoria Coren at 1:48 pm on October 6th, 2008

I personally make these bets online at - on that site you can bet and lay, which is why I’m initially just trying to select people whose prices will change a lot, so that (if I predict correctly) I can change my position accordingly. But obviously I must stress that you can lose a lot of money doing this, so if you are opening an account then only deposit a small sum and bet CAREFULLY. Don’t go mad and go skint, for God’s sake…

Mike at 2:09 pm on October 6th, 2008

Coral is open now, but may give Betfair a go also.  I note your disclaimer - thanks.  I have better things to lose my rent on than the outcome of The X-Factor**, so think I should be okay.


**and that doesn’t mean Strictly Come Dancing.

Dave P at 7:25 pm on October 7th, 2008

In my case, a passion for cards led me to poker and then to other types of gambling (mostly low stake sports betting). Did you come to poker through an interest in gambling or to other forms of gambling through your interest in poker?

Wayne Gillespie at 11:44 pm on October 7th, 2008

I expect you get a lot of this Victoria, but I’ll say it anyway: I would quite like to see you naked. Any chance?

Victoria Coren at 12:13 am on October 8th, 2008

To Dave: I always loved all forms of gambling. As a kid I played blackjack with my grandfather, and looked forward to Grand National Day (when my dad put bets on for us) as if it was Christmas. I also loved all games - bridge, scrabble, monopoly, whatever - so I loved poker, of course, as soon as I first played it aged around 15. Neither one led me to the other, it all just went together.

To Wayne: it’s October. I will not be naked again until next August at the earliest, even in the bath.

Sam at 3:07 am on October 8th, 2008

Your latest Observer column was fucking hilarious. I’ve just got in from a night out and I am trying to make sense of the latest presidential debate. You’d think we would be without the emotional crap because no one has a dead wife or a retarded child, but apparently not.

I’ve only met two MP’s but have found them both to be people who seek to do what they see as morally right. I can’t imagine US politicians being too different, but the puerile system they have lends itself to underhand tactics.

If only the emotional stuff was deciding something important, like the X-factor, and not something pointless, like the leader of the western world.

At least we can take solace in the fact that I thought glasses looked cool before Sarah Palin linked them to early stage alzheimer’s.

Victoria Coren at 10:40 pm on October 11th, 2008

So much for Bad Lashes as best group… annoying first eviction. Oh well. And Austin’s price has gone out! I’m pressing, I still think he’ll go a long way.

Mike at 10:41 pm on October 11th, 2008

Hmm…not sure about the voting system - seems too easy for this to go to Deadlock week after week, which seems a bit of a cop out.

Josh at 12:00 am on October 12th, 2008

My eye candy has gone! Bad Lashes provided so much potential in every sense, especially for a young man like me.
I would also like to comment that… strangely… I didnt realise Giles was your brother. I am a chef and have worked in three restaurants that he has reviewed. Gratefully all very well.
Good Luck in your upcoming comps, if your luck is better than mine you will break the top ten earners (my last tournament exit was at gt yarmouth grosvener £50 rebuy - 120 runners, got knocked out after calling 4x big blind on the butten with AhAd,  bb moved all in, pre flop raiser folded, he turned over Ac Jh and hit two jacks on the flop, also turned out preflop raiser had Ks Js, i was sick, especially as i would have been chip leader!!!!)
Good Luck

Fitch at 11:28 am on October 12th, 2008

Hello Victoria,
I’m just about halfway though “once more with feeling”. Thank you. I’ve ordered the book about your Dad.
Recently had a stroke so I’m training to be a writer.
Spent 30yrs off my head as a musician.
Would be nice to communicate with you.

dina at 12:32 pm on June 12th, 2009

Obama invited McCain to this year’s White House Super Bowl party. McCain declined the invite. It would have been a chance for politicians from both sides of the aisle the get together with small talk and throw in some real important issues facing the country. McCain doesn’t want to take a leadership role in the GOP-Republican Party - . The guy doesn’t know how to lead. He should thank his lucky stars each day that he was born the son of an admiral.

shane at 2:18 am on January 6th, 2010

hi vicky huge fan of you i love your style of play and you are by far the best looking female player and the best female player out their lol i bought your books cant put them down….i watch you in the sunday million regulary…i play pokerstars but tend to get so many bad beat…whats the best way to build a bankroll online even if its like $250 a week profit what kinda cash room or tourneys should i look at…also how often do you play at the vic live?

Victoria Coren

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