Victoria Coren Mitchell - Writer, Broadcaster & Poker Player

Done & Dusted On Paradise Island

Friday, 9 January 2009

30th. Absolutely can’t complain. 30th out of 1387 players, $40k banked, giving me decent stats on the EPT 2008/9 season - so far I’ve played four events (Barcelona, London, Budapest, Nassau) and cashed in two. 50% results seems decent enough to me. Were it not for the generosity of my lovely sponsors PokerStars, I would have paid out $32,000 for the four tournaments and got back $60,200. That gives me a bit of encouragement that, should they ever take their generosity away again, I can afford to carry on playing…

  So, that’s the self-consoling out of the way. Obviously I was gutted to go out, so close, so close. Maybe I could have played today’s key hand differently? But I was never going to. I started with 400k in chips, blinds 8k-16k with a running 1500 ante. This has been a very aggressive tournament, and I knew that I couldn’t open-raise with a hand that I wasn’t prepared to call a reraise (or call all-in) with. Open raises just haven’t been getting through, and it would be stupid to put in 40k out of 400 if I’d probably have to fold. So I knew that I either had to find a hand where I wanted the action, or stick to chunky reraises and hope to push people away.

  Then I found 66 in the big blind. It isn’t a sparkling hand, especially when someone raises to 40k under the gun. But after yesterday, which I spent crawling on my hands and knees through Rag Desert, a pair looked pretty enormous to me. And people are liable to raise my BB more often than others, for predictable reasons. I thought I might be able to take Jason Paster (who only had about 380,000 himself) off the hand; he could be targeting the vulnerable blind of a “tight” player, and he’d probably believe me for something pretty strong. Besides, if he held AK or AQ, I wanted him to call. I was hungry to double up, and would have embraced a race very happily. I reraised to 200k, effectively signalling my commitment for all my chips, but trying to look a little stronger than a straight all-in might. Jason thought for a long time, then moved in (which I had to call, obviously) with tens. Oh well. This left me with a bit of shrapnel, which I doubled up once but then ran into QQ the second time. Should I have just passed the sixes? Maybe, but I was never going to. Should I have tried a stop-go, flat-calling and moving on the flop ? Maybe, but there was no ace there so he’d most likely have called right away. Should I have gone all-in rather than making it 200,000? Maybe, maybe. There are always options with hindsight.

  Never mind. The day I start thinking that $40,000 isn’t a lot of money, I’ve gone mental and need to retire from the game. Besides, this is a fantastic place, the sun is shining, and I have a day left to try and get a tan. (If you’d like to have a look round the resort, escorted by someone whacked out on valium, staring madly and shot from a staggeringly unflattering angle, enjoy…)

  I’ve met some great people - I’ve decided that the Canadians are the second nicest nation in the world, after the Danish. And (as I like to do when going abroad) I have increased my foreign language skills. Even though most people in the Bahamas speak English, I have added “insta-three-jamming” to my vocabulary, and I intend to use it frequently. No longer will I “come back over the top” or “reraise all in”, I will “insta-three-jam”, and that will take the years off me faster than Botox.

  I’ll definitely come to the PCA again, it’s a great tournament in a great place. Sounds silly but the climate is a really big factor for those of us coming from Europe - it reminds me of the WSOP when it happened in the spring, before they moved it to an intolerably hot time of year which is really hard to combine with a holiday. This is just lovely for walking around, loads to do, great service and friendly atmosphere, accommodation at all different prices, plenty of poker action and poker players but enough opportunity and space to get away from that for a while when you need to. I’m a total PCA convert.

  Besides, if I had never come here, I might never have seen Boris Becker smoking. What a highlight! The whole “physical fitness in poker” thing has never worked for me; all this sportswear and bottled water takes me back to the nightmare of school netball. I got into poker for the late nights, the junk food and the liver damage. So, in a world of kids in tracksuits, I was delighted to see the world-class athlete Boris Becker relaxing outside the card room in all his flame-haired glory, a genuine icon of physical perfection, puffing away on a foul Cohiba.

  “On the next break”, I told Boris, “I hope to see you guzzling Coke and gorging on doughnuts”.

  “Doughnuts?” shouted Boris, his eyes lighting up. “Oh, sure! I vish I hed vun now.”


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Andy W at 2:46 am on January 10th, 2009

TO be honest Vicky, I really don’t think people target the BB when they’re raising under the gun .. I think it’s a fold pre imo (as we say).  Good effort though, and nice shout for QPR on the commentary !  Enjoy the rest of your stay,


Victoria Coren at 6:35 am on January 10th, 2009

Not yours maybe… but the fact is, after we got into the money on day two/three, I saw a fair few people raising my blinds (including UTG) and then passing for reraises from others before it even got round to me.. It’s the most aggressive live tournament I’ve ever played (possibly cos also the one with the youngest field and biggest proportion of online qualifiers, so they’re all both immortal and in cheap) and I swear to God they’ll raise from anywhere with anything!

  But I admit there were two factors that got in the way; one was the desert of cards on day 3, which made me fearful that day 4 would be the same way and 66 might be the best hand I saw during the “must move” phase. And another factor was that I was on the feature table, the TV table; these always make me nervous (the chosen feature table of a big MTT, as opposed to a specific studio-based televised event) - even an experienced old TV pro like me can be affected by the cameras, and I get weirdly worried about playing too weak so I probably over-compensate. Chances are, with nobody looking at my cards and nobody doing live commentary, I might have quietly slipped the sixes into the muck.

  But I might not’ve.

  And hey - there were two other sixes in the deck, right…?


R at 12:59 pm on January 10th, 2009

Congratulations!! What a way to start a year! Niiiiiice!

I’m still a bit baffled by that wine/coke stunt at the start of the WCP. 

What was the point of that :-) :-) :-)

Who informed the commentators?

Btw:  I bluffed my way to second place yesterday night in a pretty big live tournament - (niiiice! my first live cash in weeks and my biggest so far). Juheeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

David Bodycombe at 2:29 pm on January 10th, 2009

So it’s come to this: smileys.

Well played. “Best of a bad situation” cases are a source of endless fascination. It seems crazy that, say, J2 or 67s are slightly better cards to go in with against tens than sixes, but they are.

I have a theory that the Scandanavian style of play-any-hand is an example of swarm theory in action. Even if they play crazy, if there’s enough of them around one will get lucky and win on behalf of the flock. But there’s nothing more satisfying than shooting down a hyper-aggressive player when you’ve checked after hitting trips on the flop.

Victoria Coren at 11:32 pm on January 10th, 2009

“Swarm theory”, I like that. Just right.

But “wine/coke stunt” ? What wine/coke stunt? I wasn’t listening to the commentary, I was at the table…

R at 6:32 pm on January 11th, 2009

Well, I don’t remember exactly (why, oh, why??)...

You asked the table if someone wanted to have a glass of wine with you. When the waiter arrived (and you jumped up to tip him), the commentators said that they were just informed that it was actually coke in the cup, not wine - and that you, tricky Vicky, are obviously playing mind games.

That’s what I faintly recollect. Never mind! Whatever/whoever was behind all this, it was rather amusing :-)

Victoria Coren at 12:12 am on January 12th, 2009

Not sure what that was about, it was definitely wine. Red wine. Though if I’d suddenly found, at the same moment, that I NEEDED a paint-stripper…

R (...high on caffeine and statutes) at 2:52 pm on January 12th, 2009

I see ...

Huuhuuuu, it seems that we are witnessing a truly shady mystery story unfold .... Whatever. I’m no criminal lawyer (... but I might become an elderly High Court judge one day, who knows!)

I also followed se German and the French commentary a bit ... ... and the English were the only ones ‘informed’, that’s for sure.

Se Germans even cracked a few jokes about you ‘putting your wine goggles’ on to see your team’s performance .... pretty funny, concededly!

John at 6:07 pm on January 12th, 2009

I enjoyed reading your blogs about the tournament, but being less than nimble in the card stakes the only poker reference I understood was Eric Morecambe.  There appears to be a whole new world into which I’ve yet to dip my toe.  It has everything: sex, intrigue, money, Yank teeth.  And so many great new words.  Flops, mopsy, cottontail… I need a new dictionary.

Andy the Dealer at 3:49 pm on January 14th, 2009

I know it’s none of my business Vicky, but the Bahamas ain’t Paradise.

An ex- colleague of mine, who was living there came home one night to be greeted by two armed robbers who took great delight in tying him to a chair, sticking a pistol in his mouth and threatening to blow his brains out.

He’s never been the same since.

Needless to say, the Bahamas isn’t somewhere I’d like to spend my twilight years.

I should never attempt to give you lessons in poker, BUT…...

Sixes in the BB, facing a raise from UTG.  Bin ‘em, for crying out loud!  The blighter’s even got position on you!!  You’re just a closet Scandi at heart aren’t you?

You wanted to spend some time on the beach methinks?

Victoria Coren at 4:35 pm on January 14th, 2009

Ah, well, in this situation he DOESN’T actually have position - that’s only relevant if we’re going to keep betting gradually over the streets. My aim is ideally for him to pass, or we get it all in and I win a race - either of these things happen pre-flop, so there’s no further action for position to affect. And if by some strange chance he should flat call, then *I’ve* got position, because I get to move in first on the flop, and he’s the one facing the tough decision.
  There are definitely arguments in favour of passing the 66 - and with hindsight, obviously I would’ve done! - but being out of position wasn’t one of them in this case.

Andy the Dealer at 6:36 pm on January 14th, 2009

Vicky, I’m not convinced.  You called his all-in re-reraise which in my book means he had position on you.  If you were prepared to put all the chips in anyway I think you should have put him to the test.  As it was he put you in the horrible position of having to make that call because you’d made a far too sophisticated play in the first place.

Bah! You shouldn’t listen to my advice.  I can barely make it to the money in a 10c added money tournament on PokerStars and you’ve won an EPT!

Was the Valium necessary because you’re afraid of flying?

Victoria Coren at 7:49 pm on January 14th, 2009

Yes - hate flying - although I think I’m getting over it now. Might try it without valium one of these days…

Antoine B at 12:23 am on January 15th, 2009

Hi Vicky, you were so lucky the morning of the WCP at the preliminary table that I was sure you would either go far in the WCP or the PCA.

It sure was a fun event and I hope to see you soon.

Take care,

Victoria Coren

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