Victoria Coren Mitchell - Writer, Broadcaster & Poker Player

For Richer, For Poorer

Saturday, 26 March 2011

I noticed that a very nice comment had come in from a chap who’d been looking for somewhere to post about my book - and I realize that there isn’t really a relevant thread, for anyone who might have read the new paperback and want to say they liked it / hated it / didn’t understand a bit of it.

  So here one is! Sorry not to write more, but the brevity is only for the excellent reason that I’m drowning in Only Connect questions at the moment, in advance of filming a new series to go out this summer…

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Paul S Rowiston at 12:17 am on March 27th, 2011


Dear Victoria,
I looked for a while, and could not find a better alternative, so I hope this finds its way to you.

I just finished reading the book and type through a veil of tears. It was funny, insightful and endlessly emotional.

A perfect Poker book, perhaps the best I have ever read and every bit as good as I would have expected - but also so much more.

As a Poker player I was enthralled and entertained by this deeply personal examination of the game, as a writer I was simply amazed and enraptured.

Ms Coren, your book has given me great joy and shamed me for the paucity of my own abilities - both at the table and at the typewriter.

Thank you, for the words, the wisdom and the wit ...

Best regards

palladian at 1:27 am on March 27th, 2011

One for OC: what connects the head gardener at Chatsworth, Crystal Palace, a genial American folk singer and a cucumber frame?

...answer freely available on a dinner date at Aux Artistes in Paris. :)

Sian at 9:03 am on March 27th, 2011

I’m part way through reading the book, and really enjoying it. I love how it captures the personalities of the different people, and you can feel as though you know them.

Ken Singtone at 12:33 pm on March 27th, 2011

Thank you Victoria. At last, a proper place to post comments.  Now I will have to read the book again…  I must say that it is just as enjoyable and well written the second time round.  Perhaps it helps that I now know rather more about poker, but it is also a rather well written book.
If you are lucky I might even explain my fondness for page 111. 
However, your kindness on p191 is both humbling and a heartbreakingly honest revelation of your humanity.

Amanda at 7:56 pm on March 27th, 2011

I loved reading your book. It was thoroughly absorbing.

The characters, the predicaments and the game of poker are all treated with such warmth. It draws you in.

The structure of the book was fantastic. It wound together so many different threads in a way that flowed beautifully.

My abiding image from the book is of you throwing into the bin the dinners of the Tuesday Game players because they had continually neglected to say “thank you”!

Alex at 12:24 am on March 28th, 2011

I’m glad too that you have created this thread, although I only finished it 3 days ago (I waited for the paperback because I really hate trying to read hardbacks in bed. It hurts my arms.) I was looking for a place to practice my inner sycophant. I laughed/snorted from page 1 or 2, had to stop reading twice on the bus due to tears, and rang my friend (for whom I bought the hardback at Christmas because he’s a strong boy) frequently to relay paragraphs he’d already read, just because I’d said the same thing to him a day/week/month ago. I had a similar schooling experience to yours (to the point where I was jealous of your exchange week!) and I frequently still feel like the awkward chubby one, so I was inspired a bit (lot) too. ...

Alex at 12:28 am on March 28th, 2011

Poker is one of my therapies for life too, and I’m frequently amazed at the amount of analogies each throws up for the other. ie learning to deal with the bad times. You put it all into the right perspective with a perfect pace to it, much like a river :)
My only complaint is that you wrote the book I someday wanted to. Right down to the big win. But now I know more than ever that humour and grace are the only way to approach life (and poker). Well done on such a brave book. Alex

ps - have had such an excruciating period of coolers recently it has become almost funny. quick quiz: Qh9h in hand, flop jh, 10h, 2h. I raise, opponent goes all in, I call. What does he have? £5 for the correct answer.

Rob at 12:13 pm on March 28th, 2011

I finished reading FRFP last week, and just wanted to say thank you. It was funny, thought provoking, and near impossible to put down! As someone who’s struggled with depression for the last two years, I found the honesty with which you addressed that subject particularly moving. Also a damn riveting poker story, that makes me wish I wasn’t so bad at the game!

PS: Both Waterstones in Norwich now have your book in Biography and on the front-of-shop tables; as well as a few still in Indoor Games (guess that’s all the bases covered).

Sean R at 12:32 pm on March 29th, 2011

A friend loaned me FRFP recently and I took it on a foreign business trip with me last week. I managed to read the first 10 pages only (they were most excellent) because my boss kept talking about work.

The bad news (for me) is that I left it on the plane. The good news (for you, Victoria) is that I will get myself to Waterstones in Hull this weekend to purchase a new copy thus boosting your sales figures. And who knows, perhaps the copy I left on the plane will drum up further trade - I like the thought that some good might spring from my absentminded misfortune…

Looking forward to a new series of OC to brighten up Monday nights,
Sean R

Mike at 8:02 am on March 30th, 2011

Hi Vicky and sorry I have not posted on here for a while.

I liked your book and it gave me a good idea of “what makes you tick” on a personal level as well as being an interesting incite into your passion for poker from a very young age.

I hope the sales of it have improved as a result of your campaign to make it more visible in the bookshops.  All the very best to you.

palladian at 3:19 pm on March 30th, 2011

Was browsing FRFP in Southend Waterstones [5 copies, but in ‘Games & Pastimes’].

“If Amarillo Slim sat down at my table I would get up and walk out.” What? I know he’d never be any feminists dream date, but this seemed a bit harsh. Then read why. Somehow I had missed this over the years.

His ‘In A World of Fat People’ now dumped in the bin. He was one of my early poker heros, but no longer.

Still, makes room on the shelf for your book. Would have bought it on the spot of course, but as, last night, hard-bet flopped top sets were rivered by an inside [!!!] straight two hands in a row [!!!], it will have to wait ‘til pay day. :(

veljko at 12:14 am on March 31st, 2011

Hi victoria,i just want to ask is there any way to buy your book in croatian language or serbian?Does anybody publish your book in this region?

thank you for your answer

Victoria Coren at 2:47 pm on March 31st, 2011

Hi Veljko. I’m afraid not, the only language my poker book has been translated into is Italian. (Oddly, its translated Italian title is “I Love Poker”. Really.)

James at 5:28 pm on March 31st, 2011

The account of the “Grantham Fold” as I’m calling it may well be the funniest paragraph I’ve ever read in print, so thanks for that.

I’m not quite at the end of the book yet, so apologies if this is later revealed, but was Uncle Sid ordered to dispose of his booty over the side of a boat at Dunkirk? If so, I was told a similar story years ago at a family reunion…

And on an unrelated note I should pass on my fiancee’s thanks for your being nice to her in a taxi rank in Edinburgh last September after we’d seen Amateur Transplants. We were all a little the worse for wear and while I was off to find chips you joined the queue behind her. I imagine she’d have been very chatty, but you very kindly laughed along with her rather than at her.

John Grinstead at 7:38 pm on March 31st, 2011

As a long time fan of your father’s work - the Idi Amin collection was compulsory reading as a school boy in the 70’s - of Balderdash and Piffle, of your columns and as a ‘would if I could’ wannabe poker player, I was naturally drawn to FRFP, which I have just finished.  I’m now sorely tempted to get on a plane to Las Vegas or drop in at ‘the Vic’ for a few hands.

A great read - thank you - that conveys your clear enjoyment and excitement of the game, whilst providing a peek into your personal life, trials, tribulations and relationships - hmm, that sounds a bit stalkerish, sorry.

Anyhoo, I hope that you have a great year at the tables and that you continue to benefit from the company of good friends and relatives; friends are better than money after all!

All the best.

Nikki Hutchison at 7:54 pm on March 31st, 2011

Hi Victoria. As a non-player and someone who barely understands the basic rules, I bought this book as I saw it advertised on the London Underground, I loved the title and it was also written by a woman which intrigued me to give it a go. Well, what can I say? At the very first page you had me totally engrossed and I couldn’t put it down until the last page was read.

You have written a brilliantly non-biased story and I would encourage any partner of a poker player to go out and buy a copy. It’s an education and finally I understand my husband’s moments of glory and his moments of defeat. I can’t be the only one to admit that when it’s good you love the game as much as they do, but when it’s bad you can’t help but despise and wish the game of poker didn’t exist! Thank you.

KlooRhee at 4:39 am on April 1st, 2011

Burning bridge is fun to watch from any side that matters.

I so want to read the book but my friend’s girlfriend’s Amazon free postage has run out five and a half hours ago…

Rab McB at 5:22 pm on April 1st, 2011

I “just had to” look up this site after reading the book and now “just had to” post a comment!  What words to use is another matter; certainly “brave, emotional and liberating” but much more ... which others will add more eloquently ... thank you.

mick at 6:47 pm on April 1st, 2011

I am wading through the guardian columns, I am at august ‘09 in one of the links there was a link to a lengthy text including a salt and pepper boat and your dad. Is that from the new book because it moved me.

Chris who? at 7:46 am on April 4th, 2011

Ok, ok, I PROMISE I’ll read it!! ..However, I will have to seek out a public library to do so as unemployment takes its toll and our local library is closing soon but I WILL read it. I KNOW already that it’ll be a great read as I’ve become familiar with your quick wit and eloquence through this blog and your columns - btw. I LOVED your recent “Scoutrage” and “iPod’s in the Commons” articles. I’m a fan, did you guess?

Dr Bob at 11:18 am on April 5th, 2011

Translated into Italian, you say? I’m learning the language at the moment, so maybe that would be good practise. Then again, that would probably be more work than enjoyment, so…

After the good reviews here, I’m planning to get myself a copy to see what the fuss is about. Mind you, I’ve been meaning to buy
“Once More, With Feeling” for quite some time now.

Which is better?

Victoria Coren at 5:37 pm on April 5th, 2011

Hi Bob. Well, they’re very different books. Hand on my heart, For Richer For Poorer is better because it’s just… bigger. It’s about twenty years in an alternative world, and everything I learned from being there. Once More With Feeling is about a quirky six-month adventure.

  I’m genuinely proud of both books, and think both are entertaining reads. Goodness knows, some people might think they’re both terrible, but I don’t. I think OMWF is funnier. But For Richer For Poorer is, in its ambition and scale, better.

palladian at 8:51 am on April 6th, 2011

...thought you might be interested in this from the ancestral home.

In essence the Swedish Supreme Court has ruled that tournament play is a game of skill more than chance, because you have to survive right through a tourney before winning any money; but that a cash game is a game of chance, because you can coup on a single hand then walk away.

What do you reckon?

Dr Bob at 2:04 pm on April 6th, 2011

Bigger, you say? Hmm, seems like better value for money then :)

Think I’ll take a virtual stroll from my desk to my friendly neighbourhood internet bookshop and order a copy. If I enjoy it, I’ll try OMWF afterwards.

Oh, and of course, if I enjoy it I’ll post a glowing review here, naturally!

Sean Rees at 12:23 pm on April 8th, 2011

Hi Vicky,
I have been a poker player for the last 30 years. Home games, internet and the occasional visit to the Vic and other places have filled my life with the kind of experiences you describe so eloquently in your book, which was read cover to cover in two sittings - It would have been one but there was a home game to contend with!
Thank you for such a well written, heartfelt and honest account - It brought joy to my heart and a tear to my eye.

Razors at 3:10 pm on April 8th, 2011

I found FRFP in Waterstone’s, Aylesbury, in the ‘indoor games’ section. I moved a couple of copies to ‘biographies’ before taking mine to the till.

It’s an absolutely fantastic book. I laughed, I cried, I cheered at the end (despite knowing how it was going to finish). You’ve gone even higher in my estimation, which I didn’t think possible.  ;-)

seven2off at 7:48 pm on April 8th, 2011

I read it last April, didn’t think it was a funny book as a lot of high profile reviewers seem to, more an honest reflection of your surreal journey eloquently put to paper. Was expecting a laugh a minute from the excerpts I read on the Hendon Mob website, but real life’s not like that of course. Particularly enjoyed reading about your first forays to the Vic and repeated failed attempts to make it to the card tables there, settling for the anonymity of the roulette table, and the inevitable consequences that brought. But my favourite part as I recall, was of you returning from a late game one winter night and tucking a twenty in to some unfortunate’s coat while he slept on a bench in the freezing cold, I loved that bit the most, hope he made it to breakfast.

Great read, should be proud.

MarkP at 8:43 pm on April 11th, 2011

I think you should take up Robert Llewellyn’s offer and go on Carpool. It would be a very good way to plug your book and as an aide-memoire you could get him to give you a lift to a bookshop, a ploy used by (I think) David Baddiel. I love this show, and it’s just a chat whilst you get a lift to somewhere.

dunc at 10:56 pm on April 12th, 2011

Hi Vicky,
I went on to Amazon to buy an ethernet cable and, as usual, they threw up a load of poker books as ‘recommendations’ based on my previous purchases. In amongst them was your Jeffrey Archeresque titled poker tome and as it was only £5.99 I chucked it in my (virtual) basket. I received it the next day and read it almost in a oner (though I’m still waiting for the ethernet cable). I think if I ever write a book I’d be very interested in the opinion of its readers so I’d like you to know it’s probably the best poker book i’ve read (and I’ve read loads), probably because I know most of the people mentioned from Late Night Poker etc and it’s nice to get a bit of background on them. Also, I was a great fan of your dad. His intelligent humour is greatly missed on tv. All the best and gl

John Robertson at 6:48 pm on April 13th, 2011

There’s a new quote you can use on the cover of the next edition - ‘more appetising than a cup of crushed Shredded Wheat with UHT milk and water on it’.

You, probably, need the context so see Richard Herring’s daily discourse for Tuesday 12th April at

He does, actually, say some very nice things about it.

Clare at 10:30 am on April 21st, 2011

I bought this one evening in WHSmith at Victoria Station, from a pile on a (pleasingly) prominent table, and devoured most of it in one sitting. It’s beautifully written and moved me to tears on several occasions. At the end, I felt like I knew all the characters personally, and would love to go to the Vic, despite not even knowing the rules of poker. On a personal note, it’s only a minor passage in the book but I loved your description of the ‘macho Yeats scholars’ at Oxford….oh yes, I remember the type…Please write more. I’m recommending this to everyone I know.

Saki at 2:40 pm on April 24th, 2011

I’ve been rationing the chapters to prolong the pleasure, as it were.  Until I reached ‘Desperado’.  And it’s left me in bits…  I’ve been going through something similar the past couple of years, so it has resonance.  I’m now devouring the book in gulps.  Thank you for writing it, it’s a gem.  Definitely a keeper (I usually sell most of my books).

Acb at 5:19 pm on April 26th, 2011

I read FRFP some months ago in hardback and really enjoyed it. But today I noticed it sat on my bookshelf between Richard Dawkins and Paul O’Grady. About right would you say?

schmeerlap_124 at 5:41 pm on April 26th, 2011

I’m halfway through your confessions and liking your writing style. However, I’m looking forward to your follow up when I’m sure you’ll let us know what happened when you called this guy’s bluff.

jackie harding at 8:38 pm on April 27th, 2011

Dear Victoria,
I don’t know the first thing about poker,but have enjoyed Only Connect so thought I would give FRFP a go.
I laughed, I was moved by your kindness, I wanted to smack your awful schoolfriends,I was humbled by your courage and open mindedness.
I loved the book and am going to send a copy to my son,who enjoys playing poker !
Good luck to you, you’re a lovely person.

val reed at 7:52 pm on April 28th, 2011

Dear Vicky:
Your book FRFP is a great read. And
the sensitivity with which you unveil so many different parts of poker and life is delightful and often very very funny.

Steve Young at 10:20 am on May 4th, 2011

I am reading your book at the moment and have to say what a thoroughly entertaining read it is.  I play in our local LPPL pub league and have recently won a seat at a team event at Dusk Till Dawn, it will be my first time playing in such an event and wondered if there was any advice to ease nerves and enjoy the experience.



Victoria Coren at 1:47 am on May 5th, 2011

Hi Steve. Well, for technical and strategic poker thoughts, go to the “poker” page of this site and click “poker advice”.

But you ask specifically how to relax and enjoy this upcoming tournament - which, in my opinion, is absolutely the right and most important question.

I’d say three things. I ALWAYS advise people (at any level) that the key thing is never to play for sums you can’t comfortably afford. In this case, you’ve won the seat for free! So I would keep that in your head at all times. You’ve got a brilliant opportunity to play with absolutely no down side of losing money. Remind yourself of this, at any point when you feel nervous; you’d feel a lot more nervous if you had £500 on the line! This is a rare shot to be free of that concern.

The second thing I’d say is, take your time at the start. Get a feel for the table before making any big moves. For the first few levels, if the blinds are very small (say, a hundredth of your stack) you can certainly limp in to a few pots (with pairs or suited connectors), to give yourself the chance to play a bit and get your eye in cheaply - there shouldn’t be any danger of getting knocked out at that stage, so you can get some hands under your belt before the blinds are dangerous - but be ready to give up on the flop if you only make half a hand, like middle pair.

Other than that, pass a lot. Tell yourself you’re just relaxing and watching some poker, only you have the fun of being in the middle of the action! This has the double benefit of not getting yourself knocked out too quickly and failing to have an experience, and - better still - getting a feel for the other players, working out who’s a dangerous opponent and who you’d rather play against, before you get too involved.

  Lastly, don’t bother bluffing unless your chips reach an emergency state and you have to. Bluffing is much more stressful (and usually less lucrative!) than just value-betting your good hands.

Good luck, and I hope you have an enjoyable tournament.

James at 5:17 pm on May 9th, 2011

Tore through this in a couple of days and absolutely loved it.Thanks so much for sharing such an interesting story (and such interesting characters) with us.This is the bit where my post gets a bit weird.The book echoes my experiences in the world of cage fighting - honestly.The story of coming from a position of being an outsider to acceptance to victory is something I felt a little familiarity with.I was a polite middle class boy,got involved in a sport that some may see as ‘shady’,became a well respected journalist in it,competed and then tried to explain to everyone I met that I don’t (or didn’t now) do it for the reasons that everyone thought I did.There are more comparisons but I guess that the point I’m trying to make is that its a story that transcends poker and a great one at that

Steve Young at 11:36 am on May 16th, 2011

Many thanks for your advice regarding the tournament I was in.  I had a fantastic weekend of poker.  Didn’t cash, but out of the 3 events we played as part of the team tournament I bubbled in two of them and was a very good way of introducing myself to that kind of environment.

Just testing out something, to see if an incredibly drunk guy on the Friday night is winding me up or not…..... Matt Dale says hi.  When I was chatting about your book he was sitting with us and said oh yes I know her.



Victoria Coren at 12:12 pm on May 16th, 2011

Hi Steve. Yes sure I know Matt Dale - haven’t seen him for a while, but have met him lots of times. Please tell him hello and good luck from me.

Matt at 3:52 pm on July 26th, 2011

Hi Victoria

Loved the book, so went on Amazon and ordered Once More with Feeling.

Duly delivered, sat down with Nice Pot of Tea, and discovered…the cover of the book is the right one. The book printed inside, however, is ‘The Age of Consent’ by George Monbiot. I did check, and it was definitely tea in the pot.

Utterly bizarre? Or is there some inside gag I’m not aware of?

Victoria Coren at 12:04 am on August 1st, 2011

Hi Matt. That really is one of the oddest things I’ve ever heard. Are you sure?! Have you spoken to Amazon? Do you know if they somehow… printed it themselves? I don’t know what to make of it, it’s weird weird weird.

Sabre Biscuits at 10:48 am on August 15th, 2012

Dear Victoria,

the book was awesome - both my wife and I read it this summer and despite not really playing the game, loved it.

It’s just so refreshing to find a person who is prepared to write with intelligence, wit, insight, and who expects more of the reader…the book makes a mockery of the “Big Brother / Chat magazine / Radio 1” breathless clamour of superficial nonsense, where the humour always degenarates into “aren’t we all thick”

The book is brilliant.

Jonathan at 2:52 pm on January 2nd, 2016

I read FRFP when it was first published having been a long term fan of your work from the Daily Telegraph column days. It inspired me to play a little on-line and in pub tournaments. A few weeks ago I made it onto the final table at the Vic in a little tournament. Poker at its best is a phenomenally developmental experience. I have you and your book to thank. There are those who think I have developed a gambling problem - I just suggest that they read your fabulous book.

Victoria Coren

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