Victoria Coren Mitchell - Writer, Broadcaster & Poker Player

Glittering Prizes

Saturday, 14 August 2010

I’ve been nominated for an award! Very exciting. It’s for “Contribution to Poker” in the British Poker Awards. I felt a bit odd about it at first because some of the other nominees have made enormous contributions to poker over the years, with which it feels strange and almost rude to be competing, but the editor of Bluff magazine tells me that it’s “pretty much for this year” - and of course, my poker book came out which needs ALL THE HELP IT CAN GET.

  For a lifetime achievement thing, I’d be embarrassed to look even vaguely interested in taking on Anthony Holden or Jesse May - or pretty much anyone on the list - but if this were a lifetime achievement category, where is Al Alvarez, or John Duthie, or Nic Szeremeta or The Hendon Mob? No, I shall take on face value that this is for the last 12 months, in which case I would DEFINITELY like my little book to be in with a shot of best contribution to poker, so please help me avoid getting no votes at all!

  But what if you’ve read the book and want to vote (for or against, up to you; if voting against, any of its rivals are highly eligible) but aren’t familiar with everyone in the other categories? Here are my thoughts:

I’ll be voting for my friend Neil Channing, who has done wonders to spread the popularity of poker, both with his own sparkly personality and the time he has put in this year to launch the BlackBelt poker website. He’s a great cash player and has been working like a horse. Or there’s Ben Roberts, the most gentlemanly gentleman in all of poker, who has been beating the cash games all over the world for decades and is inspirational in his general attitude and his behaviour at the table.

Here, I’d probably choose between Praz Bansi and James Dempsey, who both won first-prize bracelets at this year’s World Series of Poker and helped Britain break the record for number of bracelets won by any nation outside America in a single series.

In this category, I personally would vote for Richard “Chufty” Ashby because he was another of the five heroic Brits who gave us the bracelet record at the WSOP. He smashes it up online. Other notables are Ben Grundy (who used to write a poker column in the Telegraph), Chris Moorman (who seems to have mastered the internet) - or, as a wild card, Luke “FullFlush” Schwarz who is the biggest character here. He has a bad boy image, making terrible remarks in TV games; I worry about that kind of thing, but it definitely draws more viewers to televised poker and he’s a sweet and lovely chap when you meet him.

Phil Ivey is the greatest tournament player of the modern age. Tom Dwan is also a genius. Either of those would be deserving winners. Isildur1 is a mysterious figure who beat all the big players online, but remains anonymous and nobody knows who he is.

I haven’t played in any of these poker leagues and can’t really have an opinion here.

Well now. If you’ve read my book, you’ll know that the Victoria Casino is my home from home; I love it like a relative and couldn’t vote for anything else. It is the absolute grand-daddy of British Poker, and its ultimate HQ. But, based on the year 2009-10, if I had just arrived in the UK and tested them all blind, I would be most impressed by the Dusk Til Dawn in Nottingham which is a beautiful and spacious room run with dedication by Simon Trumper and a great team of dealers; the Palm Beach which has a small twinkly card room and treats players very well; or the G Casino chain, which has done a great job of hosting the new UK & Ireland Poker Tour.

Aha, well, this is where I’m hoping for a couple of votes. I’m not going to help you realize how good all the others are, you’ll have to Google them.

The Hendon Mob Forum is the only one I look at, so that’s what I’d vote for. But BlondePoker and Gutshot seem to have great community spirit, especially for more recent players, and are very well deserving contenders.

  Or pick ‘em all with a pin. Do it that way and at least I have a 5/1 shot. Voting is here - as long as I don’t get 0 votes, I’ll be happy.

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Pauly at 5:54 pm on August 14th, 2010

Have voted & good luck - also I agree with some of your tips but you don’t mention that Michael Mizrachi in the International category is in the November Nine for WSOP final. I agree Ivey is the best but if this is all about “this year” surely Mizrachi’s is the topical achievement?

harlequin65 at 8:13 pm on August 14th, 2010

I’d have to put Daniel Negreanu as the top player… i’m canadian and i’m biased lol

Drew at 11:54 pm on August 14th, 2010

I’ve just finished reading your book in a good two nights. A very good read and really entertaining stories. Wish you would write more books, even though the process of writing is even worse than licking Piers Morgans face. Although I’m not sure what your next book would be about.
Could do a Charlie Brooker and publish all your articles from the Guardian and Observer.

BobCat at 4:51 pm on August 15th, 2010

You’re very sweet thinking this nomination is only valid if it’s for this year. Surely your contribution to poker goes far beyond the book or you wouldn’t have been asked to write it in the first place. I’m only a poker hobbyist but I’m sure I would not be half as aware of the game as I am if it weren’t for things you have said & written about poker in the press over the years, and definitely gone a long way to helping make it respectable. Don’t worry Vic, you deserve votes in this category for a lot of reasons.

  But there is a question, do poker players need awards at all? After all, the game is all about accumulating prizes as you go along?

Phil at 8:12 am on August 16th, 2010

I voted when I saw it mentioned on Twitter..and also asked who you’d vote for, so this blog post has cleared all that up nicely for me. Cheers, and good luck! :)

Chris at 10:22 am on August 16th, 2010

I read (and very much enjoyed) your Observer article yesterday - Thanks for the meat VC :-)

Sam at 3:22 pm on August 16th, 2010

Weird list.

How could isildur possibly win best international player? I mean he went on a heater and then lost $6m. He was exciting and made railing online poker fun, but it is a weird nomination. I guess Ivey has to win, but I’d like to see Patrik Antonius or Tom Dwan take it down.

Ben Grundy should really win best cash game player, online or otherwise (I don’t see the need for a distinction and think it perpetuates the myth that online players are inferior, when the opposite is likely true). He absolutely crushes PLO games, his profit graphs are unbelievable.

claud at 7:11 pm on August 16th, 2010

You have a soft spot for michael winner? He’s one of the vilest humans on the planet. Please tell me that was a joke?!

AndytheDealer at 8:31 pm on August 16th, 2010

I hope you’ve tweeted your plea to get at least one vote.  With 29,500 followers you’ll be a shoo in if you do.

adam at 11:36 pm on August 16th, 2010

oh i hate filling in things like that, but i think that it must be your birthday, so have a happy birthday vote. Would love you to win, however meaningless.

Victoria Coren at 1:26 am on August 17th, 2010

Aw, thanks Adam - it’s my birthday on Wednesday!

And yes I DO have a soft spot for Michael Winner. He’s a preposterous pantomime character, true, but I don’t think he is vile. I think he’s properly soft-hearted.

phill at 2:18 am on August 17th, 2010

you should definitely win simply for being impossibly gorgeous AND a talented writer.

Ian at 9:55 am on August 17th, 2010

Happy Birthday for tomorrow, now you are the correct age for an Aunt.


jack slipper at 10:24 am on August 17th, 2010

I wonder how many of the lovable, gentle and heroic players you mention will turn out to be sex crazed, perverted, prostitute using, murdering scumbags. Time will tell I suppose.

Victoria Coren at 11:22 am on August 17th, 2010

Oh, I wouldn’t think many.

(But I would say, although I get the point you’re making, that “murdering” occupies a rather different place on the moral scale from those other three things.)

Sparkly at 1:20 pm on August 17th, 2010

When I read Anthony Holden’s book Big Deal, I fell in love with poker, when I read For Richer For Poorer, I fell in love with you; a vote each maybe?

Happy Birthday for tomorrow.

Chris at 6:20 pm on August 17th, 2010

Yes, I think jack slipper was being a little harsh on us sex crazed perverts .. I haven’t ever used a prostitute but hey there’s still time :-)

The Tim at 7:13 pm on August 17th, 2010

I’m not one to do things prematurely but since everyone else has already started - let me join in wishing you a very happy ## birthday tomorrow (I’d have got you a card if I’d known your address) – and don’t listen to the Ballad of Lucy Jordan – I’m sure you’ll ride through Paris in a sports car one day.

john at 1:36 am on August 18th, 2010


Congrats on nomination - I’l give you my vote. I was wondering could you do an article on the concept of tilt? I was trying to explain it to a few non poker players in work recently and guffaws of laughter ensued. I suppose non gamblers can’t understand it but it’s probably the most importmant part of playing poker - control tilt and you win.



Chris at 7:40 am on August 18th, 2010

Have a great birthday VC

C. x

PS. Here’s an indictment to celeb status:

Entering your name on Google and before getting any further than the ‘R’ in Coren the predictive text kindly offered the following choices:

Victoria Coren
Victoria Coren Breasts
Victoria Coren Twitter
Victoria Coren Married
Victoria Coren Poker
Victoria Coren Blog

Jon MW at 9:11 am on August 18th, 2010

Happy Birthday Vicky

You should treat yourself to some poker as it’s a special occasion :-D


Clyde at 12:57 pm on August 18th, 2010

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Markjb at 2:41 pm on August 18th, 2010

Happy birthday Vicky
Still twenty something… whatever the something…so not too old to become an astronaut.

mike at 5:39 pm on August 18th, 2010

Hullo birthday girl!

Although I have not contributed very much on here since finding your blog a few months ago, I do very much appreciate what you have to say and love your humorous articles in the Observer every week.

Also, you have pointed me in the direction of savoury PCA muffins that were truly wonderful and are excellent with tomato soup.

I have voted for you and I have read your book. I think it an excellent tome, both for the autobiographical content and its appendix about various poker terms.  To a non-poker player the information in the book is very helpful, to the layman such as me.

I hope that you are having a splendid day on your birthday.  I give you a virtual hug and kiss (no strings attached honest!) ‘Speak’ soon.

Lego at 6:58 pm on August 18th, 2010

I was hoping I’d be in the running for “World’s Best Play Money Player,” BUT THERE ISN’T EVEN A CATEGORY!! I’m outraged, I tells ya…

MarkP at 10:33 pm on August 18th, 2010

Happy Birthday Vicky. I have voted for you in the poll, this is rather a poor present but after reading your article the other week perhaps this is the best present I can give you. So, if I understand you correctly, when I gave someone Ivor Cutler’s Life in a Scotch Sitting Room Vol 2 (what I thought was a clever, thoughtful present which they would treasure for years to come) it was in fact a rubbish gift. Are you sure about this because it’s been troubling me since I read it? Mind you, it might explain why she is no longer a girlfriend.

benny at 5:21 pm on August 19th, 2010

A Google search for ‘breasts’ led me here. Seems ok so far.

IfancyVickyCoren at 12:55 pm on August 20th, 2010

Hey Vicky, I hope you win a great prize here in Edinburgh.  You’re always very welcome to accompany me to the Usher Hall. I’m such a brilliant comedian you should understand!

Rog at 9:17 am on August 21st, 2010

Wow, your birthday…. Happy 25th.. Congratulations..

I have briefly read that you’re nominated for an award.. Apologies I havent read it thoroughly..nevertheless, I have voted for you in every category.. Good luck in the FHM top 100…I hope you win…


abc at 3:48 pm on August 22nd, 2010

So good to see more man-hating rants in todays Observer. When you say “most” men are cheating b*stards, do you mean most as in nearly every man on the planet? or just the wonderful specimens you come into contact with over a poker table? inbetween them murdering prostitutes of course. Keep it up, as the housewife said to the milkman.

Disappointed of Oxford at 8:07 pm on August 22nd, 2010

I read your Observer column today VC. If it was meant to be ironic then I strongly suspect it was wasted on most of us non DIY/cheating house husbands. Sadly it just came over as feminist drivel.. you are FAR better than this stuff. Please don’t waste such a good education on this rubbish!
Ever hear of a Dr Kelly?.. I DARE you to get your teeth into THAT story… yeh right!

I hope the train journey back down was better than the one up to Edinburgh!

Victoria Coren at 9:04 pm on August 22nd, 2010

Oh calm down, I know there are plenty of men who don’t cheat on their wives; the stuff about the maths was only silly. I thought it was daft that the “scientists” were expressing likelihood of infidelity as a percentage, so I extrapolated to make an equation of 50% x (5x) = 430%, that’s an Edward Lear sort of equation that doesn’t mean anything at all.
  But there was something real at the heart of the study, about men being unfaithful to their wives because they felt threatened by the wives’ professional success, and I do think that’s worthy of comment and worthy of expressing disappointment. I haven’t written about Dr Kelly because it’s a bit too heavy a story for me and I don’t really have anything to say about it. Sorry to those who didn’t like today’s column, hope there are others you like better.

Brian at 10:01 pm on August 22nd, 2010

Was sat at the table next to you in Edinburgh. Was so hoping that I got a chance to play against you but alas it wasn’t to be.
I did get my pic in the Scotland on Sunday playing, so I guess I made an impression on one journo.

Mike at 10:46 am on August 23rd, 2010

Your Observer columns are a must for me, and are a part of my Sunday scene Vicky.  Maybe sometimes they may be a bit eye raising but as long as that is balanced with some of your lovely dry humour then that is fine by me. I do not suppose you are too worried about people’s reactions to your viewpoints anyway. I can think of more controversial columnists than yourself who seem to thrive on it.

Have a safe and happy week.

King John II at 12:52 am on August 24th, 2010

FHM? that’s a lad’s mag isn’t it.
As most of the readers are probably young enough to be VC’s…...well you know….she’ll do well to make any headway there. Do women ever object to being rated in these polls? I would have thought as a RF VC would not be in favour of such Top 100 nonsense.

Victoria Coren

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