Victoria Coren Mitchell - Writer, Broadcaster & Poker Player


Goodbye Team Pro

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

On Friday night, PokerStars.com announced that it will be rolling out online casino gaming alongside its internet poker. As a result, on Saturday morning, I terminated my endorsement contract with them.

Their news was very sudden, so I didn’t have much time to consider my position, but I knew I had to act quickly before I could think better of it. Obviously this is a scary and sad decision for me to make. I have been with PokerStars since 2007 and Team Pro has been a core part of my identity. Obviously I will miss the money and am nervous of managing without it. Also, ironically enough, my plan for the next year or two had been to travel less and play more online.

But I can’t hang around, sleep on it, have meetings and talk myself into staying, when my gut tells me that the right thing is to walk away. This is no criticism of PokerStars itself: business is business, they are providing a new service that people want, and I know they intend to abide by some key principles of responsible gaming. It’s not anti-casino either; I spend a lot of time in casinos, and I have been known to indulge in live table gaming.

But I cannot professionally and publicly endorse it, even passively by silence with my name still over the shop. Poker is the game I love, poker is what I signed up to promote. The question I’m probably asked most often in interviews is about the danger of addiction, going skint and so on. I’m always careful to explain the difference between the essentially fair nature of poker, where we all take each other on with the same basic chance, and those casino games at unfavourable odds which can be (especially online) so dangerous for the vulnerable or desperate. Although PokerStars assured me I would not have to actively promote the casino arm, I know in my heart that continuing in my current role could risk helping to send people to a place where they would encounter something I think is dangerous. That’s not the way I want to make a living.

I will watch from the outside to see what the new site looks like, how safe and responsible it seems, how the advertising feels and the direction the company takes. Maybe in the future I will be able to work with PokerStars again on something which is pure poker. I don’t know, but certainly there are no hard feelings between me and that company which has done so much for the beautiful game over the last decade. They have been gracious and understanding about my decision. Many of the people there are good friends of mine and I’ll miss working with them. The EPT and UKIPT are great tours which I will continue to play, if a little less often. I have had seven wonderful years as a proud member of Team Pro and I wish it wasn’t over. This is a very sad and regretful day for me. I still believe that PokerStars is, at time of writing, the best place to play online poker.

Players and gamblers of the world: I’m sure I’ll still see you all across the occasional baize table. Best wishes to all at PokerStars, whether working within the company, wearing the badge or giving action on the software. Play safely, be careful and good luck.

 

- my poker life story is here

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Comments

dominic dawson at 7:43 pm on November 26th, 2014

Great move Vicky , thanks for supporting the poker community . Whatever you lose from Pokerstars you will more than make up for by doing the right thing and continuing to make smart choices. Much respect


MicroRoller at 7:59 pm on November 26th, 2014

There are a precious few that would give up such a deal based on their principles. These deals are always referred to as sponsorships and we forget that endorsement flows flows down the other side. You haven’t and should be commended for it. Very impressive.


Paul Dunne at 8:12 pm on November 26th, 2014

Huge respect for this principle-based decision. Feel very similarly about Pokerstars’ move into casino gaming and heartening to see a Team Pro who feels the same way stand up and say so rather than take the corporate shilling. Good for you


Mike Grace at 8:17 pm on November 26th, 2014

A brave move, and I think the right one. Even speaking as an net denzien, I think there’s a danger that comes from moving real money into a set-up that can’t be effectively policed.


Keith at 8:34 pm on November 26th, 2014

well done Vicky.


Mik Langley at 8:53 pm on November 26th, 2014

Have to say, well done Victoria. So good to see Integrity come to the fore.
(as if I didn’t admire you already, this increases that)


Aaron Brown at 9:57 pm on November 26th, 2014

This is saddening, always enjoyed your writing, your interviews and the way you carried yourself both in life and on the felt. So much of the brand loyalty with PokerStars was being generated through Isai behind the scenes and people like yourself in the public.. Much respect for your decision, just a sobering reality of where online poker is moving.. 


Glenn at 9:58 pm on November 26th, 2014

Quite surprised with your decision i know why you have come to this conclusion. But i think you have not really thought this through, Pokerstars starting to offer a sportsbook and casino is typical of how a big business operates they have to offer at least the same as there rivals. 888 is my joint favorite site and they offer a wide variety of products, but the poker and promos for poker are great. So it is possible for these sites to get it right and i am sure pokerstars will get the balance right. I thought you would have waited to see what it was like. Hats off to doing what you obviously think is right anyway, i bet there wont be many other Pro’s who make a similar bold decision.


David B at 10:05 pm on November 26th, 2014

I have long been an admirer of your wit and intelligence although not a poker player myself. Having suffered from addiction to alcohol in the past I have always been wary of potentially addictive things such as gambling. Indeed my son’s fondness for Poker was a cause for concern at one point. I feel very uncomfortable with the way gambling has pervaded our everyday lives and so your stance on this has increased my admiration one hundredfold. My admiration isn’t currency but nor is it dealt out cheaply. Good for you!


DJ at 10:16 pm on November 26th, 2014

Absolutely brilliant move by you in that you are standing behind your beliefs and trusting your instincts. Continued success to you and yours Vicki. You are now more than a poker ambassador, you are a morality and values ambassador too. Good on ya for sticking to your beliefs!


Pat Adewale at 10:21 pm on November 26th, 2014

I salute you


Kelvin Weeks at 10:21 pm on November 26th, 2014

Will be sad to see you go, but after reading your book and seeing first hand what gambling can do to people’s lives I think you have made a correct decision Wishing you well and hope to play against you one day.
Kindest regards
Kelvin


Francis Chu at 10:22 pm on November 26th, 2014

Well done for standing up to your principles.
We will of course still see you on TV in Only Connect and Have I Got News For You.


Claire Spinks at 10:33 pm on November 26th, 2014

much respect to you for sticking to your principles on this one - I’m sure you’ll continue to be hugely successful in your pursuits, poker related and otherwise


Chris at 10:38 pm on November 26th, 2014

Hey Victoria,

I respect your decision but I’m torn as to if I feel it was ultimately the right move.
You are worried that you would be representing something you believe is potentially dangerous and inherently unfavorable from an odds perspective. However, people with bad gambling habits are on Pokerstars everyday, playing poker, reloading and dumping cash at all limits and all games. How is that any different? If a person has a problem, they will find ways to blow their money, either at a poker table or at a virtual slot machine. Simply put, people with “problems” will find the unfavorable odds situations and dump their money into it, poker is no different.


Chris at 11:22 pm on November 26th, 2014

—part 2—
I think in your role at Pokerstars you had the opportunity to be in the position to influence players and push the importance of self-control, bankroll management and safe gambling.
Why give up a great sought after Team Pro role? What does that move accomplish? Stepping away in my opinion will have less impact than staying on and promoting your values from a position of influence…and that was a paid position!
But the bottom line is, you did what you felt was right and if you can do that your whole life you will happy at the end of it.
Good luck!


Will at 11:31 pm on November 26th, 2014

It is the things we suffer for that prove the principles we believe to be right. You are worthy of recognition and commendation. Know that.


Alan Stephenson. at 11:58 pm on November 26th, 2014

Much, much, much respect to you Vicki. Next stop politics, hopefully.


Steve at 12:32 am on November 27th, 2014

Had A great deal of respect for you before this. Now it’s completely of the scale. Well done and thankyou for showing such integrity! I see a lot of people badly effected by increasingly easy to access casino games. Not good.
Good luck on the tables and in life.
Thanks again.


Ian at 12:43 am on November 27th, 2014

Kudos to you Vicky.

As a stars supernova the last few years and 2+2 mod I know that I, and many others, are worried about the way things are going.

You’re a shining example of someone standing up for what they believe at a personal cost.

Well played and good luck.


Albin at 1:35 am on November 27th, 2014

Massive respect for you decision. I don not follow you in general but every time I read something about you I have been impressed of how well you have behaved and how smart you are. Good luck with everything! 


Max Ghezzi at 2:59 am on November 27th, 2014

Wow, not that I share your view of online casino games as being ‘dangerous’, but damn girl; You’ve earned my respect as being a honorable and a person with great character - A real stand up gal!


Robbie at 3:48 am on November 27th, 2014

Fantastic to see someone put integrity before profit. Good on you Vicky, much respect.


boris at 6:55 am on November 27th, 2014

Respect


Darren Naylor at 7:00 am on November 27th, 2014

Well said Vicky and good luck.
As someone once said, ” There are three constants in life;  change,  choice and principles”


Jean Warrington at 7:29 am on November 27th, 2014

Impressed with your integrity Victoria!


pavels4444 at 7:48 am on November 27th, 2014

This is truly a great move. You are awesome! Wish you lots of luck in the future:)


Andy at 7:56 am on November 27th, 2014

Very impressive, Vicky. As others have said, it’s not something many would be able to do. Continue to use your position to highlight the dangerous side of gambling, with or without team pro! Keep up the good work.


heXen at 8:57 am on November 27th, 2014

Looks like you have biggest “cojones” in this game Victoria. “Big” ambassadors of poker Daniel Negreanu never will say a bad word about PS. I really like you and your decision too… All the best


Chris at 9:07 am on November 27th, 2014

Its rare that a celeb one admires shows a whole heap of integrity. Too often its the feet of clay which appear, as large sums of money are offered or threatened to be withdrawn. You’ll note that the vast majority of comments here praise your decision. I’ll just add my voice in saying well done.


Norman Jenkins at 9:16 am on November 27th, 2014

Though I may be a nobody, you have won my respect, well done.


Chris Stehlik at 9:17 am on November 27th, 2014

It’s a moral decision and you should be proud to make it (and happy to have enough financial means that you can). There will be other ways to supplement income.


repla at 9:54 am on November 27th, 2014

i imagined your voice while reading this :) a beautiful character explains it self with a beatiful voice..


Jan Davies at 10:32 am on November 27th, 2014

Good for you Vicky, important to stand by your principles in your life. I’m disappointed that Pokerstars will no longer be just about poker, hope the other sh1t isn’t shoved in our faces. If it is, then many more will leave.


CD at 11:16 am on November 27th, 2014

Such a lot of respect for your integrity in our industry.  Will really miss your representation, hope to still play on your table at the IOM UKIPT.


Domink Panka at 11:27 am on November 27th, 2014

Good Luck Vicky


Lez watson at 11:43 am on November 27th, 2014

Victoria. My passion for you grows.First Balderdash, then Connecting, then QT, then QI, then HIGNFY, and now the principled stand on the on-line poverty curse. I’m almost speechless. Bless you.


Mark Twain at 11:52 am on November 27th, 2014

mad respect
i hope more pros will follow


Will Graves at 3:31 pm on November 27th, 2014

You have been a great member of team pro for as long as I have had an interest in poker and I will be sorry to see you leave. You are a person I admire greatly and you have risen further in my estimations by your actions today. All the best for the future and may you win all your races and lets have a third EPT crown soon.


Jacob at 3:53 pm on November 27th, 2014

You are a true Queen of Poker Victoria! I lack words to describe how much I admire your decision which shows great courage, wisdom and self-awareness. You’ve always been the greatest ambassador of poker and my favourite player. I will continue to observe your career and support you on your every tournament. It’s an extremely sad day for international poker. TBH I recon it’s the beginning of the end of poker I know. Dear Victoria, thank you for all your effort, fun and knowledge you gave to us. Stay safe and good luck in your future endeavours. I hope poker someday will return to the right track….


Remco at 6:28 pm on November 27th, 2014

Much respect to you Vicky for fighting along the good side! Keep it up and stay strong. It’s a constant, lifetime battle.


unknown at 8:57 pm on November 27th, 2014

You’ve temporarily restored my faith in humanity. Mad respect to you Victoria.


Patrick Newman at 10:58 pm on November 27th, 2014

A brave move, a bold move, but obviously one based on your own morals and principles. Integrity counts for a lot in poker and you’ve played a strong hand here, Vicky. Well done.


Dr Colin Turner at 11:21 pm on November 27th, 2014

A principled, and hence eminently admirable, decision.


Freddie Mays at 1:15 am on November 28th, 2014

I’m delighted to hear of this. Especially when you say you will actually miss the money. It means you made a hard decision and stuck by your beliefs. Well done! 

This is what separates us from the Americans. Well one of the things. Imagine Phil Hellmuth doing this?


Aspersmick at 3:58 am on November 28th, 2014

Good luck x


Scotty Wayne at 9:10 am on November 28th, 2014

I applaud your leaving of PokerStars and your reasons for doing so. You have my great respect and admiration.


christian at 11:07 am on November 28th, 2014

much respect for this! cant describe in words how good it feels to see people acting responsibly towards other human beeings.


Owen at 11:57 am on November 28th, 2014

I just want to say I have the upmost respect for you and the decision you have made. This must have been a very difficult move but to have the courage to leave Stars on a matter of principle is something very few would have done. I also don’t like the addition of casino games on Stars even though it will certainly be profitable for them.
I sincerely wish you all the best in the future.


Alan G at 3:04 pm on November 28th, 2014

Well played!  As well as being the right move from a principle point of view, it sends a strong message about how poker differs from most gambling games, that can only help in areas where we are arguing to keep it legal.

Don’t worry about the money - the poker gods will take note and reward you appropriately.


Jonny Downes at 4:21 pm on November 28th, 2014

A very admirable stance (and ultimately the correct decision imho), Vicky. Good luck in the future.


JohnnyH at 10:46 am on November 29th, 2014

Respect to you Vicky,
You can always send your hubby out to do a few more TV shows to make up the money!


kobmish at 3:05 pm on November 29th, 2014

Very classy, respect!


james mcgeorge at 4:56 pm on November 29th, 2014

A brave and admirable decision, good on you.


james at 5:43 pm on November 29th, 2014

Oh go on say it VC-M! PS are absolute greedy bounders for a decision that preying on the vulnerable in the great mismatched online casino con. None of the other sites are any better sadly, its one great robbing bandwagon sucking the cash and life out of the game we love and into the operators pockets.


Tim Alanthwaite at 11:02 am on November 30th, 2014

My respect for Ms Coren, already considerable, is further enhanced by this decision on her part.


JIM CARR at 6:40 pm on November 30th, 2014

if you dont want to lose money on a gambling website,which is loaded against you, dont go on it.  its not rocket science.


Jon Cooke at 8:28 pm on November 30th, 2014

Good for you.
If u need the money, come kill the games at the Victoria again, Victoria.
I promise u a G&T.


Tim Murphy at 1:03 pm on December 1st, 2014

This reminds me of the scene in Charlie and the chocolate factory where Charlie hands back the everlasting gobstopper and Mr. Wonka says;

“So shines a good deed in a weary world.”

Well done Vicky!


Daniel S. at 2:50 pm on December 1st, 2014

Respect Victoria! hopefully your move will make the change, maybe other team pro`s will follow ur move and pokerstars may be forced to abandon the idea of casino games on pokerstars.
Wish u only the best ! you done well and hopefully will be getting only good things coming back to you in return.


Eric at 6:49 am on December 3rd, 2014

Dear Vicky, you are not only a very intelligent and witty woman, but with this gesture of the heart you show that there is still warmth in a society that is getting more individual by the day. And as long as we believe in that and in ourselves, we can make a difference to those around us we care about, whether it be through a gesture, words of comfort or speaking out to protect those we don’t even know, but feel connected to anyway.

I already admired and respected you for who you are and this only emphasized what I already knew for a long time:  this world needs more Vicky Coren. You rock girl.

Hugs from Holland.


Simon at 3:29 pm on December 3rd, 2014

Awesome Vicky! Ever since Amaya took over PS I have been increasingly dissatisfied with the site. Now that they add a casino to the site I might start looking for a different place to play poker.
After this move from you Vicky, you are now my biggest star in the poker world!


Philou at 9:46 pm on December 3rd, 2014

Most important in life is to walk the talk… so Great respect!


Iulian Doroftei at 9:54 am on December 4th, 2014

This is the most admirable decision to be made against the stream of doing no matter what for a payday.
I would be so excited and honored to have you at my poker podcast (which has issued 190 episodes so far and lots of great poker players in interviews).
The last episode featured Daniel Negreanu and I really want our listeners to also hear the alternative point of view on this matter.


Andy Walsh at 11:18 pm on December 4th, 2014

Well done Vicky.  I’m proud of you.


brendan at 1:10 pm on December 15th, 2014

Well done Victoria Coren Mitchell…
Pokerstars are now charging 2.5% for converting deposits into dollars so players will lose 5% overall when cashing in.


Recovering Addict at 1:02 am on December 17th, 2014

I came across this news tonight and as an ex amateur poker player that descended into a life of utter chaos after succumbing to the horrors of online gaming I stand up and applaud your decision. I am currently 5 years bet free and had to leave poker behind which I loved and incidentally never gambled big on. I have always loved watching the nature in which you play the game and my respect for that decision knows no bounds. Well done.


Loz Taylor at 3:25 pm on December 24th, 2014

Like I do with my gambling, I’m going to go against the crowd here. Gambling is only bad if you lose, and then only really bad if you lose big. There will *always* be a small percentage of problem gamblers (even among those who play poker). I’d like to see more education regarding odds, chance and risk. Not just in relation to sports and gaming, but concerning life itself - we all gamble every day, whether we are aware of it or not. Respect your choice Vicky, but I would have stayed and educated rather than walked away.


nickb at 4:32 am on December 27th, 2014

even though i applaud victoria’s stand I dont believe poker is any different, I have sat on the tables and watched these pros prey on the vulnerable and naive new comers.


colin.dixon. at 12:32 am on January 2nd, 2015

Wow. I’ve always thought u were great.  U just proved it!!  V.M FOR NO.10!


Someguy at 5:30 am on January 10th, 2015

You are an amazing person, Wow. You are one of the best personalities to ever be part of team pro. Very powerful statement. You deserve so much respect for this decision. For real. +Ev move. I think the REAL poker players community should combine our minds and skills to create a new brand of online poker, someday, free of dangerously addictive casino BS.  You and others like Dan Colman are the real heroes of the game. There’s no right way to sugar-coat it. Gambling is gambling.


Tom at 1:59 am on January 11th, 2015

Victoria you are amazing! Such good writing on such a sad subject. I wish you well in the future!


Klabers at 10:10 am on February 15th, 2015

I thank you so much for your decision and this article.
As a former gambling addict, I’m trying to inform the German society about the new trends which are developing esp on Pokerstars.
I’m writing a blog myself and your move to terminate your endorsement contract is a very strong statement. Thank you much.

Even the new game “Spin&Go;” is just a new trick to let the addicts stick to Pokerstars. It has nothing to do with the regular poker game.

With best regards,
K. Albers


David Watkinson at 8:31 am on October 16th, 2015

Absolute props for your tireless ethics. Very well done indeed.


Victoria Coren

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