Victoria Coren Mitchell - Writer, Broadcaster & Poker Player

Honesty Box (poker post)

Friday, 9 September 2011

Okay, so, the WCOOP has started and it’s gone okay so far. It’s gone very well really, because I’ve played four events and cashed in two of them. But in both of the cashing events it felt like I got really unlucky late on and failed to make really big scores, so there are mixed emotions involved.

  Anyway, I’ve decided to be brave and keep a tally here (on this thread) of the WCOOP events I play and how I get on. Obviously that feels easy to do right now because I’ve cashed in 50% of played events and I’m in profit. It might not look so clever in a couple of weeks’ time if I’ve played eight more and gone miles behind. But hey, that’s the whole point of being honest - taking the risk that it isn’t always good news. All my positive tournament results are published in a table elsewhere on this site but (as with all professional players’ published results) it doesn’t show the losses.

  So, what the hell, let’s have an Honesty Series with the losses published as well as the wins. If the final figures are horrible at the end of the WCOOP, well, I’ll consider it a useful lesson for fellow players to see how hard it can be to make a living from tournaments! Cash games and cheap satellite entries FTW…

  I’m not quite sure how to report profits, because I’ve been buying into these events with VPPs (frequent player points) rather than cash, so any return is all profit for me. And I’ll be playing the main event courtesy of those kindly people at PokerStars. But if I were buying in with real money, obviously I’d need to remove the buy-in amount from recorded profit.

  For now, I’ll just put down all results as they come in, updating the post each time I play an event, and then at the end maybe I’ll add a table showing profits with and without the buy-ins factored in. It may be the most boring thread of all time, of course. If you think so, no need to check back! But if you’re interested to see an honest account of a player’s online series, here one’s going to be…

1) Event 1, $215 6-handed NLH
    Finished 325th/7500, cashed for $585

2) Event 3, $215 NLH
    Cashed $0

3) Event 11, $320 Ante Up
    Finished 52nd/1467, cashed for $1,144

4) Event 12, $215 Heads Up
    Cashed $0

5) Event 14, $265 6-Max Knockout
    Finished 965th/3568, cashed for $100 (in bounties)

6) Event 18, $320 NLH Turbo
    Finished 244th/2295, cashed for $620

7) Event 21, $215 NLH
    Cashed $0
  [I’d like to note about this one that I went out in a huge pot where I was 92% favourite! *92%* !!! And lost. $0 is a very unfair reflection!]

8) Event 22, $530 NLH
    Cashed $0

9) Event 22, $320 Second Chance
    Finished 9th/793, cashed for $3,045

10) Event 23, $215 4-Max
    Cashed $0

11) Event 26, $320 Mixed Limit
    Cashed $0

12) Event 32, $320 6 Max
    Cashed $0

13) Event 32, $215 Second Chance
    Finished 43rd/488, cashed for $488

14) Event 33, $320 Omaha 6 Max 1R 1A
    Cashed $0

15) Event 38, $530 Heads Up
    Cashed $0
  [Out with a flush v a pair of tens! He hit a bigger flush! Not quite 92% as above, but still… nasty…]

16) Event 40, $215 NLH
    Cashed $0

17) Event 42, $1050 NLH
    Cashed $0

18) Event 44, $320 NLH
    Cashed $0

19) Event 45, $265 Turbo
    Cashed $0

20) Event 45, $139 Second Chance
    Cashed $0

21) Event 52, $320 NLH
    Cashed $0
    [Another sick exit: 1770 played, 340 left, good chips, flopped a full house against chip leader and - for once - played it perfectly. Got it all in on the turn, 84% favourite. 4-outed on the river. I literally issued a cry of pain at that card. Marvellous…]

22) Event 55, $530 NLH 1R 1A (had both)
    Cashed $0
23) Event 57, $215 Omaha Hi-Lo turbo
    Cashed $0

24) Event 60, $215 NLH
    Cashed $0

25) Event 62, $5000 Main Event:
    Finished 451 / 1627 at 4.30am; good run, played well but ran into AQ with AT and, sadly enough, cashed $0

26) Event 62, $1050 2nd Chance
    Cashed $0



So. It was a great start to the WCOOP, cashing 5 times in the first 9 events and 6 times overall. BUT a dry run later, ends up in a loss.

Total WCOOP income: $5,982

Total outlay: literally, only about $1500 because I bought in almost exclusively with Frequent Player Points, only once or twice with cash, and PokerStars put me in the main event. So, technically, I’ve turned FPPs I wouldn’t otherwise have used into a cash profit of about $4400.

However, if you imagine the FPPs were cash (and they do have some cash value), the literal outlay would be $10,154 - so an overall loss of $4172.

And of course if you also add the Main Event expenditure, that’s $15,354 so an overall loss of $9372.

Now, I wouldn’t have bought into the $5200 event with my own money unless I’d won it earlier in the series - and I wouldn’t have bought into so many other events if I hadn’t run up hundreds of thousands of FPPs with my general Stars playing hours that I was never going to spend on clothes or iPads or other items from the store so might as well try to spin up - so these figures aren’t exactly representative of true costs as they would be in normal professional poker life. Personally, I feel like I had a great time playing lots of events to give myself a good shot at a big win, I’m pleased with 6 cashes, I know how close I came with a couple of the bad beats above, and I’m fine with a result of -$4172 (mostly FPPs) and happy when I think of it as +$4400 cash conversion! (not counting the sponsored main event).

Nevertheless, the moral is: it’s hard to beat these things, and with one’s own money the value is always in playing satellites to get in, and choosing events very selectively. For pure profit / professionalism, I played too many events in general and certainly too many events where I don’t really have an edge, eg. 6-max Omaha and hi-lo turbos.

The moral is also: beware pros who show you only high and regular wins! The real figures are often kept guarded… Hope you appreciate the honesty here; I’ve really enjoyed the WCOOP, learned something from looking back at these figures, and wish good luck to all.

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Ken Singtone at 1:07 am on September 8th, 2011

I am optimistic, this could be a very interesting thread.  Good Luck with the rest of it.
I watched the Madrid Champion of Champions tournament on 4oD, looking carefully to see if I could discern any of your “tells”.  I’m not sure how much my lack of success was because of my lack of experience of poker.  I have read FRFP, but then I still missed the recent poker connection on Only Connect (yet had an unusual 100% success with the alcoholic beverages).
Near the end of the Madrid programme came an epiphany, & I finally understood (at least partly) why you love poker so much.  Oh dear, where will that lead me?

Clyde at 9:53 am on September 8th, 2011

I think this thread is a wonderful idea, I look forward to following your progress. Good luck in all the tournaments that you play!

PeteJ at 3:00 pm on September 8th, 2011

Well done VC for the honesty. We all goggle at the big players’ cashes but most of em wouldn’t be brave enough to show the real figures with P&L ! I’ll watch this post with interest, if you carry on having a good series great and if not I’ll admire you for putting the info out there. Good luck.

Borndriller at 3:36 pm on September 8th, 2011

I used to have a spreadsheet with all my tournament profit and loss in.
After a while I realised I didn’t need a profit column :-(
Good luck with the series!

Jesse Walker at 4:14 pm on September 8th, 2011

I’m jealous you even get to play.  Us yanks are stuck on the sidelines for this one. 

I was looking forward to the badugi tourney. 

Congrats on the ante win!  Pretty wild action I’d imagine.

block at 6:28 pm on September 8th, 2011

Please post the full buy in price. That would be interesting to the observer I think.
I recently started a results document after a good run and included all the previous dry spells to make it ‘honest’. I was doing nicely before the document, dried up since!
Happy gambling.

David Saville at 7:02 pm on September 8th, 2011

I am impressed with your candour and I think it will work to your advantage. By being bold enough to publish your progress in full publicly you give yourself an extra push to focus and do your best.
I am not a player or a follower of poker and yet find your posts interesting. The psychology fascinates me and I will like to see how you manage your state of mind throughout.
Good luck and have fun!

Victoria Coren at 7:10 pm on September 8th, 2011

Block - the full buy-in price is published above. But, as explained in the post, I’m buying in with VPPs not money so it’s arguable whether or not the buy-in should be docked from the profit; at the end of the series I’ll publish the figures with and without doing that so it’s all clear.

block at 8:48 am on September 9th, 2011

D’oh, my sausage eyes in action again!
Reading FRFP again, very good. Write another please, can’t imagine you’re busy!
Good luck.

BenL at 1:58 pm on September 9th, 2011

These massive field tournaments are so high variance there’s almost zero point playing them unless you’re just there to have some fun. It’s crazy to me how guys like Daniel Negreanu can say things like ‘I am DEFINITELY going to crush the WSOP this year’. Result: mini cashes like twice or whatever out of 20 something events. 

I like playing donkaments but I play the smaller field ones - the 6max at 5:10 on iPoker is ridiculously soft. Vicky, you should play that one with me, my sn is SandraXIII, that’s if you are able to play on another network :) I might try the 40k just for sh*ts and giggles as the cash games are pretty dead atm.

Victoria's biggest fan at 7:18 am on September 10th, 2011

Well done so far and again I am very interested in watching this thread progress too

On a related side note I’ve just finished reading ‘For Richer For Poorer’ for the 3rd time. AMAZING!!

David Sparks at 2:37 pm on September 12th, 2011


BIG, BIG fan of yours, and I always keep an eye out for your results. From looking at your overall Stars tournament history on the net, and it’s overall trend, why is it you continue to play MTT’s and not STT? I only ask, as I know I’m more profitably playing live and STT’s and shorter filed sizes, yet I continue to play large field tournaments. I’m sure you’d be more profitable playing £1k ST Sit’n Go’s.  I’m guessing it’s just an enjoyment thing, but curious to know your thoughts…

All the best, and good luck in your WCOOP challenge.


Victoria Coren at 4:56 pm on September 12th, 2011

Hi David. Since this is an honesty thread, I’ll answer with total honesty: my overall MTT figures online are a bit skewed because I have played quite a few large buy-in MTTs (like $10k main events, I think even once a $25k heads-up) courtesy of lovely PokerStars. I don’t play those huge things any more - but one year I think they put us in practically the whole WCOOP! So, you know, without actually making a personal loss, my official figures went quick into the red (when I don’t play enough of that size event online for it to even out) and I might NEVER show a profit online!

  But the other ones - the $200 - $500 MTTs, I’m happy to buy myself into and have a gamble. They’re always long shots, but the point is, if you do win one you get hundreds of thousands back. You don’t need to win them all the time…

Piloti at 7:04 am on September 13th, 2011

An interesting experiment.
Cards on the table, as it were, I know nothing about poker, and not really that bothered about finding out either, but, I do enjoy the blog as a whole. Showing some level of “honesty” would add some welcome spice to the gumbo of rubbish that is often served up by various celebs when trying to validate their own egos.  Thankfully VC is way above that, which makes this site the excellent read that it is and the “honesty” experiment one to watch : will it be 100% truthful or will it peter out and be lost in the maelstrom to come…. ?


Bill Willoughby at 8:46 am on September 13th, 2011

Hi Vicky - I’m new to this game and have only just realised how much stamina is required. I played for 9 hours in event 19 on Saturday. I intended to play in event 21 on Sunday but the thought of (possibly) spending another stressful umpteen hours in front of the screen was just too much to comtemplate and I couldn’t face it. How do you manage to play all these events and remain sane? I noticed that Liv played in 9 events on Sunday. She must have the constitution of an ox.

Cheers - Bill (aka BentHenry)

E Kerr at 2:02 am on September 17th, 2011

I read your quiz abuse article, & so to contribute my dubious (but well meant) comment:

vc17rc7nh23th2vl53tb7tm19th11rl29 - tt13ly5rb3

Jason Twigg at 12:18 am on September 21st, 2011

Is your losing streak just luck or were you mentally sharper earlier in the sequence, with some tiredness now creeping in?  Good luck either way, I hope your fortunes improve.

I have posted the third clue to my connection puzzle in the 1st August thread below, as it seems the most likely place for Only Connect fans to look.  If there is little response I may try twitter before posting the fourth clue.

MildMike at 10:38 am on September 21st, 2011

I’m not sure where else to ask this, but in todays Guardian article you mention an article by Jude Ainsworth, but don’t say where it can be found!

RomanticRecluse at 11:00 am on September 21st, 2011

Vicky, I read your Obs column about parenting advice and something about it struck me.

You wrote a column about having children without using the word “love” once.  You didn’t use “home” either and only used “family” in “Royal family shocked” but you did use the word “poker”.  Have you noticed that?  Surely you (a writer, a poker player who thinks that they can read people and a fan of reality TV shows and their “fascinating human dynamics”) would have noticed.  Was it a satirical ploy, a clever hidden joke?  Honestly?

Still, if you’re stuck for ideas for a column perhaps you’ve got a good one now.

“Last week I wrote a column about having children and gave some advice and a long-lost virtual friend pointed out something about what I’d written…”

Do I get a prize?

Victoria Coren at 4:39 pm on September 21st, 2011

RR: I think you’re reading a bit too much into that column. It was an article where I advised teenagers who are unpopular at school to try drug-dealing! Please don’t worry. Two columns ago (August 21st) I wrote that children “can get by if you give them three things only: love, moral guidance and an MMR jab”. I think enough people take the idea of loving children for granted, that I didn’t need to repeat it again so soon…

MildMike: the article by Jude Ainsworth is in PokerPlayer magazine - I think the current one.

Best wishes, VC

Nigel Farage at 6:58 pm on September 21st, 2011

You buy into those tournaments with FPPs not VPPs.

If you think about it, you are buying into the tournaments with money.  Those FPPs can be turned in for bonuses.  The best value bonus on PokerStars is the equivalent of $0.016 per FPP ($4,000 for 250,000 FPP). So I’d deduct the cash value of any FPPs spent on the tournaments from any profit made. 


BenL at 8:29 am on September 22nd, 2011

Hi Vicky, in reference to your latest Guardian blog, I think the point is in these massive field events you need to build an image early by opening a lot of pots rather than ‘building pots for bluffs’. Of course if the board runs out right for a 3 barrell against the right people fine, but people are stations…just mess around on the cheap streets and then value bet them to death. Remember, these are donkament players you’re up against. If you have TT IP on QQ742 and your opponent goes chk/c turn chk/chk and he checks the river, he’s going to call your 1.5Xpot river bet with his A7…

seven2off at 5:04 pm on September 23rd, 2011

Same thing always happens to me when I play tournaments, spend several long hours carefully grinding away, waiting for those rare perfect moments to get it all in as a huge favourite, in a huge pot, that will almost certainly guarantee a final table seat, and what happens when that moment arrives and I pull the trigger…?
The RNG kicks me in the nuts, filling some complete bastard’s two, three or four outer, and I’m gone.  Same old shit every time. What makes it even worse is I can usually sense exactly what’s going to happen, and then it does. Tedious, very bloody tedious.

Anyway, it was nice of you to share your statistics for these events Vicky, reading them made me feel much better.

David Young at 7:43 am on September 24th, 2011

Vicky, have you any comment on the relative toughness of the fields in the non-Hold’em events compared to the Hold’em ones?

You have played enough of the other games (omaha, hi-lo, seven-card stud) to be able to judge. I’d be interested in your opinion.

Victoria Coren at 12:23 pm on September 24th, 2011

Hi DY. Actually I haven’t though - I’ve played a 6-max Omaha and (last night on a doomed last-minute whim) a turbo Hi-Lo, otherwise it’s been all Holdem. Haven’t played any 7 card or anything like that. So I honestly have no idea whether those fields are all soft with people who don’t know the games, or nightmarish with people who are all variant experts. I’d guess there would be a few of the former but quite dominated by the latter.

  The one I played last night would tell you nothing because it was a super-gambly turbo; I got it all in at level 2 or 3 with top set (no low draw but a 3-way pot and no low on the flop) and lost when someone made a flush. Maybe I was the value, but not sure it was much of a learning curve. In the 6-max Omaha… a couple on my table seemed pretty good and a couple not, much like the Holdem events.

Jason Twigg at 9:08 am on October 1st, 2011

have a slightly off-track question for you, Victoria, I notice that in your news section you mention stocking up on DVD’s for the WCOOP.  I wondered if you have seen the film “Rat Race”.  It’s a few years old now but the combination of casinos, betting, and comedy seems close to your interests.  It’s an eclectic mix of comedy, and I’m curious to know how much you would enjoy it.  If you haven’t seen it,  I would recommend it…

Austin at 7:16 pm on October 1st, 2011

I am relatively new to the charms of VC, but like most men, I am smitten. Alas i know there can be no future for us as it appears you have a downer on my home town of Walsall. Nearing the end of the latest book and the old home town has been mentioned more times than Luton. Didn’t realise we were some form of Poker Mecca!! Can you explain where in the people’s republic of Walsall you used to play?

Victoria Coren at 8:24 pm on October 1st, 2011

Hi Austin. I’ve never played in Walsall myself - in fact, I’ve never even been! So I hope you won’t find any negative comments about the place in my book, other than (possibly, I can’t remember) a giggle about the glamours of British poker compared to Vegas. But for all I know, Walsall knocks it into a cocked hat.

  Certainly it was a key stop for UK poker for many years, but I don’t know where they played. The Rainbow Club was in Birmingham, I think. These days, action is probably at a Grosvenor.

Steve Goody at 1:22 pm on October 7th, 2011

Loving the blog Victoria.
I would like to ask a question that might not seem relevant. During a competion, how do you combat the impulse to bet bigger once you know you are in a cash position. Or more pertinent, How do I?
I love the tournaments but only play the $20/$30 buy-in range. As soon as I see I am in the money and have covered my stake I seem to lose my tight play methods and play ‘shit or bust’ with pocket KK for instance.
I always notice the better players get to the final table time and time again with me regretting my moment of madness once again.

RomanticRecluse at 3:37 pm on October 23rd, 2011

Vicky, I’d like to believe you but you give off tells so often and they form a pattern.  It’s a subconscious process, the pattern is found in about 3% of the adult population and it creates a lot of cognitive dissonance.  It makes you easy to read and makes it hard for you to read people and situations.  You couldn’t read Michael Winner and he’s easy to read and very like you so I bet you can’t read me.

If I gave you a lesson in advanced psychology you could see and understand so much more.  It could help you at the poker table, the writing desk and everywhere else.  The lesson would take an afternoon and includes betting opportunities.

As for “enough people take the idea of loving children for granted” you’re so naive.  Try walking in my shoes.  You’ll stumble in my footsteps.

Victoria Coren

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