Victoria Coren Mitchell - Writer, Broadcaster & Poker Player


Hurray (warning: poker content)

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

I finally made a PokerStars final! I NEVER HAVE BEFORE.

That’s perhaps less odd than it sounds; I play on PokerStars all the time but it’s usually one-table sit-and-goes or heads up, I don’t often play the regular multi-table tournaments. I have got in the habit of playing the Sunday Warm-Up when I can, and I always play several events in the WCOOP and SCOOP series, but it’s still only a few MTTs a year so maybe there’s no shame in this being my first final. Tonight (Monday night / Tuesday morning) I finished 3rd in the $109 + rebuy tournament, for $9,593. I had three rebuys plus an add-on, so that’s a profit of $9,084 and I’m very happy about it.

  It feels especially good after a tough few weeks. The WCOOP (World Championship of Online Poker) was pretty gruelling, as it always can be for European players; the tournaments go on throughout the night, UK time. I played a fair few events for only one cash - 106th in the $530 No Limit Holdem for $2458. A nice result and everything, I haven’t forgotten the value of money, but it was a small return for many many nights of being up til the small hours or even til dawn.

  Then followed the London EPT. (I didn’t play any of the World Series Europe tournaments). This is, of course, my favourite tournament series of the year and I always love it, but it was a long tough week of back-to-back tournaments and a blitz of Team Pro press. Normally I’d relish it, but I was horribly tired - my luck seemed awful, I managed to catch a nasty cold from Kevin McPhee on day one (nothing salacious, just sitting next to him), plus, I won’t bore you with the details but I’d been having a bit of a tough time away from the table for other reasons, so not quite the usual ball of energy - and it seemed TYPICAL that the whole thing finished with being on the bubble of the £2k NLH event at the end of the series. Not ‘around the bubble’, properly on the bubble: 17th when 16 got paid. It was a day when I felt really under the weather, temperature, headache, the lot; the level of illness where (even though this was the second and final day of the event, so should be exciting) I really would have been quite happy to get knocked out on the first hand and go home to bed. How I contrived to have the longest possible day for the minimum possible return…. really, well done me.

  Oh whinge, whine, shut up Coren; this is the nature of the game and if you can’t handle disappointment then you can’t handle poker tournaments. I didn’t mind failing to make the money, but I did mind feeling too tired and run-down to enjoy the matches.

  Nevertheless, there was one last exciting blast of poker coming up before the end of the UK season: my old favourite, Late Night Poker, in Cardiff. A fast, six-handed heat, surely I had a chance there? Then I heard my line-up of opponents: Phil Ivey, Gus Hansen, Theo Jorgensen, Michael Mizrahi and (online qualifier) James Sykes. Hilarious. I think it is actually impossible that I’ll ever get a tougher table draw for as long as I play the game. I stuffed the hand-scribbled seating assignment into my handbag and brought it home to frame it.

  But you know what? I didn’t mind the comically tough field, because it was fun. It was fun to play against the best in the world. It was fun to be back in Cardiff with my old friends at the production company, feeling healthier. It was fun to set myself the private challenge, before the match, not of knocking Phil Ivey out but simply of making him laugh. He seems such a serious fellow. Maybe he’s just shy. But he’s always so cool, so quiet, so lackadaisical… LOOK AWAY NOW IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW MY RESULT IN THE GAME THAT WILL BE SCREENED ON CHANNEL 4 ON OCTOBER 19TH, but if you don’t care then let me tell you: I achieved my aim of triggering a giggle from The Man in the very moments after he knocked me out in 4th place, so I left the table happy.

  One reason for my oft-repeated Top Poker Tip (which is never to play for sums you can’t comfortably afford) is that you have to enjoy the game. It’s vital. Vital for poker and vital for life. I am always philosophical about being knocked out, as long as I milked the joy of competition from the experience.

  I don’t have much Ivey gossip for you, other than that. Nothing you couldn’t guess, anyway. He came and went by helicopter. He stayed at the Ryder Cup hotel. He played Chinese poker with Gus Hansen for huge stakes, so obsessively that they were even whipping out a spare deck to play it at the TV table during any brief pause to re-set cameras. And he is an incredible presence at the table. It is the first time in twenty years of playing poker, since my childhood, that I have ever felt genuinely scared someone could read my mind.

  All good, to notch up that experience with the greatest poker player of my generation. It’s like a keen football fan getting the chance to play with George Best (unlikely now, I know.) But I must admit, that flash of fun aside, it has felt like six long weeks of hardcore poker for only $2458 in the WCOOP, an annoying disappointment in that £2k EPT event, and I am very happy and reassured to get this good result in the PokerStars tournament tonight. It’s easy to get superstitious after a dry run. I’m cheered up and confident about poker again. Nevertheless, I think I might take a little break from live tournaments for a while. There’s one at the Vic in November; no more at least til then, I think.

  But we’ll see, we’ll see, we’ll see…..

 

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Comments

A-fish-onado at 11:08 am on October 12th, 2010

WP Vicky, I was watching on the rail from when there were about 25 left and you played very well - unlucky with AK against K9, and to find the bigger ace when you shoved, but nice result.


Lacey at 2:51 pm on October 12th, 2010

Kevin Mcphee - Poor chap, being new to poker he will now forever be known to me as ‘the guy that gave Coren a cold’.

Have you seen ‘Louis Theroux’s Gambling in Las Vegas’? They seemed to zone in on the biggest losers (in every sense) and morons they could find, which can’t be good. If you’re still lacking an incentive to watch…Theroux actually gets drunk. Now who in their right mind could pass on that?


AndytheDealer at 4:45 pm on October 12th, 2010

Well done on the win Vicky. 

I would have tacked this next bit on to the Cheerleading column comments, but that’s closed so it’s got to go here…Money is the score in Poker, how do you score in Cheer?  In any sport the score is not an opinion it’s a fact.  If it’s down to a judge it’s a pastime.

On to weightier matters.  I must take umbrage at your column in The Observer this week, because in having a pop at men who still behave like children you’ve stuck the boot into me.  That hurt!


mike at 4:52 pm on October 12th, 2010

I am not really a poker fan Vicky, but I can sense how happy you are at your position as of now and I will watch the Channel 4 poker programme on Tuesday/Wednesday next week. All the very best of luck, and I hope your star shines brightly for you.


Victoria Coren at 5:36 pm on October 12th, 2010

Oh but you know the truth Andy - if I didn’t love man-child(ren), why would I spend so much time in the Vic?

;-)


dg at 10:04 pm on October 12th, 2010

Congrats, Vicky!

I registered an account with PokerStars so I could see how you got on but, my attention span being what it is, I got distracted by the possibility of playing my own game. I now have a fair bit more toy money than I did when I started; this, I think, is a bad sign. I’ll let you know if I still have my house this time next year.

Now, you say here that you haven’t forgotten the value of money, but you also implied, on this week’s OC, that you could get embarrassingly drunk on a fiver. Either you really are out of touch with reality, or you’re an *extremely* cheap date…


Lego at 11:32 pm on October 12th, 2010

Surprised you’ve never made a PS final table before. Most of the PS headliner tourneys are a bit mental, though. Huge prizes, but MASSIVE fields, so no matter how good anyone is, needs a heck of a lot of luck to get on a final table (not that I’ve ever played one :D). They finish at some silly time in the morning, so I’ve only seen one final table, but most of the pros seem to go long before then. Just mainly luck to get that far when the field’s 10,000 big.

The approx 300 strong fields seem far more sensible if someone actually wants to win one, or just make a final table (not that I play those either :D).

Ugh, rebuy tourneys, though *loath*. Just feels like diminishing returns rebuying and they go on forever, any time I’ve tried them. HATE rebuy tourneys.


Lego at 11:46 pm on October 12th, 2010

As for poker generally, I think I’m slowly falling out of love. The gaps between me playing are getting bigger & bigger. Sometimes I love it, sometimes I hate it, but I feel it’s sort of slightly bad for me, even if it doesn’t cost me any money, as I play freerolls or with freeroll winnings - that’s a rule I stick to, so it’ll never cost me anything, other than too much of my time.

I was liking it til about about 6 weeks ago, then I went on a really bad run, and got REALLY badly tilted - when I thought I’d actually got a handle on tilt too. Then felt like I was always going to lose, started getting pissy with people (which i normally dont). etc.

Although I’ve got some of my confidence back, I might have hit a tipping point, and might totally give it up…Probably… :D


King John II at 12:07 am on October 13th, 2010

Good to see Vicky back on home turf, it’s a jungle out there…...
I’m thinking of taking up poker, as some quick easy cash would not go a miss, only fools & horses, etc, etc. I am at present undertaking familiarization with the rules, courtesy of the final segment of Vicky’s book FRFP. Freight train a’comin’
From what I’ve seen of some of the characters playing poker, they wouldn’t last long against the king.
God save the king.


Rob King at 12:04 pm on October 13th, 2010

Well Played for the FT cash.

I actually bumped into you at the EPT London, but I didn’t say Hi, as you and Mr Channing were in deep conversation about something. I did catch a few of your hands later on though. That cold was not sitting well with you. Glad to hear you’re feeling better now.
I was there watching David Vamplew, who played like a star to win the EPT main event. When I left the Hilton about 4:30 am, I was rather worse for wear, and so was he. He did go on to win the Champion of Champions title for the UKIPT the next day. The Vigor of youth!

I do hope to see you at some of the UKIPT venues in season 2, I might even say Hi this time…


Jay at 12:49 pm on October 13th, 2010

I’m not surprised you’ve been on a dry run if you’re still playing stop-and-go like it’s 2006 as per today’s Guardian column.


Victoria Coren at 1:29 pm on October 13th, 2010

Lol. I’m just grateful I don’t still play like it’s 1991.

Thing is though, fashion is all very well, but some things just work. I promise, if you’re a female player that people assume plays tight, it is +ev to move in on a wide range of dry flops against a frequent pre-flop raiser. Not in this case, because he hit two pair. But I’m definitely in profit on it as a play; I guess some of my opponents must still think it’s 2006 as well ;-)


Peter Palladas at 8:55 pm on October 13th, 2010

Last week had my biggest MTT R&A coup ever: first place, 686 entrants, $5.5k ROI of $31.

Odd thing - spent much of the previous week catching up (as a life-long non-Guardian reader) with your columns here.

Surely some connection? I reckon so. Thank you then for that.

Hope the other stuff - life, cold, weariness - gets better soon.


Quo Fas Et Gloria Ducunt at 9:47 am on October 23rd, 2010

From the outset I should admit to knowing absolutely nothing about poker in any way, shape or form.  Nonetheless, out of sense of mild (or maybe morbid?) curiousity I watched Poker Stars last week to see what all the fuss was about. I remain nonplussed.  Admitidly there was a certain schadenfreude when the token geek, who had been plucked from obscurity, was annihilated in the first round.  The eventual winner also seemed like he knew his ‘onions’.  Otherwise, it’s not really a spectator sport is it?  The main visual excitement appeared to be the players randomly lobbing giant tiddlywinks across the baize.  Obviously there was a degree of utility in watching VC (even in slightly disturbing eyeware) but, to be honest, that was motivated by a shallower rationale than an enjoyment of poker.


Saul Richardson at 11:04 pm on October 24th, 2010

Thought I’d put this on here, it’s more on poker etiquette. Playing cash at the casino (0.25/0.50) but you have to start somewhere, however pots get quite big, so it plays more like a 1/2.

I get QQ raise to £6, one caller out of position, the rest fold. Flop comes 8 5 2 (two hearts). He checks, I bet £15, he raises to £35 (which I find odd). I can’t call as buy in is £100, so I am committing my stack, so I reshove all in, he calls.

The two cards that come down are relative bricks, he says I am on a draw and mucks. He didn’t show when all in. I don’t show my hand, dealer says I have to show my hand to win the pot, I don’t see how that is right considering he has mucked, he has forfeited the right to see the hand? He didn’t say but he either had 23 hearts or 67 hearts.


Victoria Coren at 10:48 am on October 25th, 2010

The reason for the rule which says that a player must show a hand to win the pot, even if their opponent has mucked, is to avoid collusion - ie. avoid a situation where collaborators are just passing chips between each other. Somebody must show a hand, to make sure chips aren’t simply passed between dark cards.

In other words, it’s not about your opponent having (or forfeiting) the right to see your hand - it’s about everybody at the table having the right to see *A* hand.


Victoria Coren

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