Victoria Coren Mitchell - Writer, Broadcaster & Poker Player

I love poker. I hate poker.

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

People have been congratulating me on being the “top woman” (or highest female finisher) in the 2008 WSOPE, and also on the “achievement” of coming 45th in such a high-calibre field after three long days of play. But right now I just feel miserable and sick. Exactly the same thing happened to me in the 2007 WSOPE: played really well for two days, had a grim and card-dead day three, moved all in when I saw opportunities (bravely, but not often enough), and got knocked out just before the money. I’d rather have gone out on day one. What’s so great about sacrificing two extra days of my life, for a bigger disappointment?

  I’m sure in a couple of days I’ll look back and feel proud of a few good moves and some crucial short-stack survival. On day one I was down to 3000 in chips, and came back to 50,000. Maybe I’ll feel encouraged, in a couple of days, to be reminded that I can get so very close to a £25,000 payout and rising. To misquote Allen Ginsberg, I saw the best minds of my generation go out before I did. Hundreds of them. But at the moment it’s just pain. Do I need to survive all of that, outlive some of the biggest threats, fight my way through another day and another day, travel back and forth between Leicester Square and my house nine times (including dinner breaks), double up, lose chips, double up, lose chips, get closer and closer and closer - and then BANG, out, nine spots before the money? No cash. No final table. No result to write in my special little “tournament results” grid. (I could write “Top Woman”, but that just looks stupid with no prize money attached.) Basically, all I’ve done is my brains on cab fares.

  Two seconds after I stood up in defeat, croaking my congratulations to Devilfish for the fair triumph of his QQ against my ATc - and I really mean two seconds; I was still unhooking my microphone from the TV table - a blonde girl bounded over with a big grin and said, “Are you going to collect your winnings now? We need to interview you after!”. Who ARE these people? They want to show up to cover poker tournaments for some website or TV show or another, and they’re not even interested enough to be aware that we’re still on the bubble? It’s not this woman’s fault; I’m sure she’s a nice person. But if you want to do exit interviews at a poker tournament, you have to learn how people are likely to be feeling. You have to say something sympathetic. Or nothing, to begin with, just be quiet. Every player who stands up - apart from the winner - has just got punched in the gut, and they need a minute. This girl’s cheery grin and chat about “winnings” just made me feel much, much worse. I had to ring The Camel and leave a string of expletives on his answerphone. I hope he didn’t listen to it on speaker.

  So now it’s nearly midnight. I’ve got to be up at 6.30am to go and do an interview for BBC Breakfast about the London EPT. Then, at lunchtime, I have to play the London EPT. It doesn’t matter, it’s good. The London EPT is the greatest event in poker. It would be my favourite, even if I’d never won it. It’s got £250,000 added this year by PokerStars. When I wake up (apart from the first stab of hatred for the alarm clock) I’ll be excited to play. I love poker. But I also hate poker. I don’t know how I’m going to sleep; I guess I’ll just lie there feeling angry. He had to have queens? HE HAD TO HAVE QUEENS?

  Still, bring on the EPT. I can only think of it with love. But if I don’t make the final this year, I hope I go out on day one.


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Ian at 11:18 am on October 1st, 2008


Unlucky, although we never remember the other situations where we were on the other end of the stick.

If you fancy a smaller stakes tournament and you are not going to the EPT in Warsaw, and you are not snowed under (metaphorically) in November, may I direct you to;=&tg=4&t;=

My friend is currently in Norway sorting out players to come over given the state of the game over there, I’m going over to help him out. We have a deal with the Hilton Hotel attached to the Casino for rooms.

Website currently goes elsewhere.

Good luck in the EPT, shame I didn’t qualify but that’s what comes from chasing an open ended draw and flush and then doing the same as you when someone had jacks.

Dom at 11:58 am on October 1st, 2008

uklucky Victoria, i work just across the road so popped in yesterday to see you (and Negranu, DevilFish et al) play. Was that a spangly dress you were wearing? Anyway i know how you feel, i busted out in 60th in a $5 MTT on full tilt last night! gutted. Admittedly i shoved with J10s but still.

Dickie D at 1:19 pm on October 1st, 2008

I wonder how many exit reporters have been punched ibn the face before?
Anyways… of luck in the EPT.

Ian at 12:22 am on October 2nd, 2008

Great job (assuming that you don’t go out in the next 10 minutes), keep it up.

David at 9:07 am on October 2nd, 2008

“But if you want to do exit interviews at a poker tournament, you have to learn how people are likely to be feeling. You have to say something sympathetic.”

No offence, Coren, but it would have been funny to see you ‘do a Bjork’ on the poor woman.

However,  it happens in other sports so I don’t see why poker should be any different. Is it any more crushing for you to have just finished out of the money and then be approached by some over-eager tableside reporter than it is to have given a wicket away cheaply in the final Ashes test in front of a baying Aussie crowd? Probably not.

Andy the Dealer at 11:38 pm on October 3rd, 2008

Well done Vicky on reaching the money in the EPT at the Vic!  Now the hard work starts….

One thing you can be sure of, in addition to the £1,000,000, the winner will almost certainly have a stinking cold by the end of it.  Most of the dealers have one and are reluctantly sharing it with the players.

I don’t suppose you’ve got any chicken soup in the freezer, that you can bring in, have you ?

It would be much better for us than chocolates.

Mike at 5:39 pm on October 4th, 2008

A woman asked me who Brian Townsend was - I pointed him out.  A minute later she was telling him to get his Full Tilt logo more central for the camera.  As it was stitched to his shirt, she asked him to change the way he sat.  He was in a hand - she was doing her job.

Reporters too are doing their job - unless you get one who plays they don’t appreciate the disappointment of losing.
Even cashing you may write similar to the above – ‘cash’, ‘move up the ladder’, ‘one more spot’.  Only 1st is ever good enough.

Still, I’m sure you were professional during your exit interview.  I overheard the ESPN crew stating you were an excellent interviewee, an intelligent wit, and had good replay value - so at least cheery girl will have gone home having had a good day at the office

charlie at 2:03 pm on October 6th, 2008

What about Dougie Anderson’s interview technique at the uk tour last year? That creased me up, he was either very brave or very stupid but I suspect he was just being that rarest of things, clever and funny. Looked like he was going to get a slap though, ‘do it for me one time,’ I yelled out loud but that’s just a [bad] habit.

Frank at 11:52 am on May 1st, 2009

I spent 8 hours in a police cell for saying
” For F*CK sake “................on my mobile phone!
Now, tell ya thoughts on this!
Not my words, words of an actor in the street, to a hooker ( an actress )
So, how can we pay someone to swear in public, then lock someone up for the same thing!
Why did i swear? had just been ripped off for some 320 hours work!
What a bullsh!t world ....VC
Never played live poker, would love to! Treat me to a game VC! Poor struggling artist here! lol

Frank at 10:16 am on May 7th, 2009

Hi Miss VC,
Bet you a byin, ($5:00. Im a poor struggling sculptor) you wont…...Discuss RNG with me!
No one does, ya chickens…
Next time you got a phone in ....or even comment on here! I dare ya!
Oh and nice suck out ....BUT you did get to the final table ....So ...even thought i detest playing women at poker I have to give it to you! Well done!
Trouble is Vicky ky ky ky ....that women ...dependending on the time of the month, have no idearwhat they are doing, and make stupid decisions!. You, just have to agree with that!
So…come on .....grow some balls, be the 1st celeb, if you are one! haha have a ruck with me ..on RNG!
Tata 4 now! Frank…Or Fwanky as my gran used to call me!

Adrian at 1:57 am on April 10th, 2010

Love it - hate it!  I wonder where you go when you’re there.  I wonder if you make contact with something.  Maybe it was someone who was not with you in so many ways, yet this became your way to connect.  Like a sat-nav that had found the main road closed off, so instead sorted a route along an unfamiliar path which got you through, and now has become a route you often travel - the love is getting close, and the hate is tied in with ‘him’ not being there!  Perhaps.

Victoria Coren

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