Victoria Coren Mitchell - Writer, Broadcaster & Poker Player


Saturday, 16 March 2013

  There’s a famous short story about a time-traveller stepping on a butterfly and affecting the development of the universe. In poker, there are many situations where a series of apparently random things (the small blind having a superstition about A8, the waitress arriving at a particular moment, the cut-off having a train to catch) feed in to the outcome of a pot and, perhaps, a whole tournament.

  On Day 3 of the EPT London Main Event, as per my previous blog post, a series of little dominoes (a doorbell too early when I needed sleep, a morning of headachy work crises, a badly-timed table draw, an emotional moment, a blinds blind spot) led to my exiting just before the money and being pretty depressed all round.

  But it was exactly that series of events, plus embarrassment at having handled a situation badly, that caused me to go into the ensuing High Roller tournament with a level of determination I can’t remember ever feeling before. I was utterly committed, emotionally and mentally, to having a good run in this next event. I felt like I had something to prove to myself, and maybe to others watching.

  Well, the end of my London 2013 saga is that I made it to Day 3 of the High Roller too, with much happier results: I’ve just been knocked out in 6th place for £67,130. It’s not an outright win, but I’m incredibly pleased and proud - it was quite an intensely tough field. Alongside my final table in the UKIPT High Roller event last Saturday, it turns this year’s EPT London into a very good one for me - which would always mean a lot, being my home town, but more so than ever because I know how easily I could have let it all crumble after the exasperating near-bubble on Wednesday. I feel like I managed to scrape together a bit of strength of mind to come back from that.

  It also occurs to me that, to win £67,000 in the Main Event, I’d have needed to finish 7th. On that disastrous Day 3, we were scrapping over the prize money for 94th place! If things hadn’t gone wrong and I’d made it into the money there, and then (with an average fall of the cards) I’d finished something like 50th or 30th… well, I wouldn’t have felt the same determination about the HR event, might not have cashed in it or even played it, and would have finished the week worse off! Plus, I really learned something that day, and will know better if a similar situation comes up in future. So maybe it was all to the good? God moves in mysterious ways.

  Not that I think God particularly troubles Himself with the prize money in poker tournaments. But I expect I will give some of it away, just in case.

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MJ at 8:03 pm on March 16th, 2013

Congratulations Victoria!
Was very entertaining (and tense!) following your tweets over the last few days. I’ve never played poker and my only knowledge of the game comes from having read your book; you’ve obviously explained it well as I can actually follow your tweets and was totally engrossed!
Definitely good karma I think, hope you do something nice to celebrate!

Miss Deeds at 8:52 pm on March 16th, 2013

After this week, you were definitely due some good karma!  Good on you for getting back in there and fighting.  I’ve been following your Tweets/blog all week (As a non-poker player, i seem to have become strangely addicted to playing poker vicariously!) and having read your book, I can even follow most of them. Very glad it’s worked out well and you’re happy with the final result.  :)  On a slightly unrelated topic - I have to ask, how many times have you read Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass?  I spotted several references… hope things continue to work out well. Good Luck for the next tournament. x

Victoria Coren at 9:34 pm on March 16th, 2013

Hi Miss Deeds. The answer is: many times! Thanks for noticing; there is a deliberate seam of Alice stories running through my book, so I’m glad some readers have read those too!

lucy at 9:44 pm on March 16th, 2013

so happy everything worked out in the end!:D im currently reading and very much enjoying your book, and i love reading names of poker players in the book and then seeing you tweet them!

The Tim at 9:47 pm on March 16th, 2013

When you talk about suspicion about A8 - are you referring to Wild Bill Hickok’s last hand? (Excuse my ignorance, I know next to nothing about poker but a little about the Wild West).

palladian at 9:53 pm on March 16th, 2013

You’re a good woman. And a fine poker player. Can scribble a bit too. Some television hosting on the side as well.

Your dear Pa would be so proud.

Miss Deeds at 9:57 pm on March 16th, 2013

Hi Victoria, thanks for replying.  Not only did I notice them but you’ve inspired me to reread both Alice books to see whether I missed any references!  I’m not getting any tidying done but I’ve reread three fantastic books!

David Dunbar at 9:58 pm on March 16th, 2013

In the end a good week.  So pleased. 

As K&C may have said (if they ever had their own Sunshine Band),

‘the “Queen of Clubs” certainly didn’t say “I’m a Pushover”, and she can put on her “Boogie Shoes” whilst she’s “Dancin’ in the Streets”’! 

That’s it, no more KC and the Sunshine Band ‘jokes’, I promise!

When is your next poker tournament Victoria?  Be great to support and follow you again!

Liz H at 9:59 pm on March 16th, 2013

Glad you came out with a good result. I’ve been following your progress with interest the last day or two and just checked back in to see what had happened.

Love the last paragraph of this post. So matter-of-fact. Don’t think I can work it into my sermon for tomorrow morning though.

(Rev) Liz

Greg at 10:03 pm on March 16th, 2013

Hi nice run Vic, glad it all came together for you in the end! What did you have in the hand vs Fabian Q when the board was something like KxxKx with 3 diamonds and you check shoved the river?

Meg at 10:05 pm on March 16th, 2013

I know this is prosaic, but we all have bad days, but it takes a special kind of determination to bring a new kind of shape to the misfortunes that happen day to day (to everyone) and then to use them to drive you on with a certain amount of hopefulness. I’m really pleased things have worked out for you Vicky. Congratulations!

Judith Tucker at 10:14 pm on March 16th, 2013

Just following you on Twitter this week has been an emotional roller coaster, and i don’t think my nerves would have taken it if you had got to Heads up. Well done, not just for coming 6 th, but for turning things around.  Great tweeting.

Kevin Johnson at 10:43 pm on March 16th, 2013

Well done Victoria on every level. Another amazing piece of writing and such a complete antipathy to the last but just as honestly phrased. I will read both whenever I feel life getting at me or too serious!  gl

Sparrow at 10:56 pm on March 16th, 2013

Nice one Victoria, glad you got over the horrors..

Sparkly at 11:01 pm on March 16th, 2013

As a poker playing fan, and in contrast to the non-poker playing comments, I’d like to pass on my congratulations….. F@-&ing; get in!!!

Laurie at 12:07 am on March 17th, 2013

My first virtual poker tournament. Loved it. Keep it going. Just discovered the twitter thing. Yourself,Sue Perkins and Stephen Fry seemed a good way to start but adding my comments to such intellectual high brows is a bit daunting

Pauline at 12:10 am on March 17th, 2013

Hi Victoria
I lost my fiancé to leukemia two months ago, he loved poker and admired you so much in pretty much everything you do. Since his death, I had never felt closer to him than I did over the past few days following your tweets. I have never played poker, but I found it riveting. I felt like I understood his passion a bit more. He would have loved it. Congratulations, and have fun celebrating!

Kirsty at 12:10 am on March 17th, 2013

Well done Vicky, not only for finishing 6th but also for getting over the emotional turmoil of the EPT.
I’ve never read a blog or tweet before Wed, I only looked you up through Bluff magazine, but I’m glad I did. I will avidly be following you from now on. I’m not sure my passengers will be amused tho, I was rushing between bus terminus’s to catch up with your progress ;)
Keep up the good work!

Victoria Coren at 12:34 am on March 17th, 2013

Dear Pauline,
  Thank you for that amazing and very moving message. I am so very sorry for your loss. I wish you strength to get through this difficult time, and warmest wishes,

Leg0h0h0h at 12:43 am on March 17th, 2013

Not convinced about karma. Too many prominent karma dodgers around/been around for my liking. Stalin, Mugabe, Savile.

Tend to think life’s more random. But it can throw up some interesting patterns, occasionally. Hey, you never know, maybe there’s a fate, of sorts.

BTW I have the universal, portable solution for anyone about to be unexpectedly on TV but totally unprepared:

Nice win, Vicky :)

Donald at 10:01 am on March 17th, 2013

Well done Victoria, glad to see you’ve put the troubles of the past week behind you, even if they were a blessing in disguise. Been reflecting on your previous post a bit more - it illustrates the high value you place in your readers and I, like others who have said so, am grateful for that.

I would also like to acknowledge Pauline’s very moving comment and send her my best wishes.

Scaramanga at 10:07 am on March 17th, 2013

Congratulations on a great finish in EPT London. I thoroughly enjoy your poker tweets. Please keep it up.
It’s surely no coincidence that your committed and determined approach led to a good finish. If you get in the same frame of mind and can replicate that determination and commitment then more excellent finishes and wins will surely follow.

gamblah at 12:51 pm on March 17th, 2013

any time you get more than you give, its an outright win in gambling!

Rachel Kranz at 3:01 pm on March 17th, 2013

Victoria, just wanted to send my profound thanks as a fellow poker player (who played quite badly against you at last years WSOP Ladies’ Event, as it happens) for having the courage and generosity to share your story.It meant an enormous amount to me in my own ongoing battle to rise above circumstances and “play great no matter what,” and in my struggles to accept the times I don’t hit the mark. As writer, player, woman, human (are we grandiose enough yet?), THANK YOU for sharing your stumbles and for finding so much meaning in both victory and defeat.It’s a gift beyond any amount of cash you could give away.

jim carr at 3:37 pm on March 17th, 2013

victoria,there is no such thing as karma. there is luck,both good and bad,and you have experienced both this week. karma belongs in the recycling bin along with astrology, voodoo,tarot etc. enjoyed this post more than the previous one which was an extended whinge.

stephen at 4:10 pm on March 17th, 2013

Very well done Victoria. I wish I could play Poker, 67k is certainly nothing to be sniffed at! I’m not on Twitter, so I can only ask you things on here…Do you have any ideas or plans for your next book at all?

J at 4:45 pm on March 17th, 2013

Congratulations Victoria! So glad to see things worked out for you. I too have been following the saga on Twitter, and while I’ve been following your tweets through many tournaments, I must say this in particular was a wild ride! So, thank you for bringing us along with you.

Pauline at 10:01 pm on March 17th, 2013

Thank you Victoria, and thank you Donald. It’s strangely heartwarming to receive thoughts from people you don’t know.
I’ve decided to move to London next month (I’m French). I hope your fellow citizens are all so kind ! xx

Torquil Macneil at 4:27 pm on March 18th, 2013

This is all well and good, but what I want to know is HOW DO YOU PLAY 99 UTG? You can’t keep us hanging on like this!

Sue M at 10:24 am on March 22nd, 2013

Hello Victoria,

Thank you so much for the donation of your signed book for our auction to help Henry which I’ve put it on page 1 of the auction website - website

I hope the write up is OK! Thank you so much too, for the other generous item you sent.

It really is kind of you and I’m sure the book will help us raise a lot of money.

I’ve seen you on Have I Got News For You and Question Time and love your humour. Your blog on here is fascinating!

Thanks again, I’ll let you know how much the book raises.



Victoria Coren

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