Victoria Coren Mitchell - Writer, Broadcaster & Poker Player

Last Bahamian Highlights - And A Proper Film!

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Well, I’m back from the Bahamas. I didn’t have my mini-video-camera with me for the last couple of days - which is a shame, because those were the days I played blackjack with Verne Troyer and poker with Ricki Lake. Get me, gambling in secret with Hollywood stars! But hey, at least I had the camera when I was looking at a stuffed crab in a shop window.

For those who are missing the video action, I’ve got some proper footage for you at the end of this post - a whole TV show. First, some final highlights from the Bahamas:

1) I made a final table! Yay! It was the ladies-only event and I don’t usually play those, but I made an exception (rationale in my poker column here) and was very glad I did, when I made the final and finished fourth for $9,312. That was where I played with the American actress turned talk show host Ricki Lake, who also cashed, in 6th place for $5587. I was impressed with her play: aggressive, committed, unafraid to move all in when she sensed weakness. These are usually the aspects of tournament poker which newer women players find difficult to grasp. Take a note, ladies: when in doubt, ship it in.


2) Another highlight began when I was playing blackjack with a funny American guy who’d just done his money in a $5-$10 Omaha game. I like making friends at the blackjack table, as long as the other person understands the rules: the friendship lasts for as long as you’re both at the table, not beyond, and you have to concentrate on the blackjack at the same time. I liked this guy, he was fun and amusingly bitter about the cash game he’d just been playing. There was something very English about his tone; his acerbic comments made me homesick for Ashley and The Sweep in my home game. He was complaining mainly about the last hand in which he went skint.
  “This crazy gambler, playing any four cards”, the American moaned. “It was the dumbest piece of luck. I flopped a flush, he had two pair, we got it all in. I shoulda run it twice but I was so behind, I was stuck, and there was like $8000 in this pot so I didn’t. Course the madman hits a boat on the river, now I’m here.”
  Sadly, our blackjack game, and friendship, ended when it was time for me to go off for dinner. Hard though it was for me to tear myself away from the action, I’d made plans with John Duthie, the Mr Big of European Poker, and nobody stands up Mr Big.

  “How’s your trip going?”, I asked.
  “It was good tonight”, said Mr Big. “I had a great hand against this American guy. I flopped two pair, he had a flush, we got it all in….”


3) Bumping into Jake Cody and James Dempsey at the airport for the return flight. Dempsey was wearing shorts, an Italia 90 shirt and a giant hat. Cody was clutching a toy wolf that played tunes. They looked like a couple returning from a honeymoon they’d won on a game show. Cody may be one of the most terrifying opponents in modern poker, winning $1.7m last year alone, but you wouldn’t think so to see him asleep on a plane with a cuddly toy clutched in his arms. I’m normally frightened of flying, but not with that sight across the aisle…

  So, home at last, and here is the promised “proper footage”: grown-up, professional Channel 4 televised poker. This is properly shot and edited, with real action coverage, rather than just me holding a £50 camera at arm’s length and waving the three of spades. And it’s quite fun poker - basically it’s me talking too much, worrying about my glasses, drinking tea, trying to smash it up on a tough table with Kevin “ImaLucSack” MacPhee, Anton Wigg, Celia Lin and Fabien Quoss. Sadly I got unlucky on Day 2 and ended up not cashing in the tournament, but (if I say so myself) I played pretty well. See if you disagree, it’s the first episode of the London EPT 2010.
  (It’s 50 minutes long although, barring a couple of quick interviews, I don’t appear until 24 minutes in, so you can always scroll forwards if you just want to see how badly my hair needed washing.)

  Next stop: EPT Deauville.

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nutty at 7:30 am on January 20th, 2011

You dont play WPT tournies in usa?
And do europeans pay taxes on
ept winnings? Thanks.

Victoria Coren at 12:51 pm on January 20th, 2011

No, I’ve never played a WPT tournament. I can’t travel as much as many players because I have a job as well, so I only go to America for the WSOP.

Tax rules on winnings differ all over Europe, but we don’t pay it in the UK.

Zach at 12:52 pm on January 20th, 2011

Great poker and I like the banter. Ordering the tea is the funniest bit.

JazBenz at 1:27 pm on January 20th, 2011

2) first of all, LOVED the Mr Big comparison, priceless. Secondly… oh come on you are making this up with Duthie and depressed guy from blackjack (laughing uncontrollably)... that is some crazy awesome “happens-only-in tv-shows-coincidence”... but I believe you -> *speechless* cuz Im so amused by it.

I’m excited about seeing you at the EPT London, but I’ll have to wait for youtube or pokerstars to upload it :/ - so my comments will be delayed.

-> “basically it’s me talking too much, worrying about my glasses, drinking tea, trying to smash it up on a tough table”

and that is why I adore you :) - at the risk of me flattering you too much again I will say the following in order to balance it out . You suck for not taking down the Ladies’ event. I am very disappointed in you Victoria.

jim carr at 4:21 pm on January 20th, 2011

Victoria, you pop your laundry in before setting off to play poker? What happened to your polish char lady,did you sack her when you found out that her twin 11 year old daughters were cheerleaders?

Joe at 4:45 pm on January 20th, 2011

Hey Victoria,

I saw you in the EPT episode in London on C4 - you have a new fan here and I enjoyed watching you knock out the A -10 guy; certainly added flavour to the beer I was drinking!

I’m new to the game and have only started taking it seriously the last few months - so much to learn, but it makes a really fun hobby. Very refreshing to a see a strong British lady like yourself representing the poker scene in this country.

Cheers and good luck for your future tournaments!

seven2off at 8:33 pm on January 20th, 2011

First time I’ve ever seen footage of your ‘‘A game’’ in action, very impressive.

Would you ever consider taking one of those little cameras to the Vic and recording a few cash game hands to post up here….?

Often wondered about that game, I know you spend too much time there, a little glimpse of it would be sweet.


Victoria Coren at 1:41 am on January 21st, 2011

Ahh, it’s a nice idea but all cameras are banned in the card room! Which, to be fair, is probably the best for all concerned….

Amanda at 8:04 am on January 22nd, 2011

You did play well. Attack seems to be the best form of defence.

The two things that struck me were:

1. How young everyone was in the EPT tournament. If you think of bridge or horse racing (where eighty year old monarchs like to participate), there was a distinct absence of pensioners. It’s surprising given how eternally popular poker has been.

2. How the fiddling with chips has been turned into an art form of dexterity. If you can’t fiddle with your chips, then no one will believe your bluff.

Chris at 3:44 pm on January 22nd, 2011

Watched you in the EPT video.. fascinating! Didn’t understand hardly a word but enjoyed it regardless. I WAS surprised at just how much chatter there was during play, especially when you were challenged as to why you upped a bet so quickly - I didn’t realise that kind of thing was acceptable as the guy was clearly trying to establish/read you as to whether you were bluffing? ..and ‘yes’ your hair really did need some kind of attention didn’t it but it’s poker not a beauty pageant eh? Be lucky

KenSingtone at 1:11 pm on January 31st, 2011

I watched the London EPT Episode,  the first time I have seen you in poker action.  You were very impressive, a nice example of Vicky “Teacup” Coren in action ordering tea.
I see what you mean about the hair, but it does nothing to spoil your charm, especially when you play so well.  Cleverly conceals something else perhaps?  I will say no more - although, it’s nothing to do with poker, about which I know too little, (yet anyway). 

It was rather amusing that the earlier part of the program showed pokerstar Elky arrive two hours late at his table after going off to prepare his hair for TV.  Fun reversal of stereotypes there. 

Still squimish over contact lenses?  I used to be like that, but I found that age dulls the senses a bit and I’ve worn them since I turned 30.

Victoria Coren

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