Victoria Coren Mitchell - Writer, Broadcaster & Poker Player

Making Money On The Sofa (2)

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Ooh… the tear-jerking single father. This is the closest we’ve seen yet to an X Factor winner. You can’t bet until the final nine are announced, but sometimes you see the winner in advance (Shayne Ward was obvious within the first few seconds of his audition; I was waiting for that market to open like an eager pensioner pitching a tent outside Wimbledon three weeks before the tournament).

  I wouldn’t say that Daniel Evans is a shoo-in yet – he doesn’t have an astounding singing voice, so might not even survive boot camp – but everything else is in place. I cried during his audition. A male friend of mine cried during his audition. He appears to have all the requisite Enid Blyton qualities I mentioned in the previous post on this subject. He is a brave, kind, straightforward, upright, immediately likable man. And he is overcoming something terrible, which happened through no fault of his own. If his voice gets better over the weeks, he could lock it up. I’ll definitely have a decent bet if he makes the live shows.

  It occurred to me, as the Poker Nations Cup is about to start (Tuesday nights on Channel 4, from September 16th) how little use these ‘X Factor Winner qualities’ are in poker. I was remembering the recording of the first Poker Nations Cup, back in 2006.

  This is, unusually, a teams event. The Danes and the Swedes showed beautiful team spirit. They went out to dinner together every night to discuss tactics and strategy; they gave each other tips about strengths and weakness in each other’s games. The Americans were also a strong unit, bonded together by a strong sense of patriotism and pride in representing their county. The Irish team, I need hardly say, were constantly together in the bar, drinking and telling stories – and they did the best job of making their online qualifier feel like part of the family. All of these teams were constantly in the green room when one of their members was playing, ready to cheer or console as the case demanded. And all the money won by individual players in individual heats was divided equally between the whole team.

  The British team… they were a little different. They certainly weren’t going to help tighten up any weaknesses in each other’s games, when this might backfire on the advice-giver in future (non-team) events. And when it came to turning up and watching each other play, they were a little distracted. Ram Vaswani had online poker to play. Tony Bloom had a massive gaming business to run from his hotel room. Devilfish and Julian Gardner had hangovers to sleep off. These are all friends of mine, and all good people, but I couldn’t salute them for good team spirit. They were also the only nation in the cup to decide against splitting the money: dog eat dog, every man for himself, your loot’s your loot and mine is mine. None of this messing about with sharing, bonding, fellowship, 24-hour support – these are poker players, not volunteers for the bloody Samaritans!

  And what happened? Straight to the top spot, first place, trophy banked, never in doubt. Their ruthless solo instincts were a strength, not a weakness. It was those same instincts that carried them through to success.

  What can I say? They were my home team, I was proud of their victory. But none of them would have a chance in hell of winning The X Factor – even though Devilfish in particular, I suspect, would love that more than anything else in the world….

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Mike Griffiths at 9:29 pm on September 7th, 2008

That’s truly made my evening!

charlie at 12:34 pm on September 8th, 2008

Devilfish doesn’t look bad for a man of 104 and I’m glad he seems to be enjoying himself. Its the reckless concern for the ears of others I find dificult to grasp….now that’s REAL SELFISHNESS.

Steven at 8:19 am on September 9th, 2008

It is just as well he can play poker as his singing career will not go far!

Andy the dealer. at 10:11 pm on September 9th, 2008

The slightly worrying thing about Daniel’s audition was the advert at the end trying to sell a book/cd for a Sports fan? Betting enthusiast?

Is someone taking advantage of your tipping to make a few quid peddling their wares?

As of writing he’s advertised at fifty to one with Boylesports.  Now that’s what I call a proper tip.

P.S.  Could you pass a tissue please?

Ian at 10:42 am on September 10th, 2008

Why couldn’t you have got Devilfish to provide a music score for the film?

Finished book, would be interested to know what happened to the guy who was deported (not giving away any other facts due to my respect for the author and the fact that she needs the book sales).

Victoria Coren at 12:26 am on September 11th, 2008

Thanks for asking about him Ian - I am glad to report that he is doing incredibly well! He finally got his visa and is back in Holland, legally, at law school! He’s also got very into painting, and recently had an art exhibition there where he sold some of his works. I’m just really proud of him, he is making a great life for himself.
  re. Daniel 50/1 with Boyle Sports… Hmm, tricky. In theory I think this is a lovely bet. My problem is, I never bet before the final 9 (or 10?) is announced and the shows go live. I’m not sure if the boot camps have been filmed yet or not, but I do hate to bet when something isn’t live… you know, just in case…

Jim at 9:22 am on September 12th, 2008

Spooky, I just finished the book last night and was going to ask about Michael too.

Good news all round I say!

(Also, great book, v.funny—very much enjoyed)

Victoria Coren

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