Victoria Coren Mitchell - Writer, Broadcaster & Poker Player

Picture diary: Monte Carlo Day 2

Thursday, 30 April 2009

In a moment I shall publish some lovely pictures from Monte Carlo day 2. But first you must bear with me while I howl with anguish about my day. Even if you’ve already heard it, in 140-character nuggets of misery on Twitter.

  I’ve played so well here, I really have. I accrued enough chips to lose that horrible pot with AA v TT yesterday, and fought back to average chips at the end of the day. Today I had another nasty early hand with an AK and slid down to 25,000 - but doubled back up with QQ and then really fought to build my stack up chip-by-chip. This involved, in one case, calling all three streets with 99 when there was an A and a T on the flop, going with my gut that the bettor had nothing (which he didn’t). In another case, I called pre-flop and on the flop, then moved all in on the turn with 5 high. When I had 80,000, I really felt I had earned those chips.

  Then, with blinds at 800-1600 and a running ante of 200, I found KK on the button. A very glamorous Chinese lady with multi-coloured jewellery and brightly painted fingernails, who had recently come to our table, limped in middle position. I made it 5500. Then the Italian player in the small blind, who had only 20,000 total, started to think. I prayed for him to move in so we could get it heads-up, but he flat called. Flop came 3 5 T. The lady checked and I bet 15,000. The Italian called all in. Then the lady raised all in, for about 17,000 more. Well, I had to call. There was more than 65,000 in the pot already. Of course she had a set of threes, and the Italian…. Q8 ! Q8 ! I couldn’t blame the winner of the pot, as I might have been the third caller with a small pair myself. But him? If he had moved all in, or passed, she would have passed. Instead, it felt as if he was determined to sabotage his own tournament and take me down with him.

  Luckily, the very next hand I found aces. Better still, a player made it 4000 under the gun and my Chinese lady assassin reraised to 9000. I moved all in for 38,000. The UTG player passed and the lady started to think. She thought and thought. Then she gave me a cheeky smile, said “I’m so bad”, and called. She rolled over a pair of tens.

  Sure enough, just like yesterday, the ten slammed straight down on the table. Bang. I was out, in just two hands. It was one of those times when poker feels like the most brutal, masochistic thing that anyone could be crazy enough to volunteer for. I might be sponsored by Team Pro, I might already have won my big tournament, but I can tell you the pain is still so real, so deep. I was wandering around in a total daze. That kind of coup - or those kinds of coups, back to back - feel like some sort of punishment. You ask yourself what you have done to deserve it. It feels like getting beaten up.

  It’s been a weird trip. My old friend showed up here - you remember the one I wrote about a few weeks ago, who stopped being my friend overnight, at a weird horrible time when I’d just lost my father, and I never understood why? I sent him a cute text across the tournament room, asking if we could have a drink while we’re here. He completely ignored it. That was upsetting enough, and continues to be baffling: combine it with the fatal aces and kings, and I’ve started to wonder whether I sleep-walk and do terrible things that I don’t even know about. Something that merits harsh punishment. Murder? Using the word “chillaxing” in conversation? I admit, during this tournament, while fully awake, I wore sunglasses indoors: maybe that’s it? But they were only prescription ones so I could see the flop.

  On the plus side, I wrote a chapter of my book while sitting on a balcony overlooking the sea, which might be the most glamorous thing I’ve ever done. And I ate a delicious packet of Haribo from the hotel minibar, which is certainly the most expensive thing I’ve ever done.

  Here are today’s pictures. The first shows a lovely group of British players outside the tournament room. Look out for the fact that, while Michael Greco’s olive complexion is perfectly suited to Riviera life, and Mr Big is so cool that he fits in anywhere, the other two are evidently seeing daylight for the first time in decades. The second picture is of my tournament table: all iPods and hoodies, modern poker in a nutshell. And the third summarizes my EPT Grand Final, 2009.

Playboys & Vampires.

The Modern Player’s Birds-Eye View

My EPT final 2009: the upshot.

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Clyde at 7:11 pm on April 30th, 2009

Big hugs of commiseration Vicky. Poker isnt really a game that favours the brave. All in on the turn with 5 high. Im sure i could never have the guts to do that.

Martin Jump at 7:13 pm on April 30th, 2009

Rotten luck Vix, perhaps you’re saving it all up for something bigger in the year. Your book may top the charts for months and earn you millions…

Can signed copies be pre-ordered anywhere, certainly would like to treat myself to one for my birthday (November so there is time yet)

Martin the Pieman

GlasgowGooner at 7:43 pm on April 30th, 2009

Was following your tweets. All in all a bad day without doing anything wrong.Sometimes it just doesn’t matter what you do if luck is against you. They look a cheery bunch at your table :-)

Rachel at 8:31 pm on April 30th, 2009


You know this, but I’m going to say it anyway: it ain’t karma, it’s variance.

I feel your pain, but it sounds like you played a blinder (and although wearing sunglasses indoors is pretty, err, wanky - sorry, but there’s no other word - it doesn’t seem to affect the luck of most of the rudeboys who swagger into my local casino every weekend) so don’t blame yourself.

And besides, you’re in Monte Carlo! Who cares if a sandwich costs 20 quid? It’s gotta make a girl feel glam.

Good luck for the next one. Or at least no hideous, dizzying, gut-wrenching bad luck - you can take care of the rest yourself. 

Thanks for representing us British poker-playing girlies so well xx

Karyn Burnham at 10:55 pm on April 30th, 2009

The modern players birds-eye view - they look like the undead!  I can’t believe you look anything like that whilst playing.

Eisuke at 11:21 pm on April 30th, 2009

Victoria, all I can say is sick… Done like a kipper while holding Kings then Aces—you have the right to feel grumpy and kick sparkly gold ornaments around (which I’m presuming are prominent in Monte Carlo casinos…)

On another note, I always find your writing clever and also so honest in the things you share.  A dear friend of mine has recently waved goodbye for no real reason too, so reading your blog, I would jab a blunt pencil in my right eye to receive a cute text from a so-called friend. 

Hope the poker gods smile on you next tournament and you can smile with your old friend sometime soon!

Victoria Coren at 1:19 am on May 1st, 2009

Thanks all, for lovely cheering comments xx
  But I wouldn’t try to order the book yet Martin - it’s supposed to be published in September but I have to finish it first! I can certainly promise that, whenever publication looms, I will make a big noise about it on here…

Greg at 1:21 am on May 1st, 2009

So sorry you got shafted like that, poker really does seem to be a cruel mistress.  Hope you get to subdue and dominate her again soon.

Francis Chu at 4:30 am on May 1st, 2009

Bad luck there.
I do have an issue with the third picture.  Shouldn’t the currency be in Euros?

Jim at 9:20 am on May 1st, 2009

I was also party to the tragic chain of tweets. Horrible pair of hands and nothing you could do. Either chalk it up as variance (cold thing to do) or just remember the poker gods owe you another final table. Just make sure you’re there to collect…

Clyde at 11:17 am on May 1st, 2009

Look on the bright side. At least you didnt get groped by a diminutive Italian on this visit to Monte Carlo.

Brian at 11:35 am on May 1st, 2009

I have very little idea of what anything you said means (call yourself a writer? oops now I’m turning into an Observer troll). But clearly it was a shattering experience. Hope you get over it soon. Will you have a column in the Observer this week? Looking forward to bitterness and bile.

malc at 12:03 pm on May 1st, 2009

I`m so gutted you got knock-out.
Its put a downer on my weekend as well!
I just wish i could make your pain go away.

Victoria Coren at 5:20 pm on May 1st, 2009

Hi Brian - no Observer column this week. Probably just as well….

BulletProof Jackson at 3:49 pm on May 6th, 2009

Hey Vix,

Great blog and shame about the EPT result! I once read/heard that playing poker is not about winning but about making the right play - whatever the result.

Appreciate words are kinda lame when you get busted by tens but sounds like you did the right thing (again - saw your awesome london final!!)

Victoria Coren

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