Victoria Coren Mitchell - Writer, Broadcaster & Poker Player


Postcard From The Bahamas

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Atlantis, Paradise Island, is incredible. I’m not saying it’s over-sized or artificial, but it makes Las Vegas look like Baden.

  I love it, obviously. Huge, glitzy, full of man-made lagoons, pizza stalls everywhere, what’s not to love? If Dolly Parton were a hotel, she’d be this one. Just my cup of tea. Bear in mind, I am a person who (after about three days in Monte Carlo) starts thinking, “Hmm, I’d look good in that blue angora jumper with the rhinestone terrier’s head on it…”

  The climate’s fantastic. I’ve never been anywhere like this except Vegas, and Vegas is so super-hot and so bone-dry that everyone always feels ill there. Nassau is about 75 degrees, like a perfect English summer’s day, with just enough humidity and just enough breeze. If I never wanted to go to the theatre or eat salad again, I’d live here. So I might as well put in the application now.

  I’m pretty exhausted though. Day 1a of the PCA finished at 1.15am, and I had to be back in the tournament room at 9am on Day 1b (theoretically the “day off”) to perform my duties as British captain in the World Cup of Poker – which turned out to be a 15 hour day. It was just like any other World Cup, really: the British played the best, most exciting and most flairy game; Germany and Italy ended up in the final.

  I really do think we fielded the best team. We had Karl Mahrenholz, Steven Devlin, Derek Morris and Lawrence Houghton. I didn’t know them all beforehand but they all turned out to be great players. I didn’t give them any advice or make any substitutions, I was happy to sit back and watch them all playing their own natural game. What the hell, you can’t tell a man to play against his instincts. I particularly enjoyed a moment in the middle stages when I thought: This is a time to steady the ship, sit back a little, let the short stacks knock themselves out, wait for strong hands and set a few careful traps. Who’s up next for Britain? Ah yes, it’s ‘All-In Stevie’.

  We went into the final as chip leaders, thanks to some good results in the preliminary one-table SNGs. I won mine, which (having failed to lock up first place in any of the Premier League Poker heats) makes me think I play better with a sense of collective responsibility than I do for my own sole fate. Then again, a hand came up in the final where I raised with AJ and the American on my left reraised all in; playing alone I’d have called immediately, but I was so worried about depleting the team stack that I folded. I nearly subbed myself off the table at that point, but the next hand I made myself feel better by moving all-in with queen high. No callers, thank God.

  Before the final started, I was convinced we were going to win. But I told the team: I don’t care where we finish, as long as it isn’t 5th. The money was the same for 5th, 6th and 7th – the top four spots were the real money, and 8th / 9th places would mean a proper night’s sleep - so 5th place would mean the worst ratio of invested time for money returned. We came 5th.

  But I was really proud of the team, and I’m pretty certain the TV coverage will show that the Brits were the most aggressive and dangerous players at the table. Until we were knocked out.

  I’ve run a little better in the main event, the $10,000 PCA itself. I think the tournament has a very good structure, and it’s particularly civilized that there’s a 15 minute break after every level. Very handy for smokers, compulsive eaters and anyone who’s pregnant. As for me: well, two out of three ain’t bad.

  Today (day 2) I was sitting next to Vanessa Rousso, who went out near the bubble with spectacular bad luck. She made an incredible call on the turn, for all her chips, with only one pair, despite there being a made flush and made straight on the board. Her bravery and instincts were rewarded when her opponent showed a sheepish straight draw – and punished when he hit the river. Vanessa went blue with shock, and I can’t blame her.

  But in some respects it was a relief to see her go. Inevitably, two chicks from Team Pro in adjacent seats, we had our picture taken a lot. Vanessa Rousso’s a woman who has just been photographed for the swimwear edition of Sports Illustrated. Sat next to her, I looked like Eric Morecambe. Looking at our blown-up photos in the lobby, the biggest of many physical differences occurs to me: Vanessa has American teeth. Mine are very English, ie. they look like a Suffolk graveyard. Patriotic though I am after my World Cup experience, I think I’m going to stop smiling in photos.

  But I’m sure it’ll be a struggle tomorrow: day 3. There are 100 of us going back, out of 1400 starters. Currently the money stands at $15,000. I’ve got about 200k in chips, which I think is roughly average. I’m pretty happy already, to be down to the last 100 and getting a decent chunk in my third EPT cash. If I have a good day, I’ll be down to the last 32 and in serious contention for the final. If I have a bad day, I’ll be free to go swimming with dolphins. Either way I’d better write a reminder on my hand: No Smiling.

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Comments

Alan Glaum at 10:52 pm on January 8th, 2009

it looks like you made the last 50 - so missed the dolphins again


Andy W at 12:30 am on January 9th, 2009

“It was just like any other World Cup, really: the British played the best, most exciting and most flairy game; Germany and Italy ended up in the final. “

Nice line but you clearly haven’t watched any football World Cup ever :-)


Victoria Coren at 3:57 am on January 9th, 2009

Not one single one.

And to be fair, I was very happy for Germany in the poker W Cup; they played well, and they’re a really nice bunch of guys. There was one guy I particularly liked, partly because I was convinced his name was Malty Scrotum.

Turned out to be spelt Malte Strothmann. But I iike him anyway. He’s funny and enthusiastic, and they deserved victory.

I know nothing about football.

Nb. Yes, still alive! This must be the most card-dead day I’ve ever had in poker; my only “real” hands in 7 hours were JJ, 33 and 44. With each round costing 16,000 when we started play and 36,000 when we stopped, I had to do a lot of judicious nicking, get paid with the jacks and get lucky with a 56 offsuit. So I’m very happy, having finished day 2 with exactly 200,000, to finish day 3 with exactly 400,000. Not too many chips, but they were hard-won. 32 of us going back tomorrow, money currently at $40,000, and surely it’s nearly time for me to see the dolphins?


Francis Chu at 9:33 am on January 9th, 2009

One question about the World Cup.

Do you get to keep any prizemoney won, or does it all go to the other players?
I don’t think you need to worry if you don’t get any of it, as you have some already at the PCA.


Heinrich at 10:43 am on January 9th, 2009

Two things:

Congrats for still being in the tournament - I hope you’ll win this! Then you can BUY a whole pool full of dolphins and a blue angora jumper ...

And second: I hope you told Malte about his new “nickname” ...


Andy W at 12:39 pm on January 9th, 2009

Ah, comedy names, the Continent’s greatest contribution to football.  Did you know that Ryan Donk and Phillippe Degen are both Premiership footballers ?  You do now !

Show them some British flair today, GL !

Andy.


Dickie D at 12:49 pm on January 9th, 2009

Switching your boomswitch on for you today.
Hope you run well. Fantastic job so far.
D x

Benny Chen 1999000 3 1
David Michell Baker 1454000 3 2
Hafiz Khan 619000 3 3
Andy Fitzpatrick 933500 3 4
Victoria Coren 400000 3 5
Jason Paster 336000 3 6
Paul M. Greim 442500 3 7
Justin Rollo 310000 3 8


David Bodycombe at 12:49 pm on January 9th, 2009

>because I was convinced his name was Malty Scrotum.

Yeah, he was often seen hanging around with Kuntz.

*runs*


Sam at 2:09 pm on January 9th, 2009

You’ve got, what, 10bb left?  I see what negreanu was talking about when he complained that this tourney has a fast structure if you’re currently average stacked.  Good luck with the shoving!


Victoria Coren at 10:33 pm on January 9th, 2009

re. the World Cup money - yes, hurray, I also got my share of our prize pool, $2000 to each player including the captain. Very nice.


mmmkoolux at 8:23 pm on January 12th, 2009

keep smiling. don’t you lose it. i sincerely hope you win your next tourney. it would be totally cool and awesome if i get to play with you someday. best of luck and take care always.


Victoria Coren

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