Victoria Coren Mitchell - Writer, Broadcaster & Poker Player


Quick Work In Deauville

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

  I’ve just gone out of the EPT Deauville - like, just now, only two hours into the tournament. This blasted event has never been lucky for me; I love the location but I’ve played it several times and, as far as I can remember, never even made day two. But it feels different this time.. more significant.

  I think it’s because I entered the tournament in quite a Zen frame of mind, for an un-Zen type of person like me, and decided to turn the whole thing into a giant metaphor. It’s a cliché to say that poker offers lessons for life (and vice versa), but true nonetheless. I went into the tournament today thinking: you know what? All you can ever do is act fearlessly and with hope, do everything that’s in in your power and be philosophical about everything that isn’t. Put it out there and see what comes back.

  More technically: I wanted to play tight on day one. My mistake in the past, in this particular field, has been to play too many hands and see too many flops. I’ve always found myself on gambly tables and been anxious to get the chips before they disappear. Actually, though, the old rule remains wise: play loose on a tight table and tight on a loose one. Discipline was going to be my watchword today.

And I didn’t play too many hands. I played two big hands. On the first, I flopped a set of tens and my opponent turned a middle-pin straight. He shouldn’t have had that hand, but I knew he did. Knew he did with 100% certainty. We were three-way so I called his undersized bet on the turn, knowing I’d get paid off if the board paired. It didn’t and I made a good pass of my set - the luckbox showed his straight, cheering loudly as he did so.

  An hour or so later, I raised with AQ of diamonds and got one caller. The flop came 10, 3, 7, two diamonds. We both checked. The turn was Jd. He bet, I raised, he called and we got it all in on the river. He had a straight flush. Thanks Deauville and goodnight.

  If I woke up today full of ideas about hope and powerlessness, I certainly had the message confirmed. The outcome was so far out of my hands, I couldn’t reach it if I had fingers like Freddie Krueger. I tried my best. I was patient but fearless. I did what I thought was right, for the right reasons. The universe said: nope.

  I feel strange now, and sad. I’m sanguine about going out of the tournament - I always am. I’m glad I didn’t do anything stupid, and I really didn’t. But I feel sad. I was the one who turned it into a big metaphor for life, before the tournament started, and the message “The deck’s against you and you’re OUT” came so fast and so definitively, it was almost satirical. Powerlessness wasn’t much fun today. I wish the universe had been in a more benign mood. I dunno. I’m tired. I miss my dad. Poker’s cruel sometimes. (But if my dad was here, he’d say, “You don’t come here for the hunting, do you?” He loved that joke.)

  Oh, shut up Victoria. Accept the things you can’t control and some of them turn out beautifully, don’t they? Hope springs e. and all that. The principle’s still right - you can only do what you can. Just because the guy had a straight flush, doesn’t mean everything will always turn out terrible. One game doesn’t actually mean anything at all, about poker generally, never mind life. That’s just superstition, like thinking it matters if you wear pink socks. I think I shall go to sleep for a bit and wake up full of positive energy and renewed optimism, make a note never to blog again straight after a tournament exit, and then go sign up for a side event.

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Comments

palladian at 4:00 pm on January 25th, 2011

Big hug for a bad day.

You should try KK on K-3-9 rainbow flop. I bet, chappie raises, I shove and we go for it. He has A-3 off-suit. Fool! Dolt! I love him!

Turn is another 3. My boat floats, my spirits soar. “What can possibly go wrong now?”

River, of course, is the case 3 giving him the flukiest quads in Christendom. Ever. Period. Hanging too good for him .etc., etc.

Summonsing what dignity I can muster, I turn to the exit my head held high. And his ripped-out, blood-gushing throat in my vengeful hand. Which was nice.

Take a hug, have a nap, wake refreshed and go fight again.


Victoria Coren at 4:19 pm on January 25th, 2011

Excellent, that made me laugh. Thanks Palladian. ULTIMATELY EVERYTHING TURNS OUT FOR THE BEST, that’s what I’m going to sleep telling myself; what fails completely to destroy and all that. Plus, they do a very nice orange juice here.


MarkJB at 8:13 pm on January 25th, 2011

Oh Victoria
I don’t know anything about poker but I like the way your account sounds sort of… cosmically philosophical… sort of Eric Cantona -ish.
Clearly it’s losing its meaning for you as a game that earns some dosh and is now a rehearsal for something great,.. something like.. saving the planet (?)  xox

PS
I understand there may be a job or two going at Sky Sports football commentating. Please apply, I know you’d be brilliant.


Chris at 9:20 pm on January 25th, 2011

I really feel for you VC. Snuggle up, and sleep it off.. tomorrow is another day.. zzZ


JazBenz at 10:26 pm on January 25th, 2011

Imagine what would’ve happened if you had won and gotten through to day 2, would you have thought of your dad’s joke? Maybe this was his way to cheer you up? ;)

Also you wouldn’t have written this wonderful blog. Whenever you pour your heart out, you make us empathize with your sadness, you make us laugh and you make us feel inspired, you make us feel connected. =)

So it didn’t work out today, we always have tomorrow! I’m sure the Universe just had a better plan :) -  Just accept the moment and be aware, there will be new opportunities, that otherwise could not have manifested, it’s just up to you to see them :)

Now when all the sadness has passed, heal, rise up as the magnificent soul that you are and continue to be fearless!

This isn’t flattery, just my way of cheering you on :)


Victoria Coren at 10:46 pm on January 25th, 2011

Thanks Jaz, that’s really kind.


jim carr at 12:24 am on January 26th, 2011

vitam regit fortuna non sapientia.  xx


Ken Singtone at 6:32 am on January 26th, 2011

Jaz has a point, would you swap your memories of your dad for a win? I doubt it. After all, you can win (or lose) any day. 
I wish I could be sure anything I write will help, but anyway, I hope you are feeling happier today.

I can at least say that the chance discovery of your website has helped sooth some of my own sorrows, so thank you for that and (excuse my French) Bon Chance!


Julian at 11:44 am on January 26th, 2011

You never fail to make me laugh! Whether it be on the telly or on here, your sense of humour is second to none. I know this isn’t blog-related, I just wondered what your views were on the current sexism row involving the Sky tv presenters? Storm in a tea-cup or, valid argument?


Victoria Coren at 3:16 pm on January 26th, 2011

Well it feels like a bit of a storm in a teacup to me - in fact, I’d say that seeing a female linesman come on and saying “Someone will have to explain the offside rule to her” is quite a good joke - but then, I’m in France. It might feel different closer to home. Looking online, it seems like they actually meant it seriously, which is hilarious. Generally I think it’s wrong for anyone to be sacked for an opinion expressed privately, however idiotic.


Adam at 4:46 pm on January 26th, 2011

Just waiting for a tournament to start, I thought I’d check your blog. Kinda wish I hadn’t now. That sort of thing happens with alarming frequency down here on the penny tables.


Alan C at 10:01 pm on January 26th, 2011

I feel for you, I’ve been there myself.
Don’t take it to heart it’s just the universe telling you that a much better competition result is on its way for you.  Let them celebrate their short lived win,  you will bounce back big style and remember you have all your admirers supporting you and wishing you well.
Alan xx :-)


Philip at 8:48 am on January 27th, 2011

I also assumed Andy Gray was making a fairly sophisticated post-feminist joke. That he wasn’t is fairly amusing in itself. Peter Reid was also great when interviewed by Eddie Mair, trotting out cliches such as ‘political correctness has gone mad’ without a trace of irony.

Lovely stuff.

Anyway, now he’s gone I think he should probably be replaced by a female pundit. Preferably one with nice big jugs though, eh lads?


Jon Briggs at 12:05 pm on January 27th, 2011

You got it in right (i would prob have shoved the turn to be fair) and it certainly will not affect future happiness etc etc(you know all this…!) so just carry on regardless. The poker gods will smile again one day,maybe even next year at deauville. PS - Surely they are not dungarees?!?!?! - just SO not you…...


Jon Briggs at 12:14 pm on January 27th, 2011

I will offer 6/4 that an attractive lady takes Richard Keys role…...
Seriously.
For all Skys bluster about this incident,when did you last see a woman not generally regarded as “pretty” (and young come to that) on ANY Sky Sports channel…..

That seems intrisically worrying to me. I think. Or should i Just go and locate a life?


markey at 12:56 pm on January 27th, 2011

This’ll salve your sibling career envy - (which even i pick up on Only Connect):

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1350829/Sky-sexism-row-Why-right-women-sexist-MEN.html

There you go. He has to watch Loose Women. Mark my words, he’ll end up like a be-stubbled Liz Jones.


Ronnie at 1:09 pm on January 27th, 2011

The real joke Philip is that they probably will!


Palladian at 1:50 pm on January 27th, 2011

Will you be writing a column on the ‘Massey affair’ - compared to which l’affaire Dreyfus now seems almost a minor skirmish?


jim carr at 2:34 pm on January 27th, 2011

As an intelligent woman who has considerable experience of tv and radio studios, I would imagine you would treat microphones and cameras as LIVE, regardless of whether you were on air or not. Gray and keys didn’t do this, and their sacking/resignation owes more to their lack of professionalism as to anything they said. Surely ron atkinson’s demise was a warning to all who broadcast? Keep racist, sexist, or just plain insulting opinions well away from mikes.


Ronnie at 3:22 pm on January 27th, 2011

The Penny Drops
I am going to sound like a crazy person, but a few weeks ago I was watching a rerun of Have I Got News For You in which you appeared. I was inexplicably drawn to your sense of humor and found myself laughing along like a madman to your quips and comments. But I couldnt understand why your particular wit struck me so.
I googled you and went on to find this home page. Everything I read continued to tickle me (and I cant even begin to pretend to know anything about poker! What the hell is a river!?)
Finally I saw your page on books containing the one with your dad, and the penny dropped. I used to love watching your dad on Call My Bluff when I was a child! That’s why I clicked with your sense of humor! It all made sense.
Sorry for my ramblings. I just felt i needed to express my gratitude for the many laughs your family has provided me over the years. So Thanks :)


Alex at 5:42 pm on January 27th, 2011

The universe likes to take the piss. I’m super poor and spent a while trying to qualify for a big online tournament. I succeeded, and waited weeks for my life changing bankroll-starting to begin. I ate, drank and slept poker. Well actually I didn’t do any of those things.. I was too busy thinking about poker. I decide I won’t even play a hand for a bit, check out the field etc etc. So the big day arises and I sit down with my provisions to AA starting hand. Bollocks. I should have folded preflop but actually I did the correct thing and got it all in with one caller. And goodbye Alex. However, I like to believe the universe does it to make us better players. Control the bad beat, and get on your way. I’m not there yet but you’re certainly good enough to!...


Alex at 5:43 pm on January 27th, 2011

...Do you find you have certain moods where you cannot play for toffee? How do you get around that?


Chris at 8:39 am on January 30th, 2011

After a lean December blog count you have really spoilt us all with your video antics and so many posts this January. Thank you.


Chris at 6:36 am on January 31st, 2011

Morning lady vic, sorry for your lousy tourney day but aside from the solace found in your genius father’s words and that of all your fans, you know you played well and yes sometimes it feels life wants to remind you who is in charge, especially when you put extra thought into that tourney. You could toss a coin or cut a deck but the one time you say ‘oh but this stands for whatever’ that’s when it will mess with you. A G&T, a hug and reminder you’re there and we are freezing here,  that’s better. PS Are there weekly tourneys you play regularly on pokerstars ( cheap ones, I am working on a bankroll) 


Chris (the other mod) at 6:50 am on February 2nd, 2011

Just read some of your recent twitter traffic.. Dear God! Stop VC! You’re erudite, eloquent, intelligent and a crapload of other positive things but IMHO you are destroying yourself with such an intense cyber ‘life’! My perception is of a very unhappy woman who just wants to be that little tomboy loved so much by her dad again. Covet the cherished memories but get offline and out more. There’s someone out there waiting to meet you and for you to fall in love with. Won’t post any more. Know I’m out of line but just tellin it how I see it. Sorry X


Caroline at 10:22 am on February 2nd, 2011

Hello Victoria…well done re. poker (amateur on-line player myself), thanks for ‘Only Connect’, a fave prog in our house.
Just one more thing, hope you don’t mind my telling you here. My 17 year old intelligent, beautiful, blonde daughter thinks you’re ‘The business’...as do all right-thinking women do..
much respect
Caroline
ps….Do follow you on twitter, but not in a weird way…not a stalker :)


RomanticRecluse at 7:10 pm on February 2nd, 2011

Dear Victoria,

The Guardian and Observer style guide says “Take care using language about mental health issues”, the G and O’s leaders have talked about how people with mental illnesses should not be stigmatised and you’ve talked about being bullied and your mental illness but in your latest Obs column you’ve pictured a fantasy nutter.  What does that say about your values?

I think your column was misjudged, in terms of humour and analysis because you don’t understand psychology, society, neurology or the causes and effects of mental illness.  You could and should have known better.

I hope you get the point that I’m trying to make in a polite and respectful manner and will reflect on what you wrote, perhaps with reference to Buddha’s teachings on “the seed that is sown”.

Love,

RR


Victoria Coren at 12:16 am on February 3rd, 2011

Gosh, thanks for those comments - and hello to Caroline’s lovely discerning daughter - but Chris, please don’t worry about me and Twitter! I love Twitter, it’s fun. Of course I miss my dad, and thank you very much for your concern (we’re all unhappy sometimes), but I’m not spending my life hunched over the computer (or not all of it!) - I get out quite a lot. I’ve been in three different countries over the last three weeks, I promise I’m out there…


Liliane Lijn at 1:03 pm on February 4th, 2011

I am staging Power Game at the Arches in Glasgow on March 11th. I think you will find it interesting. Please contact me for more information. best wishes Liliane


Ken Singtone at 2:41 am on February 6th, 2011

RR - I’m sorry that you were upset by her article (no space to comment about that here), but I am horrified by your suggestion that Victoria has some sort of mental illness.  Admittedly I still have a lot of catching up to do with her written output, but from what I have discovered so far, Victoria Coren is my definition of sanity.  That she should miss her dad, and have moments of sadness only strenghtens that view. 

Victoria, it hurts me when I read that you are unhappy, but it is an honour to share in your pain and I would not have it any other way. 
If sharing it in your blog brings any solace, and if any of our replies bring you even just a small moment of joy, then it is all worthwhile… and of course,  I am so glad now that Kitty is bringing you so much joy.


Victoria Coren at 1:13 pm on February 6th, 2011

Thank you very much. I don’t have serious or chronic mental health problems, I am grateful to say (or at least, no more than anyone else); I think RR is referring to my book where I wrote about a period of taking anti-depressants, but we’re all unhappy sometimes.

  As for the piece, I used the phrase “a bit mad” but it was only to describe the act of sending anonymous hate mail, it wasn’t in relation to anyone with a mental health disorder. I agree with the style guide that one should be careful with these words, but that doesn’t mean slashing them out of the language entirely. The point is taking care not to belittle or ridicule any genuine illnesses, not to excessively censor the rich and wondrous English language.


Victoria Coren

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