Victoria Coren Mitchell - Writer, Broadcaster & Poker Player

Premier League: The Upshot

Monday, 1 December 2008

(This is a spoiler for anyone who wants to watch Premier League Poker next year without knowing any results. Click off if so!)

So, well, I didn’t make the final. But I made the semi-final play-offs, which has got to be a result after an official public press release which said I’d come last! I even did better than Phil Hellmuth
  I honestly think I played the heads-up very well. Tony G played it great too, so totally deserved his place in the final, but definitely got better cards in those play-offs. I know it’s not really about the cards (especially heads-up) but when you’re both playing aggressively, it’s very hard to escape coups where you flop one pair and he flops a bigger one. Etc. At least I managed to delay my exit by avoiding going broke in a couple of cooler situations, and winning a few pots with no hand. Can’t do much more than that. The only real mistake I made in the heads-up was not raising with an A8, when Tony played with my head by calling in the dark.
  I think the key, for me, was a mistake I made in my last heat by not raising with an AQ - a heat I needed to win, to qualify automatically for the final. I played the hand to win a very big pot or get knocked out, which was unnecessary. But there was a reason for that; it was based on some misinformation that Roland gave me about other people’s points position. He says it was an honest mistake…. But, despite driving to the studio every day past a big movie poster which said TRUST NO-ONE, DECEIVE EVERYONE, I guess I still haven’t learned my lesson…
  Generally though, I’m very happy with the tournament. I’m sorry to those who bet, but 20/1 was a good price. I had a top 3 finish in my first four matches, and could easily have won at least one of them, perhaps if my KK had stood up against JC’s A6…. And I think I played well. I think I played, basically, correctly. My opponents may not have thought so (I’ll find out from the commentary, if I can bear to watch it) - but hey, the whole point is to be counter-intuitive anyway, right?
  I also suspect I might have a better chance of being invited back next time if I’d jammed it in a bit more often with the old 10-5 offsuit, as some of my fellow players did… I mean, of course that’s fun to watch… but variety is the spice of poker. And I definitely didn’t make any mistakes as crazy as Nenad Medic did in his last heat - which I’m going to write about in my poker column on Thursday, it’ll be worth a read.
  I did, at least, try to compensate for my boringly “correct” SNG strategy by overdressing wildly and making jokes in the interviews. Next time, I hope to see Juha Helppi employing the same strategy. I’d like to see him in a leopard-print evening gown.
  I really do hope I get to play this tournament again because I’ve made the final before, I know I can do it again, and I’d go in next time planning to win it OR DIE TRYING. Either of which would, surely, make good television.

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Francis Chu at 8:32 pm on December 1st, 2008

Two questions.

How much was the buy-in?
How much money did you end up winning?

Jon MW at 9:11 pm on December 1st, 2008

I followed the updates online and I think you’re right that you just didn’t get the rub of the green on the day in the heats.

You could play the HU a million different ways in the same situation so I think it’s pointless commenting on that.

I’ve got my fingers crossed that both you and Annette are in the next series as well. Is too much of a push to think that they might even stretch to a third girl? Or would that make it too hard to work out who was meant to be having a cat fight with who?

Victoria Coren at 1:08 pm on December 2nd, 2008

The buy-in was $75k and I won $44k. So, you know, could be better / could definitely be worse. Devilfish took $12k, I believe; that’s an unlucky week…

  And yes, I hope Annette gets asked back too. She had similar results to mine - made the play-offs and got unlucky there to lose 2-0. It’s kind of interesting that we played the whole tournament completely differently and got basically the same result, but she too had every chance of making the final and winning.

Tom at 9:02 pm on December 2nd, 2008

what was the final table line up vicky?

Victoria Coren at 12:06 am on December 3rd, 2008

The finalists were Tony G, Tom Dwan, JC Tran, Roland de Wolfe, Juha Helppi and Peter Eastgate.

David Bodycombe at 4:57 pm on December 3rd, 2008

One thing I’ve never quite understood about these TV events is why would anyone go on them, apart from the obvious attraction of dressing up in leopard skin and being drowned in Poker Brat Spittle.

Is the “added value” put on top of the entry fees - presumably by the sponsors - really that enticing at the top end of the payout? It seems a bit harsh to come mid-table and yet pay (*lowers voice*) 20 grand for the privilege. Maybe we should do this for the next series of Only Connect. Might wake some of the contestants up a bit.

And I never did understand how the TV companies got around the law of televising real-money gambling.

Wayne B at 10:29 pm on December 3rd, 2008

Hey VC,

I’m sure you’ll get asked back, I always find your play and table presence entertaining and that doesn’t mean you have to get it in with T5o all the time :)

What were your thoughts on durrrr and the way he played?

Rrrr at 10:40 pm on December 3rd, 2008

I know - it’s very easy to comment a poker tourney from the desk, an orange juice in the hand and Freddie singing “Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy” in the background. Of course, some bare notes from a forum will never enable one to judge comprehensively (and maybe this is all WAY too advanced for me), but I disagree with you: I do not think you played boringly correct SNG strategy. No worries, I very gladly leave further assessments to the professional grumblers in the respective forums. However, if you wished a profound analysis (a strictly technical discussion, of course), I’d suggest a cup of tea in a cosy little café (the Ritz?!) Yeah. And since it usually takes two for a tête à tête, I might just as well keep talking to my beloved screen ... and caress it with longing desire.

Victoria Coren at 4:15 am on December 4th, 2008

I thought ‘Durr’ played some exciting flairy poker, and will be great fun to watch, though I believe that he (along with a few others) just want to play too many speculative hands when the chip stacks and clock don’t quite allow for it. I noticed a couple of moves he regularly made which I suspect would be extremely successful in a cash game - there’s one particular thing he does (I won’t go into too much detail, as I might meet him again one of these days!) which is very similar to something Neil Channing does, to very lucrative effect, in the Vic cash games. But I’m not convinced it’s perfectly suited to this format. Still, he is certainly capable of playing occasional amazingly impressive pots. And some very nutty, inadvisable ones. It reminds me a bit of how I play snooker.

  As it happens, it turns out that I’ve played Tom Dwan a couple of times before, in EPTs; I remember seeing him the second time and thinking “Oh dear, there’s that very good & dangerous player again, I remember him from last time”, but not connecting him with the name Tom Dwan. I didn’t realize until he walked into the studio and I thought, “Oh THAT guy!”. The last time we met in an EPT, he decided to run a big all-in bluff against me when I had a set. So I will never say that he isn’t a very nice man.

  And of course he’s a very good player, I can see why he cleans up online. But the person I felt was playing best, the best strategy in the best way, over all the matches, was Juha Helppi. I’ll be interested to see if it looks that way when the series comes out.

Victoria Coren at 4:25 am on December 4th, 2008

PS. David, why play - because yes the added money is absolutely an important factor. If you feel that you have a good chance (which I do, even in that line-up) then the added money certainly makes it what the youngsters call “+ EV”.
  Also, it’s brilliant fun. I mean, it’s an utter nightmare, but it’s a good fun nightmare along the way.

David Young at 8:59 pm on December 5th, 2008

In a Grauniad column last month, you wrote:

“But ignore this advice if you play Dewey Tomko - the only man ever to take the title with AA.”

I’m a bit confused. Tomko was runner up in 2001 when his AA got beaten by Carlos Mortensen:

Have I misunderstood something?

Victoria Coren at 11:38 pm on December 5th, 2008

No no, this was comprehensively discussed on the HMF - my only excuse is that I was averaging about 4 hours sleep a night that week and my brain had turned to cabbage. For some reason I remembered Tomko winning the WSOP with aces, not getting knocked out with them. Sorry sorry…. Oh well. If that’s the worst mistake I ever make in my career, I’ll have done ok…

Kenn at 12:35 pm on December 6th, 2008

i know the TV loves the 10-5 offsuit but every time I watch someone doing it on TV I just end up thinking, why are they doing this? It’s such a low prob hand. I guess that’s what makes it good on the TV, entertaining or whatever.
What’s the worst hand you have ever won with? you rarely see a hand going all the way when 2 or more players have nothing and it’s just the high card winning

Victoria Coren at 7:11 pm on December 6th, 2008

Oh goodness, I’ve won lots of money with all sorts of terrible hands, 72 and beyond. But that was in cash games…. Certainly in tournaments there are times when you have to move all in, whether you have a hand or not, and if you get called you can still win the pot by getting lucky. And you can win big pots by calling on the end with just a high card, if you’re sure your opponent has either the nuts or nothing at all. But in the early stages of a fast tournament, that’s when I would be steering very clear of the 10-5s (and also the A-5s) !

Victoria Coren

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