Victoria Coren Mitchell - Writer, Broadcaster & Poker Player

Vegas Memories

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Played there for the first time, using fake ID. Won $200 playing seven card stud and lost $500 playing roulette. My friend Nicky and I had budgeted around $400 for the whole trip. We had to come home early. Meanwhile was so stressed by using fake ID, I became addicted to smoking.

As a birthday present for a boyfriend who was a big Tom Jones fan, I bought a whirlwind trip to Las Vegas: two plane tickets, two nights in a suite at the MGM, and front row seats for Tom’s residency. How great a girlfriend am I? He immediately started sleeping with somebody else.

A famous poker player came up to me in the middle of Binions card room and whispered ‘I wanna taste your arse’. It was genuinely terrifying.

Got heatstroke, after drinking cocktails at midday outside the Golden Nugget on the hottest May 9th in Vegas since records began. Spent four days alternately hallucinating and throwing up in a grim hotel room at Excalibur.

Had a broken heart that year. Luckily, whenever you think it’s impossible to feel any lonelier or more overwhelmed by the pointless brutality of existence, Las Vegas can always prove you wrong. Main memory is of lying in bed on the 18th floor, taking all the valium I’d brought for the return flight in one go, and realizing why they don’t let you open the hotel room windows.

Stayed at the Gold Coast.

Flew back early because my dad was ill.

Got there late because I had too much work. Played 4 events, cashed 0. Did my brains on blackjack. Head all wrong, totally distracted. Couldn’t win on anything. Serious, mental, punishing, stupid casino losses, the kind you embrace when you’re running away from other things but (looking behind you to test the distance) you smack into a wall and break a couple of teeth. Threw more cash at the problem. If it had been an actual toothache, I could have bought five years with Martin Amis’s dentist. Missed my dad. Worried about my mum. Got some moral support from nice local friends, phoned UK, got some more, felt better, had great main event Day One. Had car-crash main event Day Two. Got slow-rolled out of the World Series [for full joy, see “Guardian columns” on the poker page]. Had a really pointless baffling row with a friend. Gained weight. Borrowed money. Lost it. Left a treasured piece of jewellery at the Wynn, won’t be seeing that again. Realized had not brought anything smart to wear for PokerStars party. Spent $750 on leopard-print Dolce & Gabbana dress in which I looked like the cast of It Ain’t Half Hot Mum doing a Christmas revue. Mutton dressed as a leopard. Cheered myself up by donating a quick $500 to the blackjack fund at the Palms. Played one session of cash poker – my guaranteed winning game – the entire trip. Lost $4000. To Roland. Remembered that escape is just a fantasy. Problems creep into your suitcase for the flight in both directions, like spiders lurking in a crate of bananas. Not conducive to good poker. “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas”, like hell.

Bring it on. This is my favourite city in the world.

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James at 5:39 pm on July 17th, 2008

Been thinking about this and decided that Don, Melvyn and Windsor putting on a Christmas revue wouldn’t necessarily be such a bad thing.
Never had a famous poker player say ‘I wanna taste your arse’, though I was once propositioned by an old girl in a Bingo hall in Stevenage. Whilst the experience with the famous poker player must undoubtedly have been terrifying, just be thankful it didn’t happen in Stevenage…

Messyjay at 9:12 am on July 21st, 2008

Definitely the best Vegas blog of the year.  Left out how many times you woke up and thought, I should be sleeping…  I can’t sleep.

Henry Crun at 2:40 pm on July 24th, 2008

“Mutton dressed as leopard”. Hardly mutton Victoria, don’t do yourself down.

peter at 4:50 pm on February 23rd, 2010

just wanted to say i love the way you write.  i loved your book but you know that already.

Victoria Coren

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