television presenter takes home cash prize of £391,932 after overcoming
the odds to win European Poker Tour
Her introduction to poker came when as a teenager
she joined a game, using her pocket money as a stake, in an effort to fit in
with her brother's friends.
Now Victoria Coren Mitchell has made
history by becoming the first two-time winner of one of poker's most
writer and TV presenter took home £391,932 in cash and a watch worth more
than £4,000 after overcoming the odds to win the European Poker Tour in
San Remo, Italy.
I"I WON! I bloody WON!!!!!!" she tweeted after a finale
in which she fought back from eighth place. She added: "Sorry for that language
on Easter Sunday. But I WON!!!!!! That is at least partly thanks to the amazing
support, God bless everyone."
A member of the elite Team PokerStars Pro,
Coren Mitchell rose from relative unknown to poker superstar in 2006 when she
became the first female winner of the European Poker Tour. Her second victory,
on Sunday night, takes her lifetime winnings to £1.43m and puts her in
the all-time top 10 of female poker players.
Speaking from her hotel room in San Remo on
Monday, Coren Mitchell said she felt "a sense of vague bafflement and joy" at
the win, which she hopes will inspire millions more Britons to play the game
once associated with seedy clubs and crooks.
"The big thing for me is
trying to fly the flag for people who are playing poker primarily for fun and
have another job. I want those people to feel they have a chance at winning,"
"We will close 40-50 this year. We may now have to look at
closing more," he said.
"You don't have to be a full-time professional,
or a teenage maths graduate who studies videos all day long.
incredibly inclusive game, for men and women, for old or young. I've played
with the blind and people in wheelchairs, we can all do it. I want women to
feel encouraged and not be put off but the bigger thing is everyone should feel
While some poker champions would celebrate their jackpot
with a night on the tiles, Coren Mitchell, 41, instead went back to her hotel
with her husband, the comedian David Mitchell, and ordered room service. She
did, however, manage to see off a bottle of wine at the poker table.
The journalist, who writes for the Observer and presents BBC4's quiz
show Only Connect, has the reputation of being one of the most popular
and respected players on the poker circuit.
"I think I'm quite
quirky in poker because there still aren't many women playing big tournaments,"
"I have another job and I sit at the table drinking wine and
chatting. Poker's a strange game because it's face-to-face combat and we're
trying to knock each other out and take each other's money but at the same time
we're all friends."
Ross Jarvis, editor of PokerPlayer magazine, said
Coren Mitchell's win came at a time when professional poker veterans are
fighting it out with a new generation of online whizzkids, many of whom have
won millions before they turn 20.
"You have players who are the best in
the world who are well-known in poker, then there are so many young players who
you won't have heard of until they burst on the scene. Within the hardcore,
there are people as famous as Victoria but when it comes to the mainstream
she's in a league of her own," Jarvis said.
Coren Mitchell, the
daughter of the late Alan Coren, a broadcaster, and sister of Times journalist
Giles Coren, has said she first played poker to fit in with her brother's "big,
brash, confident" friends and to double her weekly pocket money.
Howard Swains, who writes about poker, said it was difficult to think
of a more popular champion. "Coren Mitchell is without question the best known
poker player in the UK and her endeavours in the media she is a
journalist, television personality, film director and all-round raconteur
have endeared her to huge swaths of the mainstream," he said.
"Poker is going to enjoy an enormous uptick in popularity, clinging on
the coat tails of this sensational triumph."
Victoria Coren Mitchell triumphed over 555 competitors to win
the San Remo leg of the European Poker Tour, one of the three biggest poker
tournaments in the world. The total prize pool for the week-long event was
£2m, of which Coren Mitchell scooped £391,932 and four others won
The European Poker Tour, launched by PokerStars.com 10
years ago in a Barcelona casino, is now a global fixture in the poker calendar
alongside the World Series of Poker and the World Poker Tour.
Vegas-based World Series of Poker remains the grandaddy of all the tournaments,
handing out £132.2m in prize money in 2012 and sponsored by the gambling
monolith Caesars Entertainment.
With total winnings of £1.43m,
Coren Mitchell sits ninth in the list of the all-time female poker earners
one place behind Liv Boeree, the 29-year-old TV presenter from Kent.
Coren Mitchell's second European Poker Tour victory propels her to 22nd
place in England's rankings and 355th in the world rankings. The American
maverick Antonio "The Magician" Esfandiari is the No 1 all-time poker earner,
with total winnings of £15.6m (including a £10.9m jackpot in July
2012, the largest cash prize in the history of the game).