Victoria Coren, or Victoria Coren Mitchell, is hard to nail down; she is a writer, television presenter, and professional poker player, but those labels are a bit inadequate to describe her.
Born in Hammersmith, United Kingdom, but having grown up in Cricklewood, Coren had a fairly normal upbringing. When she was fourteen, “inspired by lonely Jo March from Little Women,” she sent a submission into Just Seventeen magazine; the story was published, and Coren was paid £90 (“Biography” par 2). That was all it took for her to be set on becoming a writer. After that, she got a job with Daily Telegraph writing a column directed at teenagers and held that post for four years.
After graduating from St. John’s College, Oxford, Coren worked as a freelance writer and broadcaster through the 1990s. In 2003, along with fellow writer Charlie Skelton, Coren published Once More, With Feeling, which recounts the pairs attempt to create the “greatest porn film ever.” The story about how this book, and project, came about was best expressed in a review by Stephanie Merritt when she wrote the following:
During their afternoons reviewing porn films for the would-be-highbrow periodical the Erotic Review, companionably munching HobNobs on the sofa as they compare notes from Rocco’s Anal Ski Vacation, it occurs to [Coren and Skelton] that the majority of porn films have pitifully little storylines or character development, and that as professional writers they could almost certainly do better. (“The Porn Brokers” par 4)
The book was well received by most critics, with a good bit of praise given to the humor in the book.
However, three years later Coren added another career to her resume when she became the first woman to win a European Poker Tour (EPT) main event tournament. Coren was introduced to poker as a teenager, but this win took her from obscurity to prominence in the world of professional poker. Her 2006 EPT win was groundbreaking, but she changed everything when she became the first person ever to win two EPT titles after she won the European Poker Tournament San Remo main event. To date, Coren has won over two million dollars playing poker professionally. (“Poker,” Victoria Coren Mitchell par 2).
Coren regularly plays cash games at the Victoria Casino in London and attempts to play in as many tournaments on the international poker circuit as possible (“Poker,” Victoria Coren Mitchell, par 2.). She also became a member of PokerStars Pro and regularly endorsed it up until November of 2014. She removed her endorsement, and quit PokerStars, shortly after they announced they were adding casino games to its site, citing her concerns about gambling addiction as her motivation for quitting. When asked about her choice to quit PokerStars, Coren stated:
Poker is the game I love, poker is what I signed up to promote. The question I’m probably asked most often in interviews is about the danger of addiction, going skint and so on. I’m always careful to explain the difference between the essentially fair nature of poker, where we all take each other on with the same basic chance, and those casino games at unfavorable odds can be (especially online) so dangerous for the vulnerable and desperate.
Although PokerStars assured me I would not have to actively promote the casino arm, I know in my heart that continuing in my current role could risk helping to send people to a place where they would encounter something dangerous. That’s not the way I want to make a living. (“Victoria Coren Mitchell Quits PokerStars Over ‘Addictive’ Online Gambling Casino” pars 4-5)
Coren’s view and her decision is a part of a larger debate that is ongoing in the professional poker community, online poker community, and in the world of gambling in general. She has a very sincere love for the game of poker but is uneasy about the changing landscape that is unfolding with the addition of casino games to poker sites.
Despite her breakup with PokerStars, Coren keeps playing the game she loves, and she keeps writing. She has even written about poker; her memoir For Richer, For Poorer: Confessions of a Player recounts her life experience with the game.
Outside of poker, Coren regularly contributes columns, looks for new writing assignments and is always looking to build on her life. In 2012 she married David Mitchell, and in May of 2015, they celebrated the birth of a daughter.
Sources and Works Cited
“Biography.” Victoria Coren Mitchell. (2015). 30 Nov 2015. Web
Brinded, Lianna. “Victoria Coen Mitchell Quits PokerStars Over ‘Addictive’ Online Gambling Casino.” International Business Times. (2014). 30 Nov 2015. Web.
Halliday, Josh. “Victoria Coen Mitchell Makes Poker History With San Remo Victory.” The Guardian. (2014). 30 Nov 2015. Web.
Merritt, Stephanie. “The Porn Brokers.” The Guardian. (2002). 30 Nov 2015. Web.
“Poker.” Victoria Coren Mitchell. (2015). 30 Nov 2015. Web