EPT10 Sanremo: Chipping up and baffling the mainstream with Victoria Coren

It's always interesting to see Victoria Coren on the European Poker Tour, and not only because you're likely to get a better class of conversation from a humorist, columnist, journalist, quizmaster, documentary filmmaker, raconteur, scriptwriter and director than you are from the average poker player.

One of the other amusing distractions Coren brings to the EPT is her 230,869 Twitter followers, only a small fraction of whom understand poker. It means that whenever Coren opts to inform the wider world of her tournament progress, she ends up baffling thousands of her fans.


Vicky Coren, TV and poker favourite

You can practically hear the brows furrow as many of Coren's followers try to decipher poker-speak. It's as though it's even more confounding than the questions on the devilishly difficult Only Connect, which she presents on BBC4 (Monday, 8.30pm).

"Quirky couple of early levels for me," Coren tweeted earlier today. "Lost a big pot with KK, won one with 10-3. Funny game. Av chips now 65k, I've got 100k."

To a poker player, it all makes perfect sense. But within a couple of minutes, here are a few responses: "Translation, please." "What is that in real money?" and "I always go crackers with K9 cos I love dogs."

It's to Coren's eternal credit, as someone with a genuine presence in both poker and non-poker circles, that she continues to bridge the difficult divide so graciously. Coren remains the most high-profile poker player in the mainstream, particularly in the United Kingdom, and is invariably at pains to alienate nobody.

"Translation for non-spielers," she wrote in another tweet today. "I'm in Italy playing cards, with hundreds of other people, and I'm having a good time so far."


Coren: "I'm having a good time so far"

Coren's followers should count themselves lucky that she is so careful about her language. She played a hand at the end of the last level, which ate into the tournament break, and which was transcribed in my notepad as follows:

Open MP VC
2,100 CO Uluu
9,460 button Johnson
call VC
call HJ

9♠A♥3♦ ch, ch, 13K, call Vicky, fold.
Q♣ ch ch
K♦ 15K VC, 33,500, muck.

That pot, in which Coren got involved with Eldar Uulu and Mitch Johnson, ended up costing her more than 35,000 chips -- and she didn't even find out what Johnson had. It's a game of incomplete information, this, as well as endless frustration, notated in gibberish. Balderdash and piffle, in other words.

A word, though, about Uulu, who is sitting to Coren's left, and whose name will no doubt intrigue anyone with a fascination for words.

I for one have never seen a surname comprising only four letters, three of which are the same. What's more, Uulu is from the vowel-starved country of Kyrgyzstan, a place much-loved by quizzers who relish the unprecedented series of eight uninterrupted consonants. Just think what his countrymen could do with all those 'U's!

Anyway, follow Vicky Coren at @VictoriaCoren and help her out with the translations of some of this poker-speak. She still has about 90,000 chips and could be immersed in poker for a good few days yet.

Full coverage of EPT Sanremo is on the main EPT Sanremo page. There's hand-by-hand coverage in the panel at the top and feature pieces below.

Howard Swains
@howardswains in European Poker Tour