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on 4 June 2015
Readers of the late genius Alan Coren, greatest exponent of English literary humour since P.G. Wodehouse, may well remember a hilariously disaster filled episode in which he described his despairing attempts to feed the 6 month old Victoria at 2 a.m.
Well, she's a big girl now and no mean performer with the written word in her own right. Having no knowledge of, or interest in, card games or gambling of any description, I bought this book purely on the strength of the Coren name and V.C's television appearances. On first reading I admit to finding all the jargon and description of poker games rather hard going, but second time round it was much easier and well worth the effort.
This is the story of her journey from diffident teenager to accomplished international player in a fast changing world of seedy and exotic locations from dingy London clubs to Las Vegas and Monte Carlo, accompanied by a cast of characters to match, and full of incident.
She emerges from this book as funny, highly intelligent, occasionally vulnerable, definitely a woman of spirit, with a sharp eye for character and atmosphere, and the ability to get them down on the page. She certainly has what Ernest Hemingway ( and her father ) described as cojones!
Liked her before, like her even more now.
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on 23 September 2009
A lifetime ago I saw Vicky Coren in a pub in Oxford. Didnt know her from Adam Dalgliesh at the time - she stuck in my mind because although she looked like a right posh bird, she laughed like the lovechild of Sid James and Dot Cotton.

A few years later she turned out to be An Famous and more especially, An Famous who played cards on the telly. An Famous who played cards on the telly, who I'd seen in a pub. Brilliant. Pub Story Gold. According to the rules of popular culture she became an anecdotal fixture in my life whenever poker, laughing and/or posh birds came up in the conversation.

"That Vicky Coren, yeah she used to drink in my local, got the best laugh in the world that girl, and she plays cards on the telly. She's lovely she is."

All based on nothing of course but clearly repeated often enough to ensure that when Once More With Feeling hit the bookstores I got 7 copies as birthday presents. I had to return 6 of them and I'm pretty sure I'm still known to the staff in my local bookshop as "the porn book guy".

So, skip some years and replay the scene. This year I only got 4 copies of For Richer, For Poorer - clearly I've lost some mates over the years - but still not a bad show. In the birthday gift Top 10 that got her third spot behind some rather nice malt whisky and a painting by Sadie Hennessy - a good result for a random, one anecdote, half serious, 14 year old, pretend celebrity crush.

And now she's gone and ruined it.

Not only has she written one of the most honest books about the poker lifestyle ever, but in a surprise move she's thrown the rules of conventional Celeb-Biography out of the window - she's only gone and been straight up about herself.

No more mysterious, half imagined, poker playing posh bird with a cockney sparrow laugh, no more saucy funny bird tucked up on Charlie "it's not a panel show" Brooker's silly chair. Oh sure, she's still An Famous but now she's gone and revealed herself as an actual real life person too. A real person who has the same crap to deal with as the rest of us. A real person who gets down about herself sometimes, who sometimes gets overdrawn at the bank, who muddles on just like we all do. How on earth am I supposed to have a pretend celebrity crush on her now? Play the game Coren!

I suppose we had a good run but it looks like I'll have to buff up the Tracey Emin anecdote now and god alone knows where that'll all end up.

Buy this book. It's a belter, and so by all accounts is she.
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Victoria Coren has been playing poker for 15 years and unlike most gamblers, has won quite a nice sum of money, not least in 2006 when she won $1m in the European Poker Championships. The subtitle of her book, "A Love Affair with Poker" hits it on the nail, but this is a love affair with no happy ending, just a roller-coaster ride of ups and downs, complete ecstasy when things go well and misery when they don't.

You have to admire her persistence. She joined the world of poker when it meant mixing with disreputable people in dingy clubs, the lure of the cards overcoming the distaste for her surroundings. The book, For Richer For Poorer, chronicles her journey from playing her big brother Giles and his friends for pennies, through to the time when she carries a fat roll of bank-notes around with her.

You'd expect the daughter of humorist Alan Coren to be witty, and For Richer For Poorer is certainly light-hearted enough. Victoria can laugh at herself, and her self-deprecating, almost confessional tone makes the reader warm to her. The book is autobiographical throughout, starting with stories of her childhood and ending with the sad death of her father, the much loved writer and broadcaster.

Victoria hated school with a passion but writes amusingly enough about her childhood and her family. When she is freed from school she develops a stand-up comedy act and travels around America before going to University to study English Literature. On leaving she commences her career as a journalist and begins serious poker playing at the Victoria Sporting Club (the "Vic") in Edgware Road and at the Stakis in Russell Square. It seems difficult for a woman to get accepted into these poker playing circles, but Victoria persists and before long is mixing with people with strange names and starting to win small amounts of money.

Around this time (the year 2000), the game of poker is being transformed by television, with Late Night Poker on Channel 4 being well known and attracting large audiences. Victoria finds herself playing with Martin Amis, Ricky Gervais and Stephen Fry, and as online poker develops, she finds more opportunities and also sponsorship (gambling with other people's money certainly makes life less stressful!).

The autobiographical sections are interleaved throughout the book with a running account of the tournament which led to Victoria's big win. These sections tend to be a little technical but provide great insight into the calculations you need to make and the sheer wads of experience you need in order to win. While playing poker with friends at home for small stakes may be fun, to play competitively for big money you need an obsessive streak which will keep you at the card tables for most of your spare time.

Victoria is obviously very good at poker, and prepared to spend the time and intelligence to think about her playing strategies. There are some sad stories about lesser people who have a large win and immediately leave the poker tables to lose all they've won on blackjack or roulette. At one point in the book, Victoria is set up on a radio programme to discuss gambling with Gamblers Anonymous and this is a sad affair with neither side communicating effectively.

I wouldn't want this review to appear at all judgemental - this is a very entertaining book and allowed me to learn what motivates poker players and to understand the world they inhabit. One can't help but warm to Victoria, whose remarkable candour makes this a fascinating read. She speaks frankly about her broken-heart when love affairs fail, and also about the resulting depression which affected her for months afterwards.
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on 12 December 2009
Of all the books I have read on poker in the last few months this is the only one that conveys any atmosphere, real feeling or depth. You can explain anything technically, but if someone described kissing the way most books talk about poker you'd never want to try it. This book conveys what it's like to give poker a passionate snog and feel your knees wobble. The prose is a joy to read.

By way of explanation - I'm learning about poker from a starting point of no knowledge whatsoever, hoping to make it into the gaming industry and a friend recommend I read up on Victoria Coren's articles on poker and her website. I was lucky - this book was due out the week after and I yummed it up, cover to cover. Poker aside, it's an honest and moving memoir, as well as being pant wettingly funny in places.

Oh and I start my new job in poker next week. I can say this book was instrumental in helping me understand so much more than the technical. I've snogged poker and I liked it...
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on 28 July 2015
i'v read many poker books but didn't fancy reading this as i'v never really followed vicky coren on the poker tour.But from this point i hope she wins ever tournament she enters.What a refreshing read and what a true person vicky comes across as.She started playing poker when it was taboo for a woman to do so.It tells you about her fight against depression the lose of her father and many other aspects of her life.But what i liked about her is that for all her tournament success around the world and in these times of young internet players with hoodies and sun glasses winning millions she is just as happy playing 25p/ 50p in the back room of a friends house.good luck vicky
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on 30 December 2014
All in - bought this as I have a soft spot for Victoria Coren - not solely due to her poker abilities.
However.
Great Book.
It's an autobiography where poker is allowed to creep in, and then raise it's head, and then bellow 'godzilla-like' across the pages/tournaments/years.
I've walked away as smitten as I was when I picked the book up - but with a great pile of respect in addition (that'll teach me).
Moreover it's quite a lovely, sweet book - a candid and brutally honest account of a life of gambling. No judgements - just the frustrations, the lows & the highs.
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on 6 November 2009
I found this book well-written and very engaging. Even for the non-players out there, you can't help but find yourself drawn into the world of poker, with it's highs and lows, humour and menace. Vicky's is a story of a love, not just for the game, but for the second family it has given her, the places it has taken her, the characters she has met along the way.
There are low points, but then who's life doesn't have one or two?! I am not going to say that the highs outway the lows, but the buzz of poker obviously goes some way to soothing those pains.
Well worth a read!
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on 5 December 2012
Have always been a fan of old VC - who plays with old men and basically gives anyone a shuffle, up the Old Vic, ever since Late Night Poker was broadcast for the first time on channel 4. Inspired me to start playing online when you could have dealers choice games and dealers made up games!!

A favourite of mine was Lamebrain Pete - with a hint of suicide guts thrown in - you had to be awake to spot that one and pi55ed off a lot of people of their virtual chips - LOL!

That was back when everyone was on dial up - so 30 seconds was enough to confuse everyone.

Just want to congratulate Victoria and "Mark" - must be the perfect marriage of geeky intelligence.

I expect a lot of these low reviews are by people who VC has taken money off or beaten at poker. God knows why anyone would complain or even read a book that contains references to poker - if you can read the blurb.

What was most poignant to me was a few sentences that she made in reference to one of her ex boyfriends. Think it was on page 200 and something. Really summed up my feelings to my ex girlfriend - of 5 years - 2 years after.

Stupidly I texted it to her - unsurprisingly I didn't get a response - lol!

Anyway - a great read and finished it in about 3 days on my holiday. Have had Devilfishes on loan for a while now but have been engrossed by Heist - possibly the best true crime book ever written.
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on 5 May 2011
I don't like Poker but I like Victoria Coren so I bought the Kindle version of For Richer, For poorer thinking that I'll only get a couple of chapters in before getting bored. But Damn her and her friendly,chatty, funny and honest tale had got me hooked. I started to care about her friends and laughed at their stories and was genuinely sad when one of her friends died ( oh hush now! That's not a spoiler as I never said who it was)I loved that she just didn't plop the reader into the Poker world of Today but took us back to when she first started and along the way introduced us to Poker champions of their day. She didn't sugar coat the game and make it all sweetness and light, she mentioned the lows as well as the highs and that just made the book all the more honest and as a reader, who know's nothing about Poker, I was grateful for that. And their is a handy wee guide at the back of the book with a list of Poker terms and what they mean. Which isn't all that easy to access on Kindle but useful none the less. I came away understanding a little more of why this Game can pull people in

I still don't like Poker but I like Victoria Coren even more after reading this. So yes go buy it!!!!
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on 22 December 2010
Ms Coren is something of a queen of all trades - a former schoolgirl correspondent for the Daily Telegraph and stand-up comedienne, she tells how she first played cards to hang out with her brothers Giles's cool friends. Clearly a gambler at heart, she learned the hard way that the house always wins at roulette and turned her to attention to poker. The book details the high and lows of her `career' which coincide with the seemingly inexorable rise of poker. Anyone tempted to chuck a few (hundred) pounds at internet poker would be well advised to invest in this book beforehand and you'll realise who your virtual opponents might be. The game remains first and foremost a social event and Victoria amusingly brings to life the motley crew who have kept her company at card tables from seedy London clubs to the ersatz glamour of Vegas.
Readers (like me) who know jack about knaves are strongly advised to start with the appendix which makes the action much easier to follow.
But you don't have to play poker to enjoy this book.
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