This season’s European Poker Tour has been filled with all the usual suspects and many new faces from the major international poker circuit. In London in October, one of these big names was not only playing in an event she once won, but also launching her brand new book For Richer For Poorer . Card Player caught up with Vicky Coren as the tour was wrapping up to move on to its next destination, Prague. In part I of this interview she speaks candidly about being both a writer and a player.Rebecca McAdam: First off, for those who haven’t read your book yet, what is it all about?Victoria Coren: Well it’s basically the story of my life in poker. It’s lots of anecdotes about people I’ve played with, and funny things they have said and done. It’s a pretty personal confessional about the weird time I’ve had travelling around and playing in funny locations. It also tells the story of my EPT win, as any book has to if you’ve won a big tournament it goes through all those hands and says what happens there, but mostly it’s my vision of what the poker world has been like since I’ve been playing in it, and I hope it’s quite funny, and a bit sad in places. It’s what I wanted it to be.RM: What made you want to write a book?VC: Well I had a lot of publishers asking me for years to write a poker book and I didn’t want to do it because I thought if I’m going to write a poker book it’s going to have to be super honest, I wasn’t interested in some kind of glossy, everything’s-great-there’s-no-downside book, and hiding all the personal stuff, it would have to be a really revealing personal book. I avoided it for a long time, and this is a bit of a gloomy answer, but my Dad got a terminal illness and I thought, “You know what? I actually want a project that’s going to be really intense and personal. I’m going to have lots of personal things to say and I’m going to need something to get lost in” and it just felt like it does in a poker tournament sometimes when the fates conspire to tell you something’s the right thing to do and it just felt like the right moment to write it.RM: Did you discover anything about yourself or your game when you were writing it?VC: It was interesting going back over the way I used to play and thinking how differently I play now, and how differently I feel about everything. I just used to be scared of everything, I was scared of the other players, I was scared to play a hand, I was scared of the TV cameras, it was just fear all the time, and I quite enjoyed revisiting that time now I’m not scared anymore. I’m probably not scared enough now. It’s not that I learned anything new, I just revisited things I’d forgotten and was amused to look at the journey as a whole.I hoped that writing a book would tell me how come I still play poker all the time and I haven’t got bored of it and given up and I haven’t got married and had kids, and I haven’t done any of the things I thought I’d do as a child, I just play poker all the time. I thought it would tell me why that is, and it sort of does but there’s a lot of answers, it’s not just one thing, there’s a lot of reasons and I understand them better now.RM: What would be the main reason?VC: The main reason obviously is it’s such a brilliant game, but I came to a sort of conclusion that it is a way of avoiding some of the harsh realities of life but that’s not a bad thing, over the course of the book I forgave myself for it. I thought poker is so enthralling and so involving that while you’re playing you can forget about everything else, you can forget what happened outside, what happens in the day, what normal life is like, about sad things and heart break. But the downside is you might forget about responsibilities and ambitions. You might not get around to doing all the things you wanted to do. But on balance, I decided it was a blessing to have something you can escape to, and it’s ok to give into it.RM: Would you say you’re most of all a journalist or a writer behind everything or would you call yourself a poker player?VC: I don’t know, that question gets harder and harder every year. If somebody asks me what do I do for a living, I’ll say I’m a writer even though I make more money from playing poker than writing. I’ll say I’m a writer because I think I’m really defining poker as a hobby, I think it’s healthier that way, even if you play every day. I play on poker hours several hours a week, I play live at the casino at least two nights, I travel several times a year and play all the time but I still think to define it in my mind as a hobby that I enjoy rather than a job I have to do makes for better happiness.Part two of this interview can be read at CardPlayer.com over the next few days.
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