How to Be Bohemian. Victoria Coren Mitchell. Copyright: BBC.

Heresy

BBC Radio 4 panel show challenging received opinions. 65 episodes (pilot + 11 series), 2003 - 2019. Stars David Baddiel and Victoria Coren Mitchell.

How to Be Bohemian. Victoria Coren Mitchell. Copyright: BBC.

Victoria Coren Mitchell - Comedy Host... and Poker Star

"My inspiration has always been Jeanne Calment, a Frenchwoman who drank and smoked every day and died a few years ago at the age of 122. When asked the secret of her longevity, she replied: 'I laugh a lot.' Well, you would, wouldn't you?" - Victoria Coren Mitchell

Victoria Coren Mitchell is back presenting a new series of the panel game Heresy on Radio 4 at the moment (Wednesdays at 6:30pm, or catch-up on iPlayer).

In the show - which aims to challenge received opinions in a comedic way - the host demonstrates her razor sharp wit and quick thinking. You may not be aware, but these skills she has also used in poker to win big...

Earlier this month the Women in Poker Hall of Fame announced their 2016 finalists and a new change in their voting process. This year fans get to help pick the winner. There are seven finalists currently running for the 2016 title: Debbie Burkhead, Many Glogow, Karina Jett, Shirley Rosario, Esther Rossi, Jennifer Tilly and - you guessed it - Victoria Coren Mitchell.

While some people have heard of Coren Mitchell's love affair with poker, those who don't follow gambling closely almost certainly won't realise just how successful she has been in the game.

Background

Victoria Coren Mitchell was born and raised in London, and comes from a family of gifted writers. Her father was journalist and humorist Alan Coren, perhaps best known to comedy fans for his residency on The News Quiz. His well-known quotes include: "Television is more interesting than people. If it were not, we would have people standing in the corners of our rooms."

So it's perhaps no wonder Victoria's own sense of the satirical is so sharp. She writes a witty weekly column for The Guardian and The Observer as well as guest columns for GQ, The Telegraph and several other periodicals and magazines. She has also been hosting BBC television quiz show Only Connect since 2008, and has made guest appearances on several other shows too.

Her book Once More, with Feeling was published in 2003, and is a surprisingly heartwarming account of her and co-author Charlie Skelton's attempts to produce an adult film. They set off on this task after having reviewed a multitude of films for the Erotic Review and decided they were all "total trash" and they could do a much better job.

Poker Queen

Victoria Coren Mitchell.

Victoria's poker memoir, For Richer, For Poorer: A Love Affair With Poker, details her rise in the world of poker to becoming the first and only two-time winner of the European Poker Tour. Although she states, "Poker is a strange game because it's face-to-face combat and we are trying to knock each other out and take each other's money, but at the same time we are all friends", she also professes feeling real profound love for the game, whether she ends up a winner or loser.

While she began playing poker primarily for fun, she has now accrued almost $2.5 million in lifetime tournament winnings. More of an amateur at first, her first real "invitation to the ball" came in 2006 from London's European Poker Tour game, where she became the first woman ever to win an event in the EPT. Her second win was in 2014, making her the first person of any gender to ever win the EPT twice - quite a feat!

The European Poker Tour has excited the world for 12 seasons, with qualifications for Season 13 beginning already. It is considered the richest poker tour in the world with exciting destinations like Barcelona and Malta on the schedule, and the grand finale held in Monte Carlo. In 2011, online poker room PokerStars took on sole sponsorship and added more exciting games, destinations and prize pools. Mitchell recently competed in the 2016 EPT tournament in Monte Carlo, and tweeted her way through to day 2, when she eventually lost with Jacks versus Ace/King.

While her heart is in playing the game, Victoria has also presented Late Night Poker and The Poker Nations Cup for Channel 4, and World Poker Tour for ITV2. She has also been a witty commentator for The Monte Carlo EPT, Grosvenor UK Poker Tour, Ultimate Poker Challenge and William Hill Grand Prix 2.

A Comedy Powerhouse

Image shows from L to R: Victoria Coren Mitchell, David Mitchell.

In recent years, she has added marriage and motherhood to her list of satirical subjects. Marriage to comedy genius David Mitchell in 2012 brought an onslaught of self-deprecating interviews and first person articles. She recalls a bridesmaid dragging her into a bridal shop to show her all of the ridiculous accouterments she was rejecting and then "six weeks later, I'm a complete bridezilla shouting, 'I want the tiara and a veil and a huge train! And I might decide to throw rose petals over myself...'"

More recently she spoke out that, while she is no James Bond, she could possibly make a better spy than the outdated high-classed 'Greek god' currently playing James Bond.

However, she also failed miserably and hilariously on The Great British Bake Off, when she attempted making Bloody Mary muffins for the show's host, Mary Berry.

While it is doubtful she will be either the next Betty Crocker or the leader of MI6, Victoria Coren Mitchell looks set to continue to juggle and manage her various careers with stupifying cleverness, and win lots more money in the process. She states, "Poker is fun. Any monkey can present a TV show. Writing is hard and I don't do much of it, but a writer is what I strive to be."

Published: Thursday 2nd June 2016