Victoria Coren Mitchell has resigned from her position as a sponsored member of PokerStars Team Pro, in the wake of their announcement to offer online casino games on the site.
“On Friday night, PokerStars.com announced that it would be rolling out online casino gaming alongside its Internet poker. As a result, on Saturday morning, I terminated my endorsement contract with them.”
Those are the words of Victoria Coren Mitchell. The only player to win two European Poker Tour (EPT) Main Event titles, one of only three players to be nominated for three 2014 British Poker Awards; successful author, TV broadcaster/host, and for the past seven years, a prominent member of Team PokerStars Pro.
As the axe started to fall onto the necks of PokerStars Team Pro’s there were a few players I felt would somehow manage to avoid that fate. Daniel Negreanu was one of them, Liv Boeree another, and then you had Victoria Coren Mitchell. All three of them provide a different type of value than the rest. They are all special in their own unique ways.
When you are in the presence of Vicky you are immediately aware of her strength. She exudes confidence, and so, for me at least, this decision doesn’t come as a surprise. She is one of the few UK poker players who are adored by a side of the British public who wouldn’t know a flush from a thrush. She has earned this through her hard work, dedication to her art, and a very purposeful direction.
Anyone who has read ‘For Richer For Poorer’ will know that Vicky has spent her fair share of time in the land-based casinos. If I remember rightly, during her early days in poker, she was quite fond of the wheel. She will be acutely aware of the effect poker, and casino games, will have on the addictive mind of the men and women of the world. She obviously believes that the online casino business is a difficult area for addictive personalities to navigate their way through. I have to agree with her.
Hopefully, Vicky’s decision can be a source of inspiration for others to follow suit. Dan Colman recently called Phil Hellmuth a ‘whore’, a ‘cancer’, and a ‘charlatan’, in part because of his reluctance to leave Ultimate Bet (UB) sooner than he did. Lock Poker pros have also been tarnished with that same shitty brush.
As Punch always says: “That’s the way to do it!”
“It’s not anti-casino either; I spent a lot of time in casinos, and I have been known to indulge in live table gaming. But I cannot professionally and publicly endorse it, even passively by silence with my name still over the shop.” Vicky wrote.
I have deliberately highlighted the last sentence in bold because this is what too many professional poker players do. Their silence is their excuse. Their ignorance is their lie. Vicky has shown the poker world that you don’t need to be a man to have a pair of balls. You could argue that she is in a sound financial position, and losing the PokerStars dough won’t change her lifestyle drastically. This eludes the point.
Vicky is a fiercely independent woman. It’s one of the key reasons she won two EPT titles and managed to make a profit from playing one of the toughest games/sports in the world. If you think that’s an exaggeration then go ahead and try it. The world is full of professional poker players – but finding those in profit? That’s a different kettle of fish.
The decision to leave would have been a tough one for her. I love the way she took a poker approach to her decision. She went with her gut feel and she didn’t allow indecision to creep in. Gut feel, decision – bish, bash bosh.
“I will watch from the outside to see what the new site looks like, how safe and responsible it seems, how the advertising feels and the direction of the company takes.” Vicky wrote.
It’s a testing time for PokerStars…perhaps the most testing time since they were born, and the decision of one of their pillars of strength to walk away won’t do anything to help ease that situation.
We are all watching.
We are all wondering.
And as usual I am left asking the same old question.