Less than an hour ago I watched Victoria Coren Mitchell, who was the first woman to ever win an European Poker Tour when she took down the London stop back in Season 3, win the EPT Sanremo Main Event for €476,100. I’ve covered hundreds of tournaments, and never have I felt compelled to write about it immediately after. This one was different. This one was history.
The atmosphere here in the Casino is absolutely electric. This was not just a big win for Coren, but for poker as a whole. In ten seasons dating back to dating back to 2004 there has never been a player to win two EPT Main Event titles. That meant there were 97 different winners heading into Sanremo. Next week’s Grand Final would have been 99, and then the Season 11 opener in Barcelona would have marked 100. PokerStars no doubt had big plans for that stop (“100 winners in 100 stops”), and while those plans getting disrupted may disappoint their marketing department, they got a massive PR boost this night. Not only will they benefit, but the entire poker world will too.
Imagine if you will that Mats Gavatin, Christophe Benzimra, or Vadzim Kursevich had become the first two-time champion? It’d have been cool, but would you have really cared? I know I wouldn’t have. Instead, it was a member of the Team PokerStars Pro family. Not only that, it was a woman, who happened to overcome being the short stack at the start of the final table. Furthermore, it was a short-stacked woman famous in the United Kingdom for being a writer and presenter (according to Wikipedia she writes weekly columns for The Observer and The Guardian and hosts the BBC Four television quiz show Only Connect) who happens to be married to famous actor and comedian David Mitchell. To top it all off, she has 233K Twitter followers.
I'm not going to say that her win is going to inspire a Moneymaker-like boom, because it's not, but in a time when poker headlines have been dominated by cheating scandals, indictments, and other mudslinging antics, it's nice to see a positive story of this magnitude.
Twitter was going wild when she won. Tomorrow the newspapers in the UK will run with the story. Believe me when I say this win will be celebrated and remembered throughout Europe, and it will help bring new players into the game. This may not be a big story for those in United States, but poker isn’t restricted to one area of the world. I could write a little more on what's transpired tonight, but there's some celebrating to do with everyone in Sanremo!
Side note, I actually interviewed Coren on Day 1 of the tournament, which you can listen to here:
Congratulations to Victoria Coren Mitchell! It was a job well done, and I am honored to have been there. I can’t think of anyone who will do the honor more justice than you.