Victoria Coren Writes History: The First Two-Time EPT Champion

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This evening history was made in Sanremo when Victoria Coren won the EPT Sanremo Main Event and thus became the first two-time EPT champion.

When European Poker Tour was launched 10 seasons ago, nobody could have imagined that it would take 98 Main Events before we could crown a double champion. Many have been close, among them Mick “Timex” McDonald, who was runner-up at the PCA back in January.

But it was Victoria Coren Mitchell who finally sealed the deal, eight years after she won her first EPT Main Event in London. At that point she was the first woman to win an EPT Championship, so Vicky Coren is no stranger to writing history! How great this is for poker can not be exaggerated. Victoria Coren is a very well-known figure both on and away from the felt. Besides playing poker she hosts the popular quiz show Only Connects on BBC Four as well as being a writer and film director. In 2009 she released her poker memoir For Richer, For Poorer: A Love Affair with Poker which can be highly recommended. Coren has been a columnist at The Guardian and now writes columns for The Observer on a weekly basis. And let’s not forget that she last year married the well-known actor and comedian David Mitchell.

The fact that Coren has one foot in mainstream popular culture and another in the poker world made her an extremely popular winner. Thousands of people sweated her on the live stream from the final table and on Twitter, where she posted updates to her fans. And it was all the people following her that are not poker players she was most afraid to disappoint, she told in interview on PokerStars Blog after her victory:

“People in poker know it’s about showing a profit. The minute I won €8,000 it was a good trip. But tens of thousands of people (on Twitter) got behind me. I thought I’d be happy with sixth, but also thought they’d be disappointed. I kept calling my husband during the breaks asking, ‘Is sixth place all right? Fifth place?'”

Entering a final table as the absolute short stack and to end up winning the event is very very difficult. But Coren, who had played very patiently the previous days and also had the guts, when needed, to shove over early raises from Westmorland and especially Raul Mestre, continued her strategy on the final table. Although Vicky Coren also plays online her long experience as a live player was something she could fully profit from today. Her timing, her ability to read the other players and to pick the right spots were the main factors behind Coren’s win. Not to forget the luck and run-good you also need to have on your side to win a big tournament.

From eight and down to five

On the earlier levels of the final table Vicky Coren stayed patient. Se saw when Emmanuel Pariset was knocked out in 8th place by local hero Andrea Benelli, which gave Benelli the chip lead.

Coren had a nice double up, when she shoved over Andreas Goeller’s raise from UTG. Goeller called and his pair of sevens was crushed by Coren’s pair of kings. Coren now had a stack of 1,250,000 (25 bb). In the next hand she played, she once again tangled with Goeller. Goeller opened to 110,000 from the button with and Coren made the call with in the big blind. The flop came and Coren checked to Goeller, who made a c-bet of 120,000. Coren checked-raised to 325,000 and Goeller folded.

In her next hand Coren opened for 110,000 in the hijack. Giacomo Fundaro in the small blind made a small three-bet to 235,000 with .  But Coren wanted it otherwise and four-bet to 500,000. Fundaro folded and Coren took down the 820,000 pot.

At that time Andrija Martic from Croatia was getting very short and he shoved all in for his last 570,000 with and was called by Andrea Benelli with in the big blind. Unfortunately for the Croatian Benelli hit a flush on the river, and Martic was out in 7th place.

The next to go was Italian Bruno Stefanelli in 6th place, when his AJ could not beat the jacks of Jordan Westmorland. Soon after it was Andreas Goeller’s turn to hit the rail, when he flopped middle pair and went all in. Westmorland who had a lot of outs called and made trips on the turn and Goeller was out of the tournament in 5th place.

From four and down to heads-up play

With only four players left Giacomo Fundaro opened with . Andrea Benelli three-bet with and Coren decided to four-bet shove with . Fundaro folded and Benelli ended up folding as well even though he was getting a good price for calling.

At this point of the tournament Benelli could not get anything going. From being a big chip leader at the earlier stages of the final table and at one point having more than double the chips of Jordan Westmorland in second, Benelli began to lose pot after pot to Westmorland. When Benelli had top pair Westmorland flopped a flush. When he had pocket queens Westmorland rivered a straight. And soon it was Westmorland who had a massive chip lead, while Benelli had fallen down to fourth place.

Vicky Coren took some of Westmorland’s chips when she shoved all in with AK and was called by Westmorland who tabled AQ. Coren’s hand held up and she secured a much need double up.

Soon it was all over for Benelli. Fundaro open with QT from the small blind and Benelli shoved with KT in the big blind. Fundaro made the call and spiked a queen on the flop to send Benelli home in 4th place.

At this point Westmorland had around 8,500,000 in chips, Fundaro nearly 5,000,000 and Vicky Coren a little over 3,000,000. When Fundaro hit trips and Westmorland hero called with ace high, Fundaro closed in on the gap between him and Westmorland. The chip lead went back and forth between Fundaro and Westmorland, while Coren was able to take down a couple of nice pots. In one hand she squeezed from the big blind with and had Westmorland fold and Fundaro . In another hand she flopped trips and was now for the first time second in chips at the final table.

But the most dramatic hand of the final table was yet to come, and it happened when Westmorland raised from the button to 200,000 with and Coren three-bet to 500,000 from the big blind with . Westmorland made the call, and they both saw a flop of . It’s not hard to imagine how they both must have felt very excited with the flop where they both made trips. Coren decided to trap and checked the flop. Westmorland then bet 550,000 and got check-raised by Coren to 1,200,000. Westmorland made the call. The turn card was the and both players checked. The river card was the and Coren now led out with a bet of 1,500,000. Westmorland shoved all in and Coren thought for a while before calling with the best hand.

The hand saw Westmorland go from chip leader to short stack as he had only eight big blinds left, while Coren had massive 11,060,000 in front of her. Soon after it was over and out for the sympathetic American pro, who had played great and with seemingly no flaws the entire tournament. Westmorland collected €213,850 for his effort.

Heads-up for the title

When heads-up play began Vicky Coren had almost a 3-1 chip lead over Giacomo Fundaro. The atmosphere was about to explode. Could Victoria Coren Mitchell write poker history? On Twitter she seemed pleasantly surprised over making it so far:

As all eyes were on the final two players it did not take long for Coren to make the dream come true. In the final hand Coren raised on the button to 260,000 with . Giacomo Fundaro woke up with and he elected just to call. The flop came and Fundaro checked. Little did he know that Coren had hit two pairs, so when she bet 350,000, he check-raised to 825,000. Coren called. The turn card was the and Fundaro checked again. Coren bet 1,000,000 and Fundaro now moved all in. Coren called and now had to fade 12 outs – aces, kings, tens and sevens. When the river card was the , Coren was the winner of EPT Sanremo and the first two-time EPT Champion. “You played very well, congratulations,” Fundaro said to the overwhelmed winner, who on Twitter exclaimed:

Fundaro took home €298,700 for his second place finish, while Coren picked up €476,100. What an amazing ride it has been. Congrats to the champion.

If you didn’t have the opportunity to watch the final table or you want to see some of the highlights again, be sure to watch the video which also include a great winner interview by Joe Stapleton.

Photo: Neil Stoddard, PokerStars Blog

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