For Richer, For Poorer: Confessions of a Player by Victoria Coren

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For Richer, For Poorer: Confessions of a Player by Victoria Coren

Category: Autobiography
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Peter Magee
Reviewed by Peter Magee
Summary: The life and times of poker-playing Victoria Coren makes for a highly-recommended and readable book.
Buy? Yes Borrow? yes
Pages: 352 Date: March 2011
Publisher: Canongate
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1847672933

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Some things are in the blood. For Victoria Coren it was cards. As a child she and brother Giles were taught to play Blackjack by their grandfather. He called it Pontoon but the most valuable lesson was that grandfather was always the dealer and always the winner. Giles played Poker but wasn't really a gambler. Victoria was one of life's risk-takers and she leant to the more adventurous side of her father's family. She was unhappy at school, preferring the company of her brother's straight-talking friends to the bitchy all-girl atmosphere at school. In the intervening twenty years she's won a million dollars, but for her it's never been about the money.

For me the essence of the book is that within the poker community (and despite the fact that there are some seriously dodgy people within it) she's found friendship. There have been highs and lows and Coren is open about them in this intensely personal memoir. The competition in which she won the million dollars – the European Championship – is the theme which runs through the book with each chapter describing her progress until finally there are only two players at the table. It's a neat device to frame the story of her life and works much better than if she'd devoted a chapter to the tournament in strict chronological order which would almost certainly have left the non-poker player adrift.

Talking of which – this isn't a book aimed at poker enthusiasts. It's a book for anyone who enjoys a well-written, entertaining and funny story. If you are interested in poker, there's plenty about the characters who play the game, the background and the setting to keep your interest well and truly alive. The stories are told with candour and honesty, but above all, with wit.

I read the book over a couple of very relaxing days, glad that I had no pressing reason to do anything else. I'm a regular reader of Victoria Coren's column in The Observer and it invariably brightens a Sunday morning but there's just so much more to enjoy in the book. I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

If this book appeals then you might enjoy Prediction: How to See and Shape the Future with Game Theory by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita with its entertaining look at a complex subject.

Buy For Richer, For Poorer: Confessions of a Player by Victoria Coren at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy For Richer, For Poorer: Confessions of a Player by Victoria Coren at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy For Richer, For Poorer: Confessions of a Player by Victoria Coren at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy For Richer, For Poorer: Confessions of a Player by Victoria Coren at Amazon.co.uk.


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