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For Richer, for Poorer: A Love Affair with Poker

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  604 ratings  ·  53 reviews
In September 2006, Victoria Coren won the European Poker Championship, and with it a cool one million dollars. Overnight, she became one of the world's most famous players. But how did she do it?
In For Richer, For Poorer, Victoria Coren's long-awaited poker memoir, she answers this question. It is an intensely honest story of twenty years of obsession, of highs and lows,
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Paperback, 346 pages
Published March 3rd 2011 by Canongate Books Ltd (first published July 5th 2009)
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Christine Blachford
I really don’t know anything about poker, but I was keen to read this after realising just how fabulous Ms Coren is. Although it is all about the game, it’s not hard to read. Even when going into details about particular hands, you only have to have a basic grasp of deal, raise, and fold, which is the extent of my knowledge. It’s a tale of how one person can do what they love and do it well, and a chronicle of how poker has grown and changed but still retains it’s essence. The most important lin ...more
Lawrence Leporte
Let's face it, there are a lot of rubbish poker books out there. I've wasted hard-won cash on some real stinkers, and have come to view certain types of titles with a degree of caution. Poker players prone to hyperbole? Perish the thought.

The promise of 'secrets' or a 'system' is a red flag (although 'super-system' is okay provided it's written by Doyle Brunson). So too is the suggestion that you can 'earn a living' or somehow 'beat the odds' (each being, as far as I'm concerned, the functional
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Holly Cruise
I don't really know how poker works, but not knowing my rivers from my big blinds didn't stop me from enjoying this book. I guess that's because it's one of those trick books, which pretends it's about one thing (poker) but is actually about another (geeky, sort-of-daddy's-girl wants to find somewhere where she belongs and does so in an unlikely place). As a geeky, sort-of-daddy's-girl myself, I completely understand.

The internal monologues covering Coren's hands in her triumphant 2006 EPT title
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Simon
I bought this on Amazon for £1 when they were having a Kindle ebook sale. All I had to do was wait until I eventually bought a Kindle. And when I did this was my first book. And what a book!

Victoria Coren, from the crazily talented Coren family, has many strings to her bow. She's hosted Heresy on Radio 4, Only Connect on BBC4, writes for the Guardian and as she's best known in the context of this book, a Poker Champion.

In For Richer, For Poorer, Coren charts her love affair with poker from an ea
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Sonia
As soon as I saw Victoria Coren talking about her book on Twitter, I knew that I was going to have to read it. Witty, intelligent, dead cute and sister of the equally entertaining although more sweary Giles, she really is my OH's celebrity crush, which is why we had to watch Only Connect religiously when it was on.

So, not only does Coren have all that going for her, she is also ‘a bit naughty’ because she has immersed herself in the ‘seedy’ world of poker – except she doesn’t just dabble, she wa
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Tyler Jones
I have read a lot of poker books and until now I have been most unsatisfied with the "personal memoir" style of poker book. Poker players are a slippery bunch and getting one to truly open up in a book seems to be asking the impossible. As a result there are dozens of biographies of poker personalities that are utterly forgettable. Victoria Coren's recent book, "For Richer, For Poorer" blows the doors off any other poker biography on the market. Coren is intelligent, eloquent and humorous, and m ...more
Jan
I like Victoria Coren when I see her on the telly. I follow her on twitter because she's witty and clever but still seems down to earth. So, even though I know nothing about poker, I thought I'd give her poker autobiography a go. It's a mixture of "how I fell in love with poker and the things that were going on in my life" and "how I became the first woman to win the European Poker Tour", with the autobiographical stuff making up the bulk of each chapter and then an analysis of that tournament w ...more
Alan Draycott
A very, very good memoir. Superbly structured, with Coren's final table big win scattered through the book as she tells the story of a privately educated outsider deep within the world of poker. The poker talk is excellent, the sickness of gambling, the attraction, the emptiness are all beautifully and amusingly told. When I read the book I had a nagging doubt that an "English rose" like Coren would never fall into this lifestyle. I also thought no English rose would discuss her broken hearts wi ...more
Merecraft
Partly a biography, partly a treatise on modern poker, and partly the story of how Victoria Coren became the first female million-dollar-winner of the European Poker Tour (she's since gone on to win it a second time), this is one of the most readable books about a complex subject I've ever read.

Part of that is the chatty, witty writing style and, whilst it doesn't hold your hand in explaining the exotic-sounding poker terms and expressions, the book is still completely clear. This is because it
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Avril
I should have guessed that the book would be predominantly about poker which does not interest me, I am however interested in Victoria Coren. I wanted to know why she got into gambling and she is very open about her reasons which include a low self-esteem and a family history which included a number of gamblers, it appeared to be in her blood. However, although the book was very well written with a lovely, wry sense of humour and witty turn of praise, there were too many hands of cards described ...more
thom
I'd always quite liked the idea of this book. I know little about poker, but I find it intriguing, and I've enjoyed Victoria Coren's writing in the past. Honestly, though, I never expected to enjoy this as much as I did. Her absolute love of the game and its history comes through on every page.

It covers an interesting time for poker, since as the book starts it's still a game kept broadly within the confines of casinos, the odd seedy club and a few home games, but by the end of the book, it's o
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Karen
I liked this book, despite the occasional detailed descriptions of poker games that went right over my head. I liked the fact that Coren is mostly drawn to the game because it represents (or represented) an underworld full of strange, damaged, fragile people.

Although Coren is down to earth and funny, and passionate about and excited by poker, the book also explores the sadness and nostalgia that it triggers. These were probably my favourite bits. She describes a glorious fortnight in Vegas as f
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SilverRaindrops
Update (May 08, 2014)

Having reread the entire book now (I've only done highlighted re-reading before), I felt like a few additions to my review were in order.

It is still true that this book is very well written, and should be enjoyable for you if you're the least bit interested in either its subject or its author. What I didn't realize at the time though was how much this book helped me and how much I actually took from it.
I'll just list a few of my highlights (because it feels wrong to get too
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Steve Mitchell
Victoria Coren's book goes straight on to my must read list! The story of her love affair with poker just happens to coincide with the rise in popularity of the game from smoke filled back rooms to Internet overload and celebrity television shows with championship games on the sports channels. I remember coming home from the pub and switching on the television when Late Night Poker was first broadcast; it really should not have worked but it was just so addictive viewing. I do not really want to ...more
Zach Ebben
Many successful poker players have tried their hand at writing, but I've yet to find another who writes with the elegance of Victoria Coren. Her memoir is centered around her lifelong relationship with poker, but it's much more love story than strategy guide. This book will make you feel as though Victoria could be your closest friend, if your closest friend had made over a million dollars playing poker and was a world class writer.
Thermalsatsuma
From early games where she was fleeced by her elder brother, to the swankiest of French casinos via the dazzling lights of Vegas and games in dodgy boozers before coming home to the comforting security of Tuesday games at The Vic, Victoria Coren has mapped out her life in poker. It is a looking glass world, inhabited by characters going by names like Devilfish, J.Q. and The Elegance, who bandy words like big blinds, buttons and flops and are always looking for the turn of the final river card th ...more
Alice Furse
Best poker book I've ever read - even if you didn't know much about the game it would still be entertaining. Love how she describes it as her love affair with the game, as I've always thought there's something very romantic about card games. The feeling of being intimidated by casinos but wanting to be a part of them is something that most gamblers feel to begin with, but few poker memoirs admit it! A cracking read.
Muriel
Who is Victoria Coren ? A young lady who wrote an amazing book about Poker ? Not only. Indeed she is a really good writer. But in the same time she is a member of Team Pokerstars Pro! Hence she knows what she’s talking about...

This book can be read without any knowledge of the game (you can find the rules in the last pages) but would be much more appreciated by poker players, or at least people who know how to play. It tells the story of a kid who grew up with the game, it tells a love story bet
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Sarah
I've always been a bit of a gambler (not a hugely successful one, but enthusiastic - up to my preset financial limit, of course) and have always wanted to learn to play poker.

I've also been a fan of Victoria Coren for a long time, and when I discovered her poker credentials, and that she'd written this book, I knew I had to buy it.

And I'm glad I did. I love this book. Coren writes entertainingly about her life in poker (though there's rather too much use of the historical present for my taste) a
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Steven
At first I wasn't sure if I was really going to get much out of this book, because I know absolutely nothing about poker, and in the beginning, Victoria Coren doesn't really make allowances for beginners in that field. However, this turned out to be the right approach: I learned far more about poker from this immersion technique than I suspect I would've done from gentle hand-holding. More to the point, this is so much more than just a poker book: while Coren does a brilliant job of capturing th ...more
Claire Jones
Brilliantly atmospheric & heartfelt, filled with wonderful characters. Still can't say I understand the poker technicalities, but she makes it all sound darn exciting ;-)
Elliot
Moving in places, especially the stuff about her dad. I didn't realise how deep into the poker she was, I just thought it was a sideline to her other stuff when it turns out its the other way round ;)
Jane
Really well written and interesting book. But I still have no bloody clue about poker!!!
Tim
A terrific book about becoming a poker player (and she's a good one, a winner of a European Poker Tour event in London for a million pounds--or dollars?). Coren is a wonderful writer (her poker column in one of the London newspapers is excellent), and she captures the slightly seedy/illicit appeal of the game. I feel I should use a poker-related ranking system instead of stars; if Al Alvarez's book "The Biggest Game in Town" is a royal flush, "For Richer, For Poorer" is at least a full house (AA ...more
Domen Kolsek
I really love this book. Not just because it's the story of the first female EPT champion, but the way Vicky portrays the world surrounding the game makes me wish I was around before poker became so popular. The story is full of emotion and that gives it the essence other poker books lack. The ups and downs of living the life of a "degenerate" gambler, love, grief, happiness and despair. All is there and all is true. I definitely recommend this book to everyone. Non-players and players alike.
Evie Woolmore
I didn't know a thing about poker before I started this, but I like Victoria Coren's writing in the Guardian and I hoped she would write with intelligence and humour. Add to that a wicked eye for observation and a truthful eye too. A good read. There is something upside down about her world by the end of the book, night replacing day, which adds to the sense that she has narrated us on a journey from which we might come back, but she surely will continue to follow.
Phillip
A compelling look at the world of poker, through the eyes of journalist and broadcaster Victoria Coren. She details how she became hooked on the game from her early days playing for small stakes in smoke filled back rooms of pubs and clubs, right up to becoming the European champion. She has an uncanny knack of bringing to life the charachters that she has met through the years and the anecdotes are interesting, funny, and sometimes sorrowful.
Eddy
It was okay. I didn't really have any great expectation and I guess after finishing it I can see why. I didn't not enjoy it, but it didn't hit the spot either. I enjoyed the poker hand analyses, and thought that those were quite valuable. A couple of times the writing went way over my head. Maybe its because I'm not from the same country or maybe its because I'm stupid, but overall for me the book was average.
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Victoria Elizabeth Coren is an English writer, presenter and professional poker player. Coren writes weekly columns for The Observer and The Guardian newspapers and hosts the BBC Four television quiz show Only Connect.
More about Victoria Coren...
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“And as we walk back down the street, me gingerly clutching what at this point constitutes my entire collection, my father says, ‘One day, when you’re all grown up and I’m not here any more, you’ll remember the sunny day we went to the market together and bought a boat.’ My throat feels tight because, as soon as he says it, I am already there. Standing on another street, without my father, trying to get back. And yet I’m here, with him. So I try to soak up every aspect of the moment, to help me get back when I need to. I feel the weight of the chunky parcel under my arm, and the warmth of the sun, and my father’s hand in mine. I smell the flowers with their sharp undertang of cheap hot dog, and taste the slick of toffee on my teeth, and hear the chattering hagglers. I feel the joy of an adventurous Saturday with my father and no school, and I feel the sadness of looking back when it is all gone. When he is gone.” 3 likes
“Poker is a shifty game played by shifty characters. Outside the two official card rooms in London, most games take place in illegal spielers with heavy rake money. Debts and revenges are rife, names are changed, multiple passports are not unheard of. The majority of regular players have no interest in advertising their lifestyle, their whereabouts or even their existence to tax inspectors, thieves, neighbours, creditors or old enemies. Television? You’d have to be a complete ice cream.” 1 likes
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