Take a step back in time to September 2006, when the UK’s budding poker pro, Victoria Coren, won the EPT Main Event in London. With around $100k in live tournament cashes dating back to 1999, the EPT Title and £500k (USD $941k) prize catapulted the lovely Ms. Coren’s live career earnings to well over $1 million USD. Instant stardom ensued, and PokerStars was quick to swoop in, signing a sponsorship deal with the exalted lady of poker in 2007. Now 7 years later, Mrs. Coren Mitchell (her new married name, having wed actor/comedian David Mitchell in 2013) has chosen to sever that contract on personal moral grounds.
PokerStars has undergone a lot of changes in the last year, including an acquisition and subsequent transfer of ownership of the parent company, Rational Group, to Canadian-based Amaya Gaming. A number of PokerStars Pros disappeared from the team’s gallery shortly after, including South American pros Humberto Brenes of Costa Rica, Jose ‘Nacho’ Barbero of Argentina and Angel Guillen of Mexico. Alex Krevchanko of Russia, Marcel ‘The Flying Dutchman’ Luske of the Netherlands and even 2009 WSOP Champ Joe Cada of the United States were also cut from the roster.
According to Vicky Coren Mitchell, none of those occurrences had anything to do with her departure from Team PokerStars. Her disassociation was a personal choice based on moralistic values surrounding the introduction of PokerStars Casino. Coren Mitchell said that she does not want her endorsement linked to online casino gambling; something she believes can be perilous to “vulnerable” players.
“Poker is the game I love,” explained the UK poker pro, “poker is what I signed up to promote. The question I’m probably asked most often in interviews is about the danger of addiction, going skint and so on. I’m always careful to explain the difference between the essentially fair nature of poker, where we all take each other on with the same basic chance…”
Coren Mitchell’s view of online casino gambling is far different, however. She described casino games as having “unfavorable odds”, saying they “can be (especially online) so dangerous for the vulnerable or desperate.”
Although Vicky, ranked the 9th highest winning female poker player in the world with $2,461,988, does not want to be associated with the promotion of online casino games, her view towards he owrld’s largest poker site has not faltered. She made it clear that she has the utmost respect for PokerStars and its decision to extend its iGaming menu to include blackjack, roulette and eventually other casino style gambling. Vicky Coren Mitchell further explained that her departure from the Pro Team will not stop her from participating in major live events sponsored by PokerStars, such as the EPT and UKIPT.
The UK poker pro did not hesitate to add that she still considers PokerStars “the best place to play online poker.” As for her decision to leave the Team PokerStars roster, Coren Mitchell called it, “a very sad and regretful day.”
Eric Hollreiser, Head of Corporate Communications for the world’s largest online poker room, commented on her choice. “We respect Victoria Coren’s decision to leave Team PokerStars Pro following our recent announcement to add casino games. We’re sad to see Vicky go and remain thankful for her support of the game and the company and wish her success in poker and in life.”