Victoria Coren Mitchell

victoria-coren-mitchellHammersmith-born Victoria Coren Mitchell is a journalist, broadcaster and professional poker play. Although probably best known to British audiences as the host of the BBC television quiz show ‘Only Connect’, she also has the distinction of being the first woman to win a European Poker Tour (EPT) event and the first player, of either sex, to win more than one EPT Main Event. Her first EPT win, worth £500,000, came in the EPT Main Event at The Poker Room, London in 2006 and her history-making second win, worth €476,100, came in the EPT Main Event at Casino Sanremo, Sanremo in 2014.

Formerly a member of Team PokerStars Pro – although she left in 2014, following the introduction of casino games on PokerStars.com – has total live earnings of over $2.47 million. However, since the end of 2014, she has just one tournament cash, of just $7,580, to her name. In April, 2018, after her first poker tournament for nearly a year, Coren Mitchell initially tweeted that the newly-introduced shot clock ‘bends too much to the impatience of the iPhone generation’, but later tweeted, ‘I take it all back. Get on with it already!’ Tournament poker aside, Coren Mitchell also plays poker recreationally and is a regular at the Victoria Casino on Edgware Road, London.

Denise Coates

Denise-Coates

Denise Coates once described herself as the ‘ultimate gambler’ but, while her story involves stick-or-twist decisions, she was not talking about gambling in the traditional sense. Coates is, of course, the founder and joint chief executive – alongside brother John – of Bet365 which, since its foundation in 2000, has grown to become one of the largest online bookmakers in the world, with a turnover of £2.86 billion in the year to March, 2018.

Unsurprisingly, Coates is a billionaire – in fact, she has a net worth of $4.6 billion, or $3.7 billion, according to ‘Forbes’ magazine – and, in the year to March, 2018, broke her own record for the compensation paid to the chief executive of a British company by paying herself a basic salary of $220 million, plus $45 million in dividend payments.

An econometrics graduate, Coates became managing director of Provincial Racing – a small chain of bricks-and-mortar betting shops owned by her father, Peter – in 1995. However, having bought the Bet365.com domain name in 2000, the transition to online sports betting required as massive cash injection, in the form of an £18 million loan from Royal Bank of Scotland, which required the whole of the existing family business as collateral. Nevertheless, Bet365.com launched the following year and the rest, as they say, is history.

Alice Ivers

poker-aliceAlice Ivers, also known as Alice Duffield, Alice Tubbs or Alice Huckert – she was widowed three times – or by her nickname ‘Poker Alice’, was arguably the most successful female professional gambler in the American Old West. Reputedly born in Sudbury, England in 1851, Ivers moved with her family to the United States in 1865, finally settling in Deadwood, South Dakota.

A gifted mathematician and accomplished card player – she had been taught to play poker by her father as a child – Ivers earned a decent living from playing poker, particularly so after the death of her first husband, Frank Duffield, whom she had married in 1875. She frequently toured the West where, as a beautiful, fashionable woman, with a penchant for black stogie cigars, she stood out from the hoi polloi of the gambling fraternity. Ivers continued to support herself with her poker skills until, in 1910, she opened ‘Poker’s Palace’, a saloon in Fort Meade, South Dakota. Indeed, three years later Ivers was charged with murder after she shot a man dead during a fight on the premises, but was subsequently acquitted on the grounds of self-defence. During her lifetime, Ivers claimed to have won over $250,000, or over $3 million in modern terms.

Vanessa Rousso

Vanessa-Rousso-200x300Vanessa Rousso, known online as ‘Lady Maverick’, is a retired professional poker player who was married to the late Chad Brown, former Bluff Magazine Player of the Year, before their separation in 2012. Born in White Plains, New York, Rousso spent her early childhood in France before returning to Florida, as a ten-year-old, when her parents divorced.

Precociously bright, Rousso started to play tournament poker, online and live, while still a student at Miami School of Law in 2005. She collected her first live earnings, $6,465, for a seventh placed finish in a Bayou Poker Challenge event at Harrah’s New Orleans New Orleans in May that year. The following month, she collected another $2,330 for winning a Palms No Limit Hold’em Summer Poker Series event at Palms, Las Vegas and so embarked upon on a career during which she would accumulate over $3.5 million in total live earnings.

Indeed, Rousso collected her best live cash, €532,500, or $700,160, when winning the European Poker Tour (EPT) European High Roller Championship at Monte Carlo Bay Hotel & Casino in 2009. Instantly recognisable, to fellow players and television viewers alike, by her platinum blonde hair, trucker hat and aviator sunglasses, Rousso formally announced her retirement from poker, to do something ‘meaningful’ with her life, in May 2018.

Annette Obrestad

Annette-Obrestad-1024x738Norwegian poker player Annette Obrestad, who turns 31 in 2019, first came to worldwide attention when, in 2007, on the eve of her nineteenth birthday, she won the World Series of Poker Europe (WSOPE) Main Event at the Empire Casino, London. Her victory not only made her the youngest person, male or female, to win a World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet, but her payout, of $2.01 million, beat the record for the highest prize money paid to a female player for a single event, previously held by Annie Duke.

Otherwise known as ‘The Huntress’ or ‘Annette_15’ – the latter nickname dating from the days when she started playing online freeroll poker tournaments as a 15-year-old – Obrestad has live earnings in excess of $3.94 million. That figure ranks her second on the Norway All Time Money List, behind only Felix Stephenson, and 328th on the All Time Money List. Her WSOP bracelet aside, Obrestad has cashed for six-figure sums on six occasions, including $429,181 for a second-place finish in the European Poker Tour (EPT) Main Event in Dublin, also in 2007. Obrestad no longer plays poker, having lost her passion for the game, but has reinvented herself as a ‘beauty guru’ on YouTube.