Donald MacInnes: Victoria saved me from puggies and penury

In The Red

During my final year at college, I developed a habit of playing pub fruit machines. Or "puggies", as they are called back home.

For three months in my senior year, I spent every lunchtime throwing coins into whichever flashing, bleeping box was nearest to the campus. Thankfully, even though I lost a few hundred quid, something pulled me back before I fell over the edge into the abyss of hardcore penury. Maybe it was Presbyterian guilt.

This close shave coloured my lack of financial derring-do in the years to come. In fact, the only form of gambling which ever came close to seducing me was poker. And again I was pulled back from a potentially damaging fondness for the cards and the green beize by an external force: this time she was a celebrity.

Back in 2001, I wrote freelance features for a magazine called Mondo. One day, the editor called me in and said I was to go to Puerto Banus in Spain to play in a poker tournament on some tycoon's yacht. "But I don't play poker," I said. He snorted. "You'll do fine. We'll give you a few quid to bet with."

I thus found myself on said vessel, sitting terrified at a poker table with some of the top professional players in the world. To my right was Victoria Coren, then a simple journalist and aspiring card sharp; now obviously far more famous for hosting BBC Four's Only Connect and double-barrelling her name to Coren-Mitchell after marrying the Would I Lie To You star. David, or something, I think his name is.

Truth be told, I had a big crush on Victoria back then and, as the first hand was being dealt, I was determined to impress her with my skills. Not having a clue what I was doing, all I could do was go Joe Hollywood, so after examining my cards, I bet my entire pile of chips on a full house – not a bad hand.

With a flicker of a smile, Coren laid down a straight flush, blowing me clean out of the water and the game.

I crawled back to London, having lost both my chance with Victoria and all of the money I had been advanced for the game. Well, at least any lingering desire to gamble my life away had been quelled.

For that, I thank you, Victoria. Pity we didn't connect. Although I'm happy for your success.

Would I lie to you?

Twitter.com/DonaldAMacInnes

d.macinnes@independent.co.uk

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk

Finacial products from our partners
Property search
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Ashdown Group: HR, Payroll & Benefits Officer - Altrincham - up to £24,000.

    £18000 - £24000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR, Payroll & Benefits Of...

    Ashdown Group: Learning and Development Programme Manager

    £35000 - £38000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...

    Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

    £16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A position has arisen within th...

    Ashdown Group: Development Manager - Rickmansworth - £55k +15% bonus

    £50000 - £63000 per annum + excellent benefits : Ashdown Group: IT Manager / D...

    Day In a Page

    The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

    The saffron censorship that governs India

    Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
    Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

    How did fandom get so dark?

    Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
    The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
    The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

    Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

    Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
    Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

    Disney's mega money-making formula

    'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
    Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

    Lobster has gone mainstream

    Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
    Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

    14 best Easter decorations

    Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
    Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

    Paul Scholes column

    Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
    Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

    The future of GM

    The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
    Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

    Britain's mild winters could be numbered

    Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
    Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

    The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

    The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
    Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

    Cowslips vs honeysuckle

    It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
    Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss