Monday, April 14, 2008

Everybody's Luck Runs Slim Now & Again - A My Town Monday Post

"The population in Amarillo has remained
the same for the last fifty years. Every time
some women gets pregnant a guy leaves town."

"You can shear a sheep many times, but you
can only skin him once."

"Nobody is always a winner and anybody
who says he is, is either a liar or doesn't play


"They anticipate losing when they sit down

and I try my darndest not to disappoint one
of them."

Those are all quotes from Amarillo Slim, one of the greatest poker players and speculation gamblers to ever live.

Amarillo Slim won the main event of the No Limit Texas Hold'Em World Series of Poker back in 1972 and has appeared in movies, and a variety of television shows. Next year a movie about his life is supposed to come out with Nicholas Cage starring as the gambler.

Gamblers tend to be motivated by one of two things, cold hard cash, or fame. I've never met the man, but if I was guessing I'd say Amarillo Slim revels in both. I have seen Mr. Preston out and about on a few locations including a pool hall that he once owned and still bears his name. He's tall lanky, and nearly always wearing a light colored cowboy hat. His reputation as a truth stretcher and story teller is widely known, yet in gambling circles he is commonly referred to as the best spokesman the game of poker has ever known.

Lots of men have won the World Series of Poker and they haven't appeared on The Tonight Show, Good Morning America or had entire movies made about them. So what separates Amarillo Slim fro the pack. What forced his repuation?

Here's a list of his reported gambling accomplishments.

Slim once beat Minnesota Fats using a broomstick as his cue. He bested Evel Knievel in a round of golf using only a carpenters hammer. He bet and won that he could outrun famous thoroughbred Seabiscuit for a hundred yards. (He never said it would be a straight one hundred yards. He boasted and wagered he could drive a golf ball at least a mile. (Which he did on a frozen lake." Willie Nelson reportedly lost $300,00 grand to him playing dominoes. He beat Bobby Riggs at ping-pong using an iron skillet as his paddle. Slim earned 31,000 grand from Jimmy "The Greek" Snyder by rafting down The River of No Return in the dead of winter. He accepted a cash laden dare to ride a camel ride through the middle of Moroccos' fanciest casino. And he took over a million dollars in a highly publicized poker game against Larry Flynt.

The details of all those tales and more are in his book titles, Amarillo Slim in a World Full of Fat People.

But like most gambler Slim hasn't always came up a winner. While in Columbia for the opening of a casino he was once kidnapped by some henchman of infamous drug lord Pablo Escobar, but was eventually released unharmed. He's said himself he's been rich one day and broke the next. A few years back someone fired three shots at his car while he was driving, and along about the same time, he came home and interrupted a couple of robbers in his hose who held him at gunpoint with his own shotguns while they pillaged his house.

And, a fact that I'm sure Hollywood will overlook in their tale of his life, Amarillo Slim, whose real name is Thomas Preston Jr., was charged with 3 felony accounts of improperly touching a minor child. As I recall the girl was twelve or thirteen and somehow related to him. The charge were eventually reduced in a plea bargain. His wife divorced him during the same time period.

So the man is without a doubt colorful, one hell of a gambler, and a legend in pool halls and poker rooms, but hustling money from the naive and rich is one thing, molesting a child another, and while the first makes you a memorable character the latter is despicable.

I can't say for certain what he did or didn't do, but being as how he didn't fight the charges and accepted a deal which placed him on the list as a registered sex offender I can only say his image is severely tarnished in my opinion. I would think a gambler would take his chances in court, unless he knew he was guilt, and while I'm sure any tale about his adventurous life will be entertaining, here's hoping Hollywood doesn't portray him as some kind of Vegas-esque Robin Hood figure who took from the rich for noble reasons.

My Fellow My Town Monday-ers
(If you wanna post about your town and drop me a line in the comments where to find you)

Josephine Damian -- New Rochelle, New York
Patti Abbott -- Detroit, Michigan
Carleen Brice -- Denver, Colorado
DebbieLou -- Bishop Stortford, England
Alex Keto -- Qatar
Britta Coleman - - Fort Worth, Texas
Clair Dickson -- Livingston County, Michigan
Debra(From Skilled Hands) -- Village of Peninsula, Ohio
Lana Gramlich -- Abita Springs, Louisiana
Samantha Winston -- Montchauvet, France
Cicily Janus -- Atlanta, Georgia & Colorado Springs, Colorado
Clare2E (Women of Mystery) -- Hartsdale, New York
Stephen Parrish -- Euro-topia
Sex Scenes at Starbucks -- An ode to the displaced.
Lyzzydee -- Welwyn Garden City, England
Linda Mclaughlin -- Orange County, California


alex keto said...

Ive got a derivative post. not my town but a place I visited

alex keto said...

Amarillo slim was colorful but apparently took that a bit a too far, as you noted.

Carleen Brice said...

I'm in.

debra said...

My early addition is up.

Britta Coleman said...

Great stories about a truly colorful character. I'd never heard that about the molestation charges, which dials down his appeal factor to below zero in my book. Talk about Slim Shady.

My post is up.

Clair Dickson said...

I've got a post on my site.

Even a gambler knows when to fold... and you know Hollywood will twist the story into something unrecognizable one way or another. IMNHO

Josephine Damian said...

Oooooh Travis, when you learn about personality disorders you realize that there's more operating with this guy than just a need for dough and fame. Many people want those things but they don't necessarily resort to such risky and criminal behavior.

I wasn't surprised at all to learn about the bad stuff he did. It fits with the rest of his accomplishments.

Of course it's that very behavior that made him ideal for Hollywood.

Hope you're feeling better. Glad to see you're able to keep up with the demands of being the My Town boss.

Lana Gramlich said...

Thanks for sharing Amarillo Slim. His exploits sound legendary. Sorry to hear about the negative things, of course.
My MTM post is up;

Debbielou said...

I hope that they don't give him a penny for the film!

Sam said...

That is a colorful character, and what a life! I wonder what Hollywood will do with that story (Bambi-fy it?)
Your town is way more interesting than mine, but I posted a My Town post for sleepy Montchauvet, lol.

B.E. Sanderson said...

Sorry to hear about Amarillo Slim's misdeeds, but he was never my favorite poker player. Of the old guard, I prefer Doyle Brunson (and if he's got nasties in his past, don't tell me). My favorite, though, is Daniel Negreanu.

Thanks for sharing. Even though I don't always comment, I enjoy reading your Monday posts. =o)

debra said...

I'm up

pattinase (abbott) said...

Sometimes it feels like we live in different countries!

Bubblewench said...

I have always loved seeing in in the WSOP... neat to know some more about him! Thanks!

Cicily Janus said...

Very good post Travis...and just so you know...I actually posted and got on the MYtown Monday bandwagon...

I hope you're feeling better today!



Clare2e said...

We've got our Peternity MTM up at Women of Mystery- Clare Toohey

P.S. I'm a fan of Amarillo Slim's legend and hijinks, but I didn't know about that criminal band of slime attached to him.

Stephen Parrish said...

I'm in.

sex scenes at starbucks said...

I posted, Travis. :)

ChristineEldin said...

I can forgive a lot of vices. I'm about as far left as you can get. But for child molesters, I want the death penalty. There is no rehabilitation. ANd the chain of hurt fans out.

This was a great post. I liked his story up until that point.

Ello said...

Sorry Travis - I was way too sick this weekend to work on a post for you. I'll make up for it next week.

But this post was quite interesting. I vaguely knew about Amarillo Slim but had no idea of the story there!

lyzzydee said...

Great story, very colourful character!!

My story is posted. Its never as exciting as everyone leses though!!!

Charles Gramlich said...

Slim sounds like a helluva guy. I wonder if he could beat Tiger Woods with an oar.

Linda McLaughlin said...

Interesting post, Travis. Slim sounded like a great character until the child molester part came up. Isn't it disappointing when our heroes turn out to have ugly secrets?

I did my first "My Town Monday" post today, My Town Monday: County Versus Town at

This should be a lot of fun!


Bina said...

Wow! He was an amazing man. Yea, too bad about the child thing. He would have been a great legend. Now he's just a child molester.

spyscribbler said...

Oh, wow. I liked him until that last bit. That's the one thing that will just make me crazy, pretty much.

Adriann said...

Wanted to stop by and tell you that I'm having a one year blogavesary RAK. Come by and see me.