Poker legend “Amarillo Slim” Preston died Sunday morning at the age of 83.
Born Thomas Austin Preston Jr. on Dec. 31, 1928 in Johnson, Arkansas, “Amarillo Slim” became one of poker’s most well known personalities and a great hype man for the Texas road gamblers and the early World Series of Poker.
Preston, always unmistakably adorned in his trademark Stetson hat and custom cowboy boots, won the World Series of Poker’s main event in 1972, just the third year the event was held.
After winning the event, he sought to help change the image of poker and became, as he says in his 2003 autobiography, titled Amarillo Slim in a World Full of Fat People, “a touring ambassador for the sport.”
Preston was adapt at bringing attention to the game of poker and to himself.
He appeared on the Tonight Show 11 times where, according to Preston’s autobiography, “Johnny and I got along like ham and eggs.” He also appeared on other television shows such as 60 Minutes and Good Morning America, as well as on several game shows.
“People have been making all this fuss about Moneymaker but Slim was Moneymaker before Moneymaker was alive,” Poker Hall of Fame Member Crandall Addington told Card Player. “Slim was instrumental, the front man, the golden voice that helped poker grow and he helped people realize the game was not just full of gangsters, thugs and leg breakers.”
Preston’s autobiography is full of colorful gambling tales, such as beating Minnesota Fats in pool with a broom, that helped embellish his reputation as a world class gambler and hustler.
Preston was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in 1992. He won four total WSOP bracelets.
His family released a statement Sunday that was posted to the World Series of Poker website.
“We hope everyone will remember our beloved Amarillo Slim for all the positive things he did for poker and to popularize his favorite game, Texas Hold’em,” the family said.
Famous quotes from Amarillo Slim:
“Poker is a game of people… It’s not the hand I hold, it’s the people that I play with.”
“If you can’t spot the sucker within the first half hour at the table, then you are the sucker.”
“Nobody is always a winner, and anybody who says he is, is either a liar or doesn’t play poker.”
“They anticipate losing when they sit down and I try my darndest not to disappoint one of them.”
“I never go looking for a sucker. I look for a Champion and make a sucker of him.”
“The population in Amarillo has stayed the same over the last fifty years. Every time some woman gets pregnant, some man leaves town.”
“It never hurts for potential opponents to think you’re more than a little stupid and can hardly count all the money in your hip pocket, much less hold on to it..”
“I like you son, but I’ll put a rattlesnake in your pocket and ask you for a match.”
Amarillo Slim Preston, is the Guinness Book of Records holder for being in five Halls of Fame: poker, gambling, seniors, legends of Texas and legends of Nevada.