Thomas Austin Preston, Jr. (born December 31, 1928 in Johnson, Arkansas), known as Amarillo Slim, is a professional gambler, famous for his poker skills and proposition bets. He won the main event at the 1972 World Series of Poker. He has been a member of the Poker Hall of Fame since 1992. Find many great new & used options and get the best deals for AMARILLO SLIM IN A WORLD FULL OF FAT PEOPLE: MEMOIRS OF By Amarillo Slim Preston at the best online prices at eBay! Free shipping for many products! Although he was born Thomas Austin Preston, Jr. On December 31 st, 1928, more people know him by his nickname today: Amarillo Slim. He was born in Johnson, Arkansas, but his family moved to Turkey, Texas for better job opportunities when he was still a baby. His parents’ divorce caused him to move once more.
With today's growing acceptance of poker as a legitimate game of skill, it can be hard for some younger players to imagine that things were ever any different. Before the big media got involved with poker, though, the game was seen as something worthy of contempt. Most people unfamiliar with the game imagined poker to be the province of liars, cheaters, and murderers. Benny Binion's creation of the World Series of Poker was one of the biggest steps in legitimizing the game to the public at large. Even more so than the creation of the WSOP, though, the most important event in terms of helping the public accept poker was 'Amarillo Slim' Preston's win in the 1972 WSOP Main Event.
Thomas Austin Preston, Jr., was born in Johnson, Arkansas, on December 31, 1928. He grew up in the north Texas town of Mineral Wells, but moved to Amarillo when his parents divorced. It was there that Preston first met Benny Binion, with whom he would share a close friendship throughout Binion's life. After stints in the Navy and the Army, where he served as a bookie for his fellow soldiers, Preston returned to Texas and met Doyle Brunson and Brian 'Sailor' Roberts. As outlined in the introduction to Brunson's seminal Super System, the three formed a partnership and traveled around playing from the same bankroll and helping each other hone their games. They became known as a trio that would bet on just about anything, and they made a lot of money doing so.
Preston first came to the attention of the wider public after his win in the 1972 WSOP Main Event. Always the gregarious type, he made the rounds of television news and talk shows. He appeared on The Tonight Show, 60 Minutes, and Good Morning America, in addition to numerous other game shows. He became a bona fide celebrity - people loved to hear him tell wild stories in his down-home manner, and without a doubt he had more stories than the next hundred people put together. His newfound status helped to really put poker on the map, and over the next several years he continued to make television appearances and to act as an ambassador for the game.
After he became famous for his win, Preston began hosting tournaments. The biggest of these was Amarillo Slim's Super Bowl of Poker, which became for a time the second-largest poker tournament in the world behind the WSOP. (It was the SBOP that was the stage for Stu Ungar's first-ever tournament win.) He also hosted his own tournaments in Sun City, South Africa, and Adelaide, Australia. His name and fame took him to casinos around the world, including one memorable stop in Colombia. While visiting for the opening of the Casino de Caribe in Cartagena, he was kidnapped by henchmen of the infamous drug lord Pablo Escobar. When Escobar found out who he Preston was he took him on a tour of the country. Preston had a set of buttons and cufflinks made for Escobar resembling his own, which were made of uncirculated $1 and $5 gold pieces; Escobar sent Preston his own set of buttons made of uncut, unpolished emeralds.
In his time, Preston made big bets with some of the most famous names in America. He once won a bet with tennis champion Bobby Riggs in a game of ping-pong played with iron skillets, and bested Minnesota Fats in a game of pool played with a broomstick. He took $2 million off Hustler publisher Larry Flynt, and won bets with Evel Knievel and Willie Nelson, among others. Some of his greatest stories were collected in his biography, Amarillo Slim In A World Full Of Fat People.
While his fame and fortune carried him far in life, it couldn't save him from a terrible mistake. In 2003, at around the same time the WSOP was going on, he was indicted on three charges of indecency with a 12-year-old girl (reportedly one of his granddaughters). Through a plea bargain he ended up being convicted on three misdemeanor counts of assault, paying a $4,000 fine and serving a two year deferred sentence. While in the law's eyes he will be clean at the end of the two years, the public will likely always remember him as a child molester. It's a sad fate for a man who did more than anyone else to make poker a legitimate pastime for millions of people around the world.
If places like Betfair have proved anything, it’s that you can bet on the outcome of basically any event these days.
If you don’t believe us, take a look at some of the most outrageous prop bets in gambling history.
5. Amarillo Slim’s bets
We said you could bet on anything “these days”, but legendary Texan gambler Amarillo Slim spent his whole life doing that way before Betfair and other online casinos existed.
Slim could fill this list all by himself, but for the sake of brevity let’s just give some of his highlights:
- Racing a horse: Slim bet that he could beat a racehorse in a hundred-yard dash, and got no shortage of takers. The only condition was that he would choose the track; he chose 50 yards one way and 50 yards back. By the time the horse had stopped, turned around, and got up to speed again, Slim was over the line.
- World championship ping-pong: Slim bet that he could beat a Taiwanese table tennis champion at his own game, so long as the Texan provided the paddles. He showed up with two Coca-Cola bottles instead of regular paddles; Slim had been practicing with these for months and deftly beat his opponent.
- A record golf drive: Could you drive a golf ball over a mile? Slim reckoned he could, and he did – because he hit the ball over a frozen lake and it slid far, far into the distance.
4. Jason Mercier’s bracelets
Just this year, poker champion Jason Mercier found himself on the right end of a huge 180/1 bet against fellow pro Vanessa Selbst. She had wagered that Mercier couldn’t win three World Series of Poker bracelets in 2016, putting up $1.8 million to Mercier’s $10,000.
Selbst came to almost immediately regret her decision when Mercier swiftly won a bracelet, followed it up with an oh-so-close second-place finish a few days later and then nabbed a second bracelet within a week.
Selbst had offered a $100,000 buyout before Mercier won his first, then she was forced to sell a lot of her side of the bet as Mercier kept doing well in events. Fortunately for her, Mercier had to settle for two bracelets in one summer and Selbst kept her $1.8 million.
3. Erick Lindgren’s golf
Golf and gambling go hand-in-hand, especially when it’s professional gamblers playing. Poker player Erick Lindgren got involved in a golf bet with several other pros, claiming he could: Swiss 777 300er seat map.
- Play four rounds of golf from the pro tees at a 7,000-yard course.
- Shoot under 100 in each round.
- Walk the whole way, carrying his own clubs.
Anyone with a passing familiarity with golf knows that a 72-hole day is a long one, and $340,000 went on the line.
Unfortunately for Lindgren, his foes picked the day – one of the hottest in Las Vegas. Lindgren spent over 14 hours playing golf, lost more than 15 pounds and suffered from heatstroke and dehydration – but he did it, and pocketed a tidy sum.
2. Vegetarian Ivey
Playing on GSN’s High Stakes Poker, Phil Ivey got involved in a prop bet with fellow poker player Tom Dwan. The concept was simple – Ivey had to go vegetarian for a full calendar year, and there was a cool million dollars on the line.
“I was thinking about doing it for a while,” Ivey said while negotiating the bet. “So this is like an added incentive.”
Amarillo Slim Arrest
Initially, Ivey wanted to bet $5 million. He’s probably glad he didn’t, as he bought out of the bet for a $150,000 fee just three weeks later.
Amarillo Slim Bets
1. Brian Zembic’s 38Cs
Perhaps the most famous and ridiculous bet of all time, especially for how relatively small the sum of money involved is, remains Brian Zembic’s “Breast Bet.”
Amarillo Slim Bio
Zembic – a male, if you hadn’t guessed – had to receive breast implants and keep them for a year. If he did, he’d win $100,000. A gambler to the core, Zembic sought out a surgeon after losing a lot of money on the stock market and got the operation free after beating the doctor in backgammon.
Amarillo Slim Johnny Carson
Zembic has the breasts to this day, 20 years later.