Thomas Austin Preston, Jr.,
known as Amarillo Slim, was a professional gambler known
for his poker skills and proposition bets. Preston won the 1972
World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event and was inducted into the
Poker Hall of Fame in 1992.
Preston was born in Johnson, Arkansas December 31, 1928, but his family
moved to Turkey, Texas for better job opportunities when he was
still a baby. After his parents divorced, his mother returned to
Johnson, while his father moved to Amarillo. Preston ended up living
with his father in Amarillo.
Slim is quoted as saying:
"It's a good thing he did, because Amarillo Slim sounds a heck of a
lot better than Turkey Tom or Arkansas Austin." He would consider
home for the rest of his life, hence his nickname.
Before becoming famous as a tournament player, Preston was a
rounder, touring the United States looking for gambling action along
with Doyle Brunson from Fisher
County and Sailor Roberts. Together the three men would look for any
gambling opportunity they could get their hands on, often finding
themselves at the poker table.
Some of his proposition bets include winning $300,000 from Willie
Neslon playing dominoes and $2 million from Larry Flynt playing
poker. He beat Minnesota Fats at pool with a broom, Bobby Riggs at
table tennis with a skillet, and Evel Knievel at golf with a
Amarillo was in Columbia for the grand opening of the Casino de
Caribe when he was thrown into a helicopter and tied up with wires
by men working for Pablo Escobar, one of the biggest drug dealers in
the world. Pablo suspected he was working for the government, but
once it was confirmed that Amarillo was clean, he gave him a grand
tour of the country.
During the helicopter ride, Pablo mentioned that he loved Amarilloís
gold-plated buttons. As a thank you for not killing him and to make
sure they were still on good terms, Amarillo sent Pablo his own set
of gold plated buttons.
A few months later, Amarillo received a phone call from one of
Pabloís men informing him that Pablo had sent him something: pure
emerald buttons. Who else besides Amarillo Slim can say theyíve be-friended
a violent drug lord?
ďIf thereís anything Iíll argue about, Iíll either bet on it or shut
up. And since itís not becoming for a cowboy to be arguing, Iíve
made a few wagers in my day. But in my humble opinion, Iím no
hustler. You see, neighbor, I never go looking for a sucker. I look
for a champion and make a sucker out of him.Ē Amarillo Slim
Preston died on April 29, 2012, of colon cancer at the age of 83.
Amarillo Slim in a World Full of Fat People: Memoirs of the
Greatest Gambler Who Ever Lived
. . .
More Books by or about Amarillo Slim
Amarillo History , And Memories
Post Cards From The Panhandle
Old Texas Panhandle (History Page)