While at the Reno Hilton in January, I had the pleasure of spending
some time with the renowned ambassador of poker, Amarillo Slim
Preston. I have known Slim for several years, and on many occasions
have talked (actually, mostly listened) to him. Slim usually comes to a
tournament for a day or two and then leaves, but in January at the
Hilton, he spent the better part of the tournament in Reno. So, instead
of seeing him for a few minutes every once in a while, I had the privilege
of hanging out with him for several hours on quite a few days.
Slim looked better and more energetic than he has in years, and before
long I realized a couple of things. First, the man can still play poker; he
won one event and took fifth in the championship event. Second, it was
apparent that he has not lost his entertaining gift of storytelling. It
shouldn’t surprise anyone that Slim is a master storyteller. How else
could a guy, known only for his poker playing, appear as a guest on the
Tonight Show a whopping 10 times?
So, when Slim began holding court at the Reno Hilton, it was only a
matter of time before a crowd had gathered to listen. I, like everyone
else, could not get enough of listening to his experiences and stories.
There were a couple of stories that I especially liked, so I asked him if I
could pass them along to Card Player readers. He was kind enough to
let me, so this is my attempt to do them justice.
Slim, besides being a world-class poker player, has an interest in playing
pool. It seems that at one particular gathering of pool players, Slim
proposed a bet. The bet, for the modest amount of $20,000, was that a
top professional bowler who was also in attendance could not bowl a
score of 70 or more. The catch was that the pro would have to be
Slim had no trouble getting faded for the entire $20,000. The “good ol’
boys” knew this top pro with a 240 average could surely overcome this
slight handicap of being blindfolded.
Well, needless to say, the pro bowler bowls a game lower than 70. Slim
wins his bet, but in reality, he’s just getting started. There are other fish
Enter a top pro poker player, who also is an athlete and obviously very
coordinated. His name will be withheld so as not to possibly embarrass
him. Mr. Poker Player also makes a sizable bet with Slim, but he wants to
bet that he can break 50 instead of 70. Slim agrees, and once again,
Slim wins. Here’s one small side note: While trying to break 50, the pro
poker player got a little disoriented and threw the bowling ball through a
pane glass window. I forgot to ask Slim who paid for the window — the
poker player or him.
Slim is doing pretty well; he’s two for two and has made a nice little
haul. Sometime later at a similar type of gathering, Slim, being the
gentleman he is, decides to give the good ol’ boys a chance to get their
money back. He announces that he is willing to bet that he knows a guy,
a nonpro bowler, who can break 70 blindfolded. Slim asks, “Anybody
interested in betting a little something?” The line starts forming
immediately. Since the boys had witnessed the pro bowler’s inability to
perform this feat, they didn’t see how a normal guy could possibly do it.
To everyone’s surprise — everyone except Slim, that is — the man bowls
several pins higher than 70.
The good ol’ boys got it stuck to them again. The catch was that even
though the man was just an amateur bowler, he had in effect been
bowling blindfolded his whole life. You see, Slim’s friend was blind.
The second story took place in Slim’s native Texas. It occurred way back
when Slim was palling around with Benny Binion. Apparently, the good
ol’ boys were sitting around chatting one day when the subject of quail
came up. It was agreed by everyone that there is something about quail
that does not allow a person to eat a quail a day for more than a couple
of weeks. The longest stint anyone could remember somebody eating a
quail a day was 17 days. After the gabfest broke up, Benny and Slim
were riding down the road together when Benny says, “Slim, we got to
figure out how to get someone to eat a quail a day for 30 days. We
could win a bundle of money with a bet like that.” Slim agrees, and the
subject is dropped.
We now fast-forward a few weeks and find Slim in Roswell, New Mexico,
breaking some horses. One of the boys in the ring with the horses is a
big, strapping kid. Slim thinks nothing of it until he goes into the barn for
something and sees the very same boy who was in the ring standing
there in the barn! One fellow is in two different places at the same time.
Not hardly, and as you have probably guessed, they are identical twins.
Slim’s mind goes to work. He gets the two boys together and asks, “You
guys want to make some money?” The kids say, “Sure, who we got to
kill?” Slim says, “No one; all you guys got to do is eat some quail.”
“Sure,” they reply, and now the scheme is hatched.
The next time Slim, Benny, and their friends are back in Texas with a
suitable gathering, Slim announces that he knows a boy who can eat a
quail a day for 30 days. There’s no problem getting the money down, as
everyone there knows it is impossible to eat a quail a day for 30 days.
You’re sick to death of it in no more than 17 days.
The kid is brought in and the bet starts. Naturally, with all that money
bet, the kid has a bodyguard. Also, 30 days is a long time, and the kid
has to have some diversions, such as a movie every three or four days.
Of course, after a few Cokes in the theater, it’s natural to have to use
the restroom. Men in Texas don’t go to the restroom with other men, so
this is when “the switch” takes place. Piece of cake — the boys eat the
quail, Benny and Slim win their bet, and the legend of Amarillo Slim
Preston lives on.
So, please take my advice, folks. Don’t enter into a bet with Amarillo
Slim, and never miss an opportunity to hear him spin one of his yarns.
You’ll lose on both accounts if you do.
For what it’s worth …
Slim and None -- Better
By Vince Burgio