Wednesday, April 18, 2007


The legendary Amarillo Slim, whose real name is Thomas Austin Preston, became famous for winning the World Series of Poker in the 1970's when there were only about 10 entrants. Today, there are thousands. That's not meant to belittle Mr. Slim's skill, because he was invited to play against the top players in the world.

Mr. Slim was less well known for winning outrageous proposition bets. For example, he was badgered by former world champion tennis player and noted hustler Bobby Riggs (remember Billie Jean King) to play a game of ping pong for big money. Mr. Slim agreed to do so, provided that he choose the paddles. He came to the match armed with a large skillet for each of them, and he quickly dispatched Mr. Riggs to the losers circle.

Later, hearing of this the world champion ping pong player, a Taiwanese gentleman, challenged Mr. Slim to a game. Once again, Mr. Slim agreed to do so if he chose the paddles. Knowing the Taiwanese was probably practicing with a skillet, Mr. Slim appeared at the match with 2 Coke bottles. Obviously well practiced with the Coke bottles, Mr. Slim easily disposed of the champ.

Mr. Slim had a perfect record in the 100 yard dash against racehorses. He bet that he could beat a racehorse in a 100 yard dash. Although Mr. Slim had run on the track team as a young man, if the race had been run on a straightaway, he had no chance. The trick was that the race was run 50 yards one way, and 50 yards back. He finished the race before the jockey could turn the horse around. He could have beaten the famed Secretariat in a race like that.

Then there was the time he beat Minnesota Fats in pool, using a broomstick. Mr. Fats, who was really from New York, was the pool champion portrayed by Jackie Gleason in the movie, The Hustler, which starred Paul Newman. (Newman also starred in Hud, which, despite popular belief, was not a movie about a government agency.)

The lesson here is: don't let greed impair your good judgment. If someone wants to bet you the sun will come up in the West, don't take the bet. Have you ever been to Panama?




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