Amarillo Slim Preston has been called the greatest gambler who ever lived. He's won bets not only in pool halls and poker games, but golf courses,rivers and jail cells. But Preston, who first rose to national prominence when he won the World Series of Poker in 1972, insists that he's not a compulsive gambler. He's a professional.Now in his mid-70s, Preston is still active in his trade. He's spent the last few weeks playing in the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas — and he's still a winner.
Preston was the best friend of casino owner Benny Binion. On Preston's publicity run after his 1972 win he convinced Tom Snyder, host of The Tomorrow Show that came on right after The Tonight Show, to Amarillo Slim Prestonallow Preston, Binion, and Joe Bernstein to have the entire show. Binion didn't care to be in the public spotlight, but Preston convinced him to do it. When Binion died in 1989, he left his horse to Preston.
Amarillo Slim Preston Notable Wins
- 1972 $10,000 No Limit Hold'em World Championship $80,000
- 1974 $1,000 No Limit Hold'em $11,100
- 1985 $5,000 Pot Limit Omaha $85,000
- 1990 $5,000 Pot Limit Omaha $142,000
Preston is often quoted as saying that if a woman ever won the WSOP, he'd slit his throat, but the true story is quite different. During some of the early WSOP events an unpopular woman player got an early chip lead and declared that she was going to be the winner in front of the media. When she asked Preston what he thought of it, he told her that if she won he would slit his throat. She ultimately did not win.
Preston has also helped establish gaming facilities around the world. While he was helping open the Casino de Caribe in Colombia he was kidnapped by people working for Pablo Escobar, who mistook him for another person, but was eventually released.
In May 2003, Preston published his autobiography Amarillo Slim in a World Full of Fat People, where he reveals tales of playing poker with Larry Flynt, Lyndon Johnson, and Richard Nixon, amongst others. He reportedly made an anti-semitic remark on a radio station that hurt a movie deal tied into his book.
In August 2003 Preston was indicted on three charges of indecency with a 12-year-old child (his granddaughter). The charges were reduced to misdemeanor assault in a plea bargain and on February 10, 2004 he pleaded guilty to the reduced charges, receiving a $4,000 fine and two years deferred adjudication.
Preston is married, has three children, and currently resides in Amarillo, Texas.