Amarillo Slim in a World of Fat People

Thomas Preston, otherwise known as Amarillo Slim was one of the greatest gamblers of the 20th century. He's won bets not only in pool halls and poker games, but golf courses, rivers and jail cells. Preston, first rose to national prominence when he won the World Series of Poker in 1972, he insists he's not a compulsive gambler. He's a professional.

"In my humble opinion, I'm no ordinary hustler," he writes. "You see, neighbor, I never go looking for a sucker. I look for a champion and make a sucker out of him."

In Amarillo Slim in a World Full of Fat People, the consummate gambler relives some of his greatest exploits. Among his famous victims are country music legend Willie Nelson - $300,000 playing dominoes and adult magazine publisher Larry Flynt - $2 million in a poker game. In recent interviews, Preston tells that the trick to winning lies in knowing the odds.

"When you put down a sports wager," he says, "it helps to know something other people don't know."

It's a principle he's put to use in creative ways. In the 1970s, for example, Preston challenged former Wimbledon champion Bobby Riggs to a high stakes game of Ping-Pong, insisting only that he be allowed to choose the paddles. Riggs agreed and was soundly beaten when Preston showed up with two cooking skillets. Amarillo had been secretly practicing with for months.

Finding himself at a gambling affair in Florida when the event itself was held up by armed bandits, Thomas Austin “Amarillo Slim” Preston, Jr., like the other patrons of this event, was forced to lie down on the floor at gun point. His assailants, recognizing this true celebrity, told him he alone could keep his valuables. However, concerned as to how this would appear to his fellow victims, Slim insisted he be robbed as well. A little more than a week later, his money and valuables were anonymously returned to him by his robbers. Call it respect, or perhaps more than a little fear, but someone would have to be a pretty remarkable person to elicit this sort of behavior from total strangers under any circumstances.

Written by the man himself, now aged 82, Slim recalls some of his greatest bets and how he set them up, including how he bet he could hit a golf ball a mile, beat the world champion at ping pong at his own game and out running a horse for 100 yards.

Poker was a massive part of Slims life, he played poker with two Presidents, the worlds biggest drug dealer Pablo Escobar, not through choice, took 1.7 million dollars from porn king Larry Flynt and has 5 WSOP bracelets, including winning the tournament in 1972.

Amarillo Slim Preston is still active in his trade spending a few weeks playing in the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas - and he's still a winner.