Amarillo Slim aka. Thomas Austin Preston, born December 31, 1928, Johnson, Arkansas; started off his gambling career at the age of sixteen, hustling pool; and then in both the navy and army. He soon shot to celebrity status as a very young man, and returned from service in Germany, reportedly a millionaire! – A natural born burn or bluff poker player. After spending some time sowing wild oats and travelling around the US with a youthfully befriended troupe of talented card sharks, Amarillo Slim, it seemed would bet on absolutely anything that moved. Basketball, football, pool, even golf was grist for his mill; as long as he suspected that it would move faster than anything else. Most of the time, he won – this poker player had a most discerning eye for detail.
In 1972 Amarillo Slim won the World Series of Poker main event and subsequently picked up three other WSOP bracelets: a thousand Dollar no limit hold ’em in ’74, and the five thousand Dollar pot limit Omaha game, at both The ’85 and ’90 WSOP. In the meantime, he had bought, a ranch, just outside of Amarillo, Texas.
Slim’s seemingly charmed poker/gambling career has spanned a life long of road trips, tournaments, and exhibitions. Being featured on national television’s most popular talk shows including “Good Morning America”, “The Tonight Show”, and “60 minutes”; Amarillo Slim’s celebrity reputation kept escalating to even greater heights. The poker playing, honey talkin’ cowboy from Amarillo, Texas, could read another man’s subtle facial expressions, decipher his emotions, and then play his own hand almost every time to his own advantage. He sold his image as a poker face beneath a signature Stetson, and was inducted into The Poker Hall of Fame in 1992.
Winning as much, and as consistently as Slim has won; makes for bitter enemies – we cant judge? But the man’s character has been described by some as tough “and mean as a junkyard dog”. But then a backlash under extra-ordinary circumstances; is almost always bound to be judgemental to a degree. In March 2003, Thomas Austin Preston was accused of child molestation. As a result; he was embarrassed publically, his family was greatly upset, and he was shunned by much of the closely knit poker community. He subsequently stopped playing the big poker events, withdrew from the public eye, and kept completely silent on the issue for nearly six years. Since then he has twice been robbed at gun-point, whether the robberies were related to the charges or not are a moot point; but eventually he broke his silence. In an interview with the sports writer Nolan Dalla, in a Las Vegas hotel room in 2009; he reverently defended himself as a family man first, and felt very deeply about the fact that he believed he had been framed.
He has always known about poker; that it’s got nothing to do with the cards or what’s on them, whether its hearts, diamonds, clubs or spades. “You’ve simply got to be able to read a man’s face, the length of his sleeves, and the shine on his cuff-links.” – Amarillo Slim.