Slim Down in Houston

Note: Amarillo Slim had to have surgery this week, so his visit to Houston has been postponed. His reading in Houston will be rescheduled. We'll keep you posted.

Talk about an extraordinary life. Amarillo Slim, considered the best gambler on earth, won $300,000 off Willie Nelson in a game of dominoes and $2 million off Larry Flynt in a game of poker. He also beat Minnesota Fats playing pool with a broom, Evel Knievel playing golf with a carpenter's hammer and Bobby Riggs playing Ping-Pong with a skillet. Slim has been inducted into five gambling halls of fame. No one else is in more than two.

Slim will be stopping in Houston this weekend to read from his new book, Amarillo Slim in a World Full of Fat People: The Memoirs of the Greatest Gambler Who Ever Lived, which he wrote with Greg Dinkin. The book's title may sound immodest, but Slim himself is all understatement. "It's about some of my experiences in life," he says. "Most of them were a little bit unusual."

You won't glean many of Slim's tricks from the memoir (if that's what you want, read Play Poker to Win, which he wrote after winning the World Series of Poker in 1972). In his new book, Slim dishes out all his stories, which include being kidnapped in Colombia, riding a camel through the fanciest casino in Marrakech and taking a five-day rafting trip in subzero weather. "Everything I wanted to do I've already done," says the 74-year-old gambler, who still lives in Amarillo, "so it's smooth sailing from here."

But that doesn't mean Slim's cashed in his chips for the last time. "I'm playing a poker game right now," he said from Las Vegas in a recent phone conversation. "Have you ever seen $8 million in cash? That's a stash." He was playing Texas Hold 'Em at the World Series of Poker.

Though Slim's made a fortune gambling, he doesn't consider himself especially lucky. "I think that you make your own luck," he says. "At the end of the year, everybody gets the same amount."

So anybody can pursue a career in gambling? Hell, no, says Slim. If he met a kid looking to follow in his footsteps, he'd "tell him to go get him a commercial driver's license and drive a dump truck or something."

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Cathy Matusow
Contact: Cathy Matusow