The 40th Annual World Series of Poker is only weeks away. Between now and the start of the Main Event BluffMagazine.com will be presenting the 40 Greatest Champions in WSOP history exclusively on WorldSeriesofPoker.com. 

Most casual poker fans will not recognize the name Thomas Preston, Jr., but ask them about Amarillo Slim and their eyes will light up.  Many remember him from his appearances on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, or his insane prop bets, or from being the face of poker in the 70s and 80s.

In his career Slim won four WSOP Bracelets including his Main Event win in 1972.  He won another bracelet in No Limit Hold ‘Em in 1974 in a $1,000 event.  He added two more bracelets in 1985 and 1990 in the $5,000 Pot Limit Omaha event.

Slim is perhaps the most colorful character in WSOP history.  Known as the “Greatest Gambler that Ever Lived” Slim sharpened his poker game traveling the Texas road gambler’s circuit with Doyle Brunson and Sailor Roberts.  Writer Tony Holden called Slim “the Imelda Marcos of poker” because of his huge collection of custom-made cowboy boots.

Slim was part of the original table in 1970 when he, Jack Strauss, Puggy Pearson, Johnny Moss, Bill Boyd, and Brunson sat down and played for three days straight.  Moss was ultimately voted the winner.

Slim got his gambling start hustling pool while still in high school. Before his twentieth birthday and after tours in the Navy and the Army, he returned to the States a millionaire from hustling pool and gambling.  Slim’s original best game was pool.  He had several matches with pool legend Minnesota Fats.  Slim had to switch to poker because he simply couldn’t get anymore action playing pool.

Through his flamboyant style and legendary table talk Slim often found himself with an edge.  “I never go looking for a sucker.  I look for a champion and make a sucker of him,” he said.  In his career he outran a horse in a 100 yard dash, rafted down the River of No Return, and was kidnapped by a drug lord.