In the 1970s, poker was a tainted game—played in back rooms and basements. But through Amarillo Slim’s books and late-night TV appearances, he made the game more respectable—and more accessible. He helped turn poker into the multibillion-dollar enterprise it is today.
Last Sunday, the 83-year-old pool hall hustler-turned-poker guru passed away. “Slim was the first real face of poker,” says gambling expert Anthony Curtis. “He had a bigger name than Doyle [Brunson], Puggy [Pearson], Chip [Reese] or any of them.” Local poker pro Blair Rodman says that Slim “put poker on the map. However good he was as a player, he was even better as a promoter and entertainer.”
Brunson, a poker legend in his own right, took to Twitter to say: “Feeling blue after Slim’s passing, even though I was expecting it. Sickening to read what some folks are saying about him.” Brunson was likely referring to mentions of Slim’s 2003 indictment for indecency with a 12-year-old child (charges reduced to misdemeanor assault, to which Slim pleaded guilty while maintaining his innocence).