Photo Credit: Wikipedia
As we approach the 5-year anniversary of the wild Texan Amarillo Slim, famous for his outrageous bets that included elections, sports games, whether a cat could pick up a coke bottle and beating a Taiwanese table tennis champion at his own game using a Coca Cola bottle, we wanted to pay homage to a man that has given so much to horse racing and competitive sport in general – so much so that he even had a horse named after him, which retired in 2009.
To mark the 5 years, we’ve put together 5 of the craziest things Slim did during his long and colourful life:
1: Beat a Horse in a 100-Yard Race
When a man bets that he can outrun the world-famous, champion racehorse Seabiscuit in a 100-yard dash, you wouldn’t be wrong in wondering if the man must be mad. Yet, Slim had outsmarted everyone around him. As part of the bet, Slim was allowed to choose the track they raced on, and the legendary gambler knew exactly what track to choose in order to win. By selecting a 50-yard track, he knew the horse would need to slow and turn – by the time Seabiscuit had made the turn Slim had already passed the finish line!
2: Beat a Taiwanese Ping Pong Player at His Own Game
If there’s one rule in gambling, it should be “never bet against a man at his own game”, but Slim Amarillo was never one for abiding by rules, or even going for easy bets! Having successfully beaten tennis pro Bobby Riggs at ping pong – Slim got to choose the paddles and spent 4 months training to play ping pong with a cast iron skillet – a man named Lefty challenged him to another match with a contender of his choice. Slim agreed, again if he could choose the paddles. Lefty presumed Slim would opt for a skillet and had his player, a Taiwanese ping pong champion, practising with a skillet. Yet Slim suspected this and instead showed up on the day with empty glass Coca Cola bottles for paddles.
3: The Golf Bet Against Evel Knievel
When someone bets you a million dollars that they can make a golf ball travel a mile using just a carpenter’s hammer, you’d be mad not to take it. That is, of course, unless it’s Slim Amarillo making that bet, as you know you’re most likely about to be tricked. Yet daring stuntman Evel Knievel was still game to take the bet, and Slim proceeded to hit the golf ball onto a frozen lake where it slid further than a mile. Knievel was pretty shocked but kept his side of the bargain and paid up the million dollars.
4: The Blind Bowler
When it came to his prop bets, Slim was always prepared and his $20,000 bet that a professional bowler couldn’t bowl over 70 blindfolded was no exception. Seeing the bet, a fellow poker player took the same bet – except he was shooting for 50 – and also failed. So, when Slim’s driver walked in and Slim claimed that he COULD reach the 7- blindfolded, nobody believed him.
However, Slim ‘forgot’ to mention that the driver had been blind all his life and knew exactly how to bowl with his disability.
5: The Time Slim Got Kidnapped
Yet it wasn’t just crazy bets and tricks that Amarillo Slim was famous for, he was also known for his wild stories. Stories that no one really knows whether they are the truth or completely fabricated. One such tale, featured in Slim’s autobiography, claimed that in the 1990s Slim was actually kidnapped by henchmen working for infamous drug lord Pablo Escobar. During this kidnapping, the henchman were ready to throw Slim out of a helicopter to his death, however, once they realised exactly who he was, Pablo Escobar instead apologised and asked to play Texas hold’em with him.