Tuesday, June 26, 2007

2007 WSOP, Day 26: Slim Understanding

'Amarillo Slim' PrestonWeird little interview with 1972 WSOP Main Event winner “Amarillo Slim” Preston appeared over on PokerListings this morning. The interviewer caught up with him during the Seniors $1,000 No Limit Hold ’em Event (Event No. 41).

The interview is titled “This Just In: Amarillo Slim, Not A Murderer,” a tongue-in-cheek reference to a comment Slim makes about rumors that he may have had something to do with the murder of Jimmy Shagra’s brother, Leo. Jimmy Shagra was the drug trafficker who found himself in Vegas in the 70s gambling with (and losing to) the likes of Billy Baxter, Preston, and other poker legends. Apparently after serving considerable prison time, Shagra has resurfaced and was spotted yesterday playing in the Seniors event (although I haven’t seen any references to him in the live reports).

When asked about Shagra, Preston seems startled to learn his one-time acquaintance is at the Rio. “Last I heard they transferred him from Leavenworth to um, the penitentiary there in Illinois,” says Preston. “I forgot. I heard that he did roll over and got out.” Then, with no prompting, Preston says “But I liked his brother Leo real well. Leo was a good man. I was down there when he got murdered. I didn't kill him.”

The interviewer responds with nervous laughter. Preston continues, “Well, I didn’t. They thought I did but I didn’t.” Another question about Leo from the reporter and Preston reverts back to the homespun wiseacre act that once served him so well: “Yeah! I put a rattlesnake in his pocket and then asked him for a match!”

By her questions and comments, the interviewer demonstrates only a vague awareness (at best) of Preston’s questionable standing in the present-day poker world. Perhaps she considers him just another one of those “poker legends” whose presence lends a certain color to the proceedings, connecting the present-day WSOP carnival to the series’ more humble origins. I say that because anyone aware of Preston’s 2003 indictment on charges of indecency with his twelve-year-old granddaughter probably wouldn’t say things like “You live the poker dream” or ask questions like “So tell me a story you’ve never told anyone before.”

Knowing nothing more about what took place in Randall County, Texas a few years ago than what appears in the public record -- Preston was found guilty by a jury of three counts of indecency, then managed to plea bargain his way to reduced misdemeanor assault charges -- I’ll refrain from heedless speculation about the case. Whatever happened, it makes his impromptu denial of Leo Shagra’s murder less humorous-sounding, and certainly not worthy of a jokey headline for the interview.

Perhaps we’ll be hearing more from Preston, as he currently sits in 7th place of the 121 players who survived to Day 2 of Event No. 41. Follow along over at Poker News’ live reports.



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