July 3rd, 2008
04:00 PM ET
15 years ago

McCain and Obama put it on the line

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/07/03/art.gambling.getty.jpg caption=" Both presidential candidates have been known to enjoy gambling."]

(CNN) – John McCain often brags about gambling with his political career by reaching across the aisle to work with Democrats or by voting against his party. But it turns out risking his political ambition is only part of a larger affinity for the thrill of putting it on the line.

An article published Thursday by Time Magazine takes a look at both McCain and Barack Obama’s love for the tables.

McCain is a heavy-betting high-energy craps man, while Obama prefers the slow pace and strategy of poker, reporters Michael Scherer and Michael Weisskopf write.

“Enjoying craps opens up a window on a central thread constant in John's life,” the article quotes former McCain strategist John Weaver as saying. “Taking a chance, playing against the odds.”

You won’t find McCain at the low-stakes tables, but rolling the dice with thousands of dollars at stake. He draws the line at taking markers, or loans, from the casinos to play.
He’s not in it for the money, the article says, but the camaraderie at the table and the thrill of winning.

Aides have recently curbed McCain’s casino visits, and Obama’s gambling days have waned since arriving in the U.S. Senate. But back in Springfield, Obama and three other state senators made up the core of a weekly bi-partisan poker game that often included lobbyists and bank, insurance and utilities agents.

Tight play and an unwavering desire to win kept Obama raking in the $3 top raise pots, and led a Republican rival to exclaim, “Doggone it, Barack, if you were more liberal in your card-playing and more conservative in your politics, you and I would get along much better.”


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (200 Responses)
  1. Kevin

    At least, they're human....

    July 3, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  2. Molly

    obama is a Total FRAUD!!!!
    Rev Wright was RIGHT – "Obama will say whatever he has to – he is a Politician"! Sure BET the DNC is sorry they picked the WRONG guy – he will Never win the white house.

    Senator Clinton is the best qualified to lead our country
    McCain 2nd choice – Never obama

    July 3, 2008 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  3. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    This sounds like a lot of crap to me.

    July 3, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  4. Willy

    POTUS is not an Affirmative Action position.

    July 3, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  5. Capt. Smash, Salt Lake City, Utah

    You won’t find McCain at the low-stakes tables, but rolling the dice with thousands of dollars at stake. He draws the line at taking markers, or loans, from the casinos to play. He’s not in it for the money, the article says, but the camaraderie at the table and the thrill of winning.

    If this does not tell you how McWar will run our country then nothing will. He will risk it all to win including American lives and tax-payers money.

    July 3, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  6. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    A pair of jokers is a losing hand for America no matter how you place your bets.

    July 3, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  7. Taking the GOP to the cleaners

    Yup.....BO takin' the GOP's beer money!......

    July 3, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  8. Dan

    And if Obama wins, we can say the same thing about the U.S. in general.

    July 3, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  9. Matt M.

    C'mon CNN, that doesn't even compare. McCain playing thousand-dollar craps (which is almost purely a game of chance) vs. Obama playing $3-pot poker games (a much more strategy oriented game)with fellow senators? The former is irresponsible and reckless, while the latter is responsible and clearly intended to build comaraderie. It's not fair to compare a possible gambling problem ("aides have recently curbed McCain's casino visits"?) with a friendly game of low-stakes poker.

    July 3, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  10. Pam

    I think WE are gambling with either one of these jokers. Hillary was obviously the best choice.

    July 3, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  11. dan

    two of the only people left in this country with a disposabel income....

    July 3, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  12. tedious898

    America....Let's hire the smart guy this time?

    If you're unable to compare and contrast which candidate is really smart and which one is ....not AS smart...please ask for some help before entering the voting booth

    Yes ...you can help prevent a total melt down of this country – one vote at a time

    July 3, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  13. Jeff Long

    What was the point of this blog?

    July 3, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  14. HH

    I could never ever vote for John McCain. He is just not the strong candidate.

    July 3, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  15. eric

    Gee, who do you want in the White House? The dice roller with a bad temper who takes big risks on pure chance, even when the math says he loses? Or the cool, calm and collected intellectual who does the math and pushes in the chips when he has the best of it? Easy choice to me, especially as a poker player myself. Do you want your president going on tilt? Not only does Obama reach across the aisle to Republicans, he reaches across the table to take their chips. I love it!

    July 3, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  16. ANGIE

    capt smash
    i could not have said that better myself!!! at least obama thinks things through and doesnt act irationally unlike mccain hot tempered blows up easy he wont hesiate in a minute to press the button or drag us into wars in mccains world just the thought of wars excite him being former military this is why i cant vote for him hes scary and to mentally unstable think about your future folks!!!

    July 3, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  17. Jeff Long

    "saga4obama" is a CNN moderator. His negative post are all over the place. He has at least one post on every comment page. He is either a CNN moderator or he is a "troll". I will go ahead and say both. No thanks to your biased reporting and commenting CNN. At least you got to read this.

    July 3, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  18. Mickie in PA

    McCain can afford to gamble with thousands of dollars – Cindy has trust funds for him any way.

    July 3, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  19. Obama 08: Female, 60, white

    Oh Molly, your off topic comments are getting very tiresome....

    July 3, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  20. Ken Austin, TX

    Never mind those two little ol' wars we have going on in Iraq and Afghanistan...let's discuss gambling.

    July 3, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  21. Marilyn

    Who cares????? CNN please stop this nonsense and either get to the real issues or don't cover these two clowns at all.

    July 3, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  22. joe

    Oh well thank goodness we have two men running - what would the country be without all that male intelligence, judgment and - of course gambling skills are a must...what a sad country this is.

    July 3, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  23. gary

    OBAMA IS A BIG JOKE AND IVE SAID IT FROM THE BEGINING. YOU CANT TRUST O.B.

    July 3, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  24. Veterans For Obama

    We've had enough thrilling high stakes risk for awhile.

    July 3, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  25. Brian G, Sugar Land, TX

    Oh ain't this just peachy. Both candidates will play poker with the world's most influencial position.

    Poker is a game wherein you never can tell where all the cards are, so ya gotta bluff.

    Bridge, on the other hand, is a game of information discovery and tactical risk.

    Much better that these two folks learn to play bridge. That is to say, don't gamble with our future, John and Barack.

    July 3, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
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