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. Michael Ray Thompson

    Wow, I thought gamblling was a crazy activity? If John McCain does it, i guess it"s O.K. John McCain is a great American patriot! He'll be a great American president!

    July 3, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  2. William Courtland, Southern Ontario

    Gambling belongs in a tent.

    July 3, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  3. OLD SCHOOL!!!!

    Molly ........ obama is a Total FRAUD!!!! and YOU my Dear are an IDIOT!

    Obama will say whatever he has to (- he is a Politician"! so is McCain and HRC.........Never SAY NEVER....... As Far As Rev Wright
    he is OLD School NEWS ...what is your EXCUSE!!!

    Obama 08

    July 3, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  4. Chris

    I don't want a candidate that likes taking big chances by playing against the odds when our economy is almost in shambles!!

    That's what crooks do! I want SOUND JUDGEMENT OVER TIME!

    July 3, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  5. Ian

    This is the least of our worries, they are both bad news for the U.S.

    July 3, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  6. JO-ANN

    TO MOLLY....



    July 3, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  7. Johnny

    I hear that George Bush's game is Hungry Hungry Hippos.

    July 3, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  8. Jenny from IN


    And Obama is not an affirmative action candidate. Get over it. Millions of Americans voted for a black candidate. Sorry to break the news to you. He won fair and square. Go spread your filth elsewhere.

    Obama '08!!!!

    July 3, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  9. SZ

    This the so-called news now - Metaphor of the Day.

    July 3, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  10. BUD1

    Finally, 2 normal people running for president. They are both likeable, intelligent and human. I love the lack of polarization that people in the center are feeling. I enjoy it when the far extremes seem agonized. No matter who wins between Mc Cain and Obama, it feels like people like me will win in November. Go Barak, Go John... this is the way elections should be.

    July 3, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  11. libertyjack, Fort Myers

    Jeff S.

    You said that right. Wish we could ask for a re-deal because both of the add up to "craps".

    July 3, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  12. JimS.

    The only think more insipid than this story is the pitiful comments some of you feel the need to post about it.

    July 3, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  13. Kevin

    A fitting analogy: McCain will blow everything for cheap thrills, whereas Obama's a consistent winner.

    July 3, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  14. Vietnam COMBAT Vet, OHIO

    the only isle McGambler reaches across is the isle on Cindys plane with his hand out for more money.. Good ole McMorals, and his loving wife, Cindy McJunkie!!

    July 3, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  15. Jeff in Hampshire, IL

    What was that Molly? Did you say "blah blah blah" again? Get over it.

    July 3, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  16. Jeff in Hampshire, IL

    Willy- are you afraid of the dark? Racism is fueled by ignorance.

    July 3, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  17. MM

    Barack Obama's parents came from a mixed marriage (black & white)
    they are actually less bigoted than say Mitt Romney who would only marry a mormon. I don't think its fair to attack Obama and not Romney.

    July 3, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  18. Christiaan, Norman, OK

    If Obama didn't have my vote before, he certainly would now.

    Insofar as this is an indication of character, I'd take a savvy poker player who knows how to play the odds and come out ahead over a risk-taking, "go for the high-risk, high-reward" guy any day. The high-risk guys are the ones who lose their houses, their families and their jobs and end up endlessly sitting in casinos waiting for their big break. It's a real shame that TV poker doesn't show the pros mucking 75% of their hands, as the smart money says to...

    July 3, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  19. Paul

    Of course McCain loves craps. He's not the one who has to change his Depends.

    July 3, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  20. Phil, FL

    And if McWarmonger wins, he will play high stakes with the lives and money of this entire country.

    No thanks.

    A friendly $3 game is a lot different from the high-stakes crap McWarmonger wants to do.

    July 3, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  21. dusacre


    Holy Molly, the BET did not pick Obama ( the BET & its founder supported Hillary,)

    Obama won fair and square. Get over it.

    Obama is a good man, wonderful leader, husband, and father. He is the best candidate. Look where 8 years of Bush and republicans have put our country. Do you want the same? I don't want four more years of McBush. Do you remember how much we paid for gas before we went into Iraq?

    July 3, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  22. Mike

    I do not care if McBush gambles with his campaign. I do care if he gambles with our economy and the lives of our soldiers.

    July 3, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  23. Rose

    I'd BET on the man that man that uses STRATEGY as opposed to the man that RISKS IT ALL.

    Diplomacy or World War III–the choice is yours.

    Obama 08

    July 3, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  24. Andy

    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.

    Sorry Smash, gotta disagree here. McCain won't take markers which means he will not borrow money. That's called fiscal conservatism. Something we haven't had in this country since Reagan.

    July 3, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  25. Ardnuas

    I will put my money on Obama........ McCain is FULL OF ANGER, LACKS JUDGEMENT, AND IS ERRATIC..... He will start a war in Iran in 2009.... just WATCH!!!!

    July 3, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
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