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. Jason

    Its 7 come 11 baby because Americans support off shore drilling and Obama is left with a losing hand!

    July 3, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  2. aware

    On the line with McCain is the only wise choice! 🙂

    Unless of course you want to keep Americans in victim, dependent downward spiral mode with Obama! 🙁

    July 3, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  3. champ

    Edvidently, they both intends to win! Well, win or loose, the problem here is how risk is involved; Risk taking by chance or risk taking by calculation( strategic)!!

    July 3, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  4. S Liles

    Get over it, HATERS, we will have a Black president come Jamuary 2009. There is Nothing that "ANY" of us can do about it. "GOD" controls this world, not "loonies" or any body else.

    July 3, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  5. Nick

    Wow CNN loves Obama. All these puff pieces about I pods, date nights with thier wives, thier pets, or whatever else always seem to favor Obama even though they cover both candidates. This may be because the truth is Obama is easier to relate with, but there is really no need for stories like this. I wish the ticker would let us know what is happening on the ground in battleground states. Lets see some of the mailingers, comercials, and robocalls in VA, CO, NC, NV, OH, FL, PA, etc. That is something worth commenting on.

    July 3, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  6. Hms


    All I hear is how nice Barack and Michelle Obama are.. the media is being so ridicolous

    July 3, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  7. Bill

    Winning poker players are good decision makers, so Barack moves further up my political ladder.

    July 3, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  8. Foreign Observer

    A gambler in the White House. "not in for the money" but in for the thrill - like all gambling addicts, one might want to add. This is not a cute story, this is terrifying.

    July 3, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  9. Ben

    What? McCain's hoping to get lucky somehow without a coherent strategy?

    July 3, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  10. Bill

    Just another attempt by CNN to stir the pot over an insignificant item.

    July 3, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  11. Always A Democrat First

    make sure you sign up to be the first person to help McSame with his war efforts. Otherwise be quiet!!! Are you really a democrat?

    July 3, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  12. Travis (in the real world

    Now i know where McWar will spend his final days.

    Spending a chunk of Cindy's beer money at the casino.

    He rolled the dice this election and LOST.....time to ask Cindy for a loan.

    July 3, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  13. Reality Check

    Another biased CNN attempt to drag Obama down with already-down-there McCain.

    McCain has a gambling ADDICTION. His handlers have to PULL him away from high-stakes tables. CNN compares that to penny ante poker????

    July 3, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  14. km

    big, fricky, fracky deal

    July 3, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  15. Griff

    Who are you People??? You don't gamble with a Country (from within).
    You don't gamble with the people's future's... John McCain's one gamble, was in seeing his country again after being captured by the Vietname's....

    July 3, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  16. News?

    Okay, at least CNN is reporting on both candidates and how they differ, but next article can we compare the candidates on something that matters? Like . . .
    Supreme Court
    Unchecked Spending

    July 3, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  17. Dave from Menifee

    Poker a thinking man game and craps is fast pace no time to think. Well that tell me a lot about someone who's looking for the right plays and someone who doesn't care don't think just react. I think we have that now in GWB just react.

    July 3, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  18. Jack

    obama would be the JOKER – he is a JOKE – and a FRAUD!

    McCain is qualified to lead our country – obama is NOT and the American people will NOT GAMBLE with our vote!

    July 3, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  19. Mark Fullerton, CA

    McCain sounds like a JackAce.

    July 3, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  20. John G

    So Obama "made up the core of a weekly bi-partisan poker game that often included lobbyists..."

    This is a very telling statment right here. McCain gambles in the same places average Americans do but Obama gambles in private games with lobbyists (who have no effect on his policies whatsoever).

    July 3, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  21. Veteran for McCain

    Nice to see that they both are human..... nothing wrong with the insight to their lives.

    July 3, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  22. cvkvb


    July 3, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  23. DJ, LA, CA

    Slow, thinking man's game of Poker is by far better than "heavy-betting" craps. Hopefully Barack doesn't play with the lobbyists any longer though.

    July 3, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  24. Daggnabbit

    McCains high-risk gambing habit combined with his age and his notorious hot-temper, would make him a very poor decision maker in my view.

    July 3, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  25. Mark Henderson

    The cerebral game vs. the impulsive game: whom would you want making decisions on which the lives of millions of Americans are at stake?

    July 3, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8