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. Joe - Chicago, IL

    Poker is a game of strategy, knowing what to do with the hands you're delt. Craps is just throwing the dice and hoping to get lucky. So, advantage Obama.

    On an unrelated note, you think either one will help lift restrictions on internet poker if they get elected?

    July 3, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |

    Barack hob knobbing with the Washington insiders again,
    ' 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.'

    Who is this guy, Really?

    July 3, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  3. A negger

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

    How long did it take you to think of that, Lame?

    July 3, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  4. Becky in Indiana

    McCain is willing to risk America for winning like he risks lots of $$$ does in craps.

    July 3, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  5. Mike in NYC

    (Moderators: Have I been blacklisted? I'm not even getting into moderation now. Send me an email and explain.)

    July 3, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  6. HD

    Next time, Molly and Dan, get yerselves on the ticket for 2012, then see where we end up. Sheesh, have a little imagination.

    July 3, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  7. Richardson for V.P


    why don't you just get out of here!!! hillary's a thing of the past, and nobody cares a thing about her little unsuccessful run anymore. she's a loser who's toxic game plan didn't work,so why don 't you,hillary,bill, and the rest of you undercover racist, and bitter jerks take off. don't you know that the real majorities guy is about to be president, and we don't need all that negative aura bothering us?

    July 3, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  8. Janey/Michigan

    For once, CNN, funny article–I am glad they are both human–watch the negative people make something of this ! Happy 4th of July. McCain for Pres!

    July 3, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  9. mitchell hussein martin

    i like craps,but i dont like mcsame!

    July 3, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  10. Chryssa

    Here's another difference: Obama bets his own money, while McCain gambles away all of ours.

    July 3, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  11. sarah


    I am not sure why you feel the need to post "POTUS is not an affirmative action position" on every item in the ticker.

    Obama is an inspiring and effective politician that created a huge following, regardless of race. And he will likely be the next president, regardless of race.

    It's unfortunate that you can't see past the color of his skin. Millions of other Americans can and will.

    July 3, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  12. WoMaN4McCain

    To Molly....you are just a sore loser because Obama beat your queen fair and square. McCain would have beaten her anyway in Nov. so what is your gripe? I'm just so sick and tired of you Hillary whiners still going on and on about this. GET OVER IT. GET A CLUE. Your queen was dethroned PUMA tard. sheesh. I am glad that you want to support McCain though. Sounds like you might possibly have a little bit of sense now that you're not drinking the Clinton kool aid.

    July 3, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  13. Agnes

    In another game of strategy, it is the queen who has the power to move and shake things up.... Hillary is by far the better choice!

    July 3, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  14. PCS / North Carolina

    Molly wrote July 3rd, 2008 3:57 pm ET

    "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"

    McCain is THE TOTAL FEUD !! = warmonger
    Rev Haggi was right – McSame will say whatever he has to = He is a warmonger. Bet the GOP picked the wrong Old guy to run the white house = will you allow a 72yr old to drive your car ? let alone the country !!
    Senator Clinton's qualification is being a Ex- Presidents Wife (Clinton name recognition).
    If DNC's PUMA and the WVWV (Women Vote Women Voice) by racial alliance to McSame, ruins Obama's chance of becoming the president, there would not be a women President ever.

    Vote McCain if you love:
    Bomb Iran and North Korea
    The Draft
    War in Iraq for 100yrs
    Tax cuts to the wealthiest 1%
    Job losses due to job outsourcing to China / India, NAFTA (Canada / Mexico) -- PA, OH voters you will repent this only chance 5yrs from now.
    Health care by Market forces !! – McCain must be dillusional / Demented !! when 49million American do not have medical Insurance, He has Medicare, Millitary insurance, Senate insurance and doesn't seems to understand the basics of medical needs for the americans. Medical Care is a basic Human right , not a comodity like it is been potrayed by the GOP neocons.


    July 3, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  15. Monica for Obama in Indiana

    This tells us, Obama is the right one to vote for

    July 3, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  16. Abe Schenck

    this is so lame.

    July 3, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  17. Nick - Arlington, VA

    Willy July 3rd, 2008 4:06 pm ET

    POTUS is not an Affirmative Action position.
    -you're an absolute racist.

    July 3, 2008 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  18. larry mn

    McCain would be a poor decision maker, humm, seems to me he made the right decision to be in Columbia when he was, and that says a lot for who he is and what he stands for, let's see where exactly was the other guy while McCain was in Columbia, safe on US soil. Maybe he's not much of a gambler.

    July 3, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  19. Cryos

    Lol Capt. Smash. You are a poster child of the power of media. You took to the intent of this article hook, line and sinker.

    I love the fact that McCain has more proof of bipartisanship. Since based on the facts it is hard to deny now is media going to try to question his intention of bipartisanship? I love it. The media is non-stop amusement.

    July 3, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  20. linda from South Dakota

    i agree,, daggnabitt,,, mccain has more problems that need curbin so how can he take on this position and win?? he cnt thats why,, between his temper and ignorance,,, hes a total loser,,, why would people want him as president when he will raise that taxes on which he doesnt care,, his taxes are paid for,, as for his fraud in info from his military backround,, well he cant back out of this one, its online here if you just do the search and find and read it,,,, as for his age,, well thats a given,, hes wayy too old,,, cant make sane decisions,, go obama!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    July 3, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  21. Bob PDX

    Wow – McCain prefers a game which is solely based on the luck of the dice while Obama prefers a game infused with strategy.

    Says plenty.

    July 3, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  22. RandomGuy

    Um...since when is craps a "high risk" game? It's the game that actually gives you the best odds...

    In any case, one of them knows how to manage their gambling. One of them blows thousands "for camaraderie", the other has an established limit of $3 raises.

    July 3, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  23. Abe

    Grandpa McCain who can't remember what he said 5 minutes prior, and then changes stance 5 minutes later. Trying his best to compete, looking like 100 year old beef. Frustrated, mad, with no vision of the future. More of the same, John" Bush" McCain.

    July 3, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  24. 4obama

    i love that you GOP-KADA's have nothing other than Dr. Rev. Wright to use to criticize Obama...used to get upset about it until i realized that you never listened to the whole sermon...just what suited your needs

    you keep bring him up but you never want to talk about Pastor Parsley who McCain sought vigerously...why is that? kind a GOPocritical.

    July 3, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  25. Sick of Bush!

    What in the world do you think McBush is??? He's just as much, or more, of a politician then Obama is! I guess racism really does blind people of looking at the record. All you have to do is look at all the mess the Republicans have done in these 8 years for anyone who isn't rich and powerful! Como se dice, "BLIND, BLIND, BLIND!!"

    Poker players plays with skill and caution.

    Crap players love to risk what they can afford to lose!!!

    July 3, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
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