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. 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 play with skill and caution.

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

    July 3, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  2. Bishop

    get lost Molly...

    July 3, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  3. TonyinKentucky

    America cannot afford to gamble on a 3rd Bush term or even a 6th Reagan administration.

    A vote for McCain is a vote for more of the same and the (American) house looses. BIG TIME!

    July 3, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  4. Silence DoNoGood

    I like a political crap shooter with everything out in the open rather than a poker player that hides true intentions. At least McCain has experience behind his high stakes matches. We would all do well to remember that John is also a moderate who puts country before party. A fact that has not endeared him to some of his own. So, no experience, no vote. McCain this year for this lifelong democrat (now independent). McCain 08'

    July 3, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  5. Richard, FL

    Ex-Hillary supporters voting for McCain should tell us why they don't trust her or her judgement when she endorses Obama.

    July 3, 2008 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  6. John

    What a brilliant microcosm of the mentalities of the candidates: Obama will take calculated risks and McCain will take risks, proverbial and literal crapshoots.

    July 3, 2008 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  7. save yourself


    i used to like reading the blogs for the opinions of others for enjoyment and different political perspectives however i see that a rash of republicans and hillary supporters are taking over them on this website and completely polluting and blowing their perspectives way out of proportion, even with the small news. people save yourselves this is political nonsense.

    July 3, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  8. S Callahan Capital District New York

    I go for the card player who has to 'think' about his move before it's made....than just 'shoot' the crap'.......

    July 3, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  9. Chuck

    $3 dollar pots? Are you kidding me? Even a poor college kid bets more then that on a poker hand.

    July 3, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  10. joeD

    love it when McCain backers pretend to be Hillary lovers who are setteling for McCain. As for me, I was all for Rudy, but now I'm for Obama. Anybody but McCain. We don't need another "Maverick" in the White House.

    July 3, 2008 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  11. Griff

    it takes a Spade, to know a Spade!!!

    July 3, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  12. Former Hillary supporter for Obama

    Yep, McCain sure can relate to all us little people.

    Must be nice to be able to play craps with every bet in the thousands.

    July 3, 2008 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  13. Dennis

    Both candidates are the bottom of the barrel. I for one really wanted Gore to run.

    July 3, 2008 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  14. Country before party

    President Clinton has already warned us, that Obama is "a roll of a dice".

    July 3, 2008 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  15. David Newport, OR

    people like Molly need to take a holiday. Go roast a hot dog on the BBQ...splurge and add an ear of corn. Kick back and drink a couple of beers.

    July 3, 2008 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  16. bob in L.A.

    Sounds about right- McCain – crap and Obama- a bluffer!

    July 3, 2008 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  17. Raymond Duke

    Just goes to show you. What I have been saying . a couple of idiots that shouldn't even be on the ticket. George looks like a genuis compared to these two.

    July 3, 2008 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  18. Len

    by the time the card player decides. it is too late.

    Do you really what an indecisive inexperience person to get that call at 3:00AM?

    July 3, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  19. Alex

    Poker is about strategy and knowing your opponent, while craps is about luck and it's the player vs the dice, no one else. Considering the line of work they're heading into, I'd rather see someone who knows strategy rather than someone who literally relies on crapshoots.

    July 3, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |

    Low news day??????????????

    July 3, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  21. Phil, FL

    And if McC 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 McC wants to do.

    July 3, 2008 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  22. K

    Figures, you have to be smart to be a good poker player, but anyone with a huge bank account(thanks to his wife) can role the dice and hope for the best

    Do we want someone who is smart and calculated or someone who is going to role the dice and gamble with Americas future?

    July 3, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  23. boered1

    Molly the liar hillary lost for a good reason and she will NEVER serve as presidnet get that through your silly rock of a head!

    I do find the look at the two candidates personalities, as reflected by the game of chance they prefer, an interesting insight. McCain is a fast pace all in and hope for the best type of guy, typical of most pilots I knew in the military, jump first ask questions later confident (some say cocky) in their ability and willing to risk themselves and everyone around them for the thrill of winning. Where as Obama is the type who prefers to control his risk, to think before he leaps and to trust in himself to be able to take a small loss to get the larger win. For me, and me alone, I prefer the thinker and slower response to the quick "gut response" as a leader, I have witnesses our country being run by someone who operates of "gut response" (I looked into Putins eyes and know he was a good man) and it scares me more than any leader who will not risk it all in a do or die situation. One who can see both sides and be willing to accept less than everything to keep form getting nothing.. I prefer Obama's reasoning

    July 3, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  24. David Goldman




    July 3, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  25. Peter E

    And the number of CNN stories talking about issues or the candidate's stance and record on them today: zero!

    July 3, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
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