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. Rob K

    Hey Willy! Your affirmative action comment is a bunch of racist garbage!!!! Nobody is handing Obama anything because of his race. Like other trailblazers before him (Jackie Robinson, Thurgood Marshall, etc etc etc) he's earning it with a wealth of intelligence and skill, and Solomon-like patience. And, just like those others, he's having to do it while proving himself in ways that us white folks don't have to.

    Compare THAT to a McCain, the admiral's son who had his way paved for him.

    July 3, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  2. Montana is Obama Country

    "McCain is a heavy-betting" (YES, he can afford too) – "high-energy" ( I seriously doubt that..! ) "craps man" ( with crap being the operative word)

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

    I can't vote for either one. Ralph Nader '08

    July 3, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  4. al



    July 3, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  5. Peter E

    Playing craps involves knowing the odds. You have higher chance of making money in craps (if you know what you're doing) than in roulette, blackjack, or poker.
    Poker involves some strategy (depending on which version of it you play) but mostly bluffing. You can win with a single pair if you can just bluff your way through. If there are no limits on betting one can also just buy their way out of a bad hand.

    Kind of fitting about the campaigns of these two candidates...

    July 3, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  6. James Hussein, SC

    Dumb! Simply dumb!

    There goes another lost home. There goes another lost job; and all that CNN can do is talk about what two people do in THEIR free time.

    July 3, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  7. james

    McCain's other vice is that he's a womanizer.
    He cheated on his wife many times.
    Cindy is a Homewrecker, sleeping with a married man.

    These are not the people with morals I want in the White House.

    July 3, 2008 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  8. velmeezee

    lol, people are funny, judging who would make the best president by how he likes to gamble! Is there no other way to decide? Oh well, of course Obama makes the better candidate in this view as well as all the other – more substantial- contrasts between the two candidates. Even though the haters will probably say that poker is a game of deceit so of course Obama would like that, and atleast McCain is honest if dumb.

    July 3, 2008 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  9. Peter E

    Obviously people don't understand craps, poker, or gambling for that matter.
    High stakes doesn't automatically mean low odds. In fact, craps tends to go high stakes because it has better odds than all other green-table games. Playing that game invloves knowing the odds.
    Poker might be slower paced, and, depending on its version involves some strategy, but it still has relatively low odds. Once again, if you know what's you're doing you bet the odds, just like in craps. The only difference is that in poker you can play the bets themselves by bluffing your way through a bad hand.

    July 3, 2008 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  10. Peter of Oregon


    July 3, 2008 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  11. Allen from Hartwell, GA

    I'd much rather have a president who plays cards for fun with friends than someone who risks anything of value. We've already seen what happens when a president plays risky games with someone else's money and lives.

    July 3, 2008 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  12. Zachary

    I am shocked I still see Hillaryites on these blogs. She's a great lady but you people are f-ing nuts. Give it a rest.

    July 3, 2008 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  13. sadie 47 yr white woman

    Agree - molly (see above) is totally in left field. And...let's say it....get real.....she sounds pretty darn racist. I would question is "she" really is a woman - or rather an angry republican just trying to stir the pot. Move on...or at least try to be productive!

    Unlike most of us who are just trying to buy milk - McCain throwns away thousand on entertainment. How is he going to gamble with the money i pay in taxes? More wars? More tax breaks for the oil companies?

    Obama 08

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

    I guess the knee-jerk left will immediately translate 'high stakes' as meaning the same as 'low odds,' when those two are different concepts. High stakes is about the amount of money you bet. Odds describes your chance of winning. Craps in fact has way better odds than poker, if one knows what they're doing and bet the odds smart.

    But I guess the knee-jerkers already made up their mind and I'm talking to a wall...

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

    You know if it was a republican senator reported to have played weekly poker with 'lobbyists, and bank, insurance and utilities agents' the left would be screaming for investigation into corruption!
    But double-standards are the rule of the day...

    July 3, 2008 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  16. Peter E

    Obama will walk away with your money alright... with your taxpayer money! His solution to the ecnomy in fact is to take your money from you and tax tax tax...

    July 3, 2008 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  17. chris in va

    Sure Johnn McCain is a high roller at the craps table. It's easy to gamble with someone else's money, or with the lives of someone else's children.

    July 3, 2008 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  18. Southern gal

    That's very telling of the CHARACTER of Obama and McCain.

    One who is a heavy better, high energy craps man who goes for the big stakes is the kind of person who is willing to "risk anything" in order to win. Not my kind of guy!

    However, one who plays Poker indicates that he's a good thinker...one who is willing to take the time to work out the best strategy in a given situation.

    I'll go for the calm Thinker.

    July 3, 2008 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  19. pam Eugene OR

    Molly 2nd post
    You sound so bitter and angry. You need to get a life and calm down a bit. Hillary lost fair and square and that's that! I can just feel the hate coming from you post. I can tell you for sure that Barack does not lay awake nights because you hate him Molly. You need to dial it down and just stay off the blogs with all you venom.
    Obama 08 Learn to live with it Molly!

    July 3, 2008 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  20. IYIYI

    There is a HUGE difference between playing low stakes poker as more of a social activity vs betting thousands of dollars on a game that you cannot overcome the house advantage. Sounds like a judgement issue to me. I do concede if I had a sugarmama, I would probably be warped into thinking that throwing away thousands of dollars is an ok thing to do, its not really my money so who cares? The difference is I am not running for president where I would have access to trillions of dollars of other peoples money. Hmmmmmm

    July 3, 2008 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  21. Sunshine from University of Florida

    So, why don't we all give John Mccain our money and let him gamble with it. At least Romney knew about the economy. McCain is the worst choice we could have made. He wants to appeal to the wetbacks and gays, but won't appeal to the conservative base.

    July 3, 2008 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  22. Drew NJ

    ...Does this really matter? Except for religious extremists, almost everyone gambles.

    July 3, 2008 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  23. Peter E

    Obama: bluffs his way through and takes your money.
    McCain: plays the odds and gives you money.

    Also notice the phrase 'poker game that often included lobbyists and bank, insurance and utilities agents.' I notice none of the liberals here addressed that. And you can bet (no pun intended) if that phrase appeared for a republican senator they'd be rabidly screaming foul and calling for an indictment...

    July 3, 2008 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  24. chris in va

    Amazing to me how anyone can say "Hillary Clinton or John McCain" as Molly has professed. These two pols are at OPPOSITE ends of the political spectrum. The only thing that they have in common is that they are both white.......OOOOOHHHHH, now I understand.

    July 3, 2008 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  25. A nightingale Sings in Berkley Square

    Hey don't gamble with my future.

    BTW, this guy, Obama, has to the idiot of all times.. What does he think will happen, if we unilaterally pull out of Iraq in haste. He has no sense.

    Iraq will become easy pickings for Iran to send their terrorists into Iraq and create the kind of atmosphere that some countries found themselves in during the great Blitz Krieg of 1939 -1940 ie Norway, Denmark, Poland, Belgium and Holland to name a few. Hitler wanted to protect these countries from outside enemies and overthrew their legal governments. Iran would do the same to Iraq in a heartbeat.

    Let's not let the liberal senator recreate history and lose this valuable resource to the western world.

    Give me a break send Obama packing back his ultra liberal roots.

    July 3, 2008 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
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