Only in Las Vegas!
In a town where gambling, booze and strippers are available 24 hours a day, and the mayor doesn’t mind if anyone sees him playing a one-arm bandit, it can be hard to be judgmental of others and their actions.
But a new low, even for a place as tawdry as Sin City, was achieved the other day at the 2008 World Series of Poker (WSOP) when a crowd of poker players and fans gave a standing ovation to a disgraced child molester!
The shocking scenario unfolded during Event #42 of the WSOP at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA.
The event, a so-called “seniors tournament,” was a $1,000 buy-in, no-limit Texas hold ‘em tourney that had 2,218 entrants and was open only to poker players age 50 or older.
About $2 million worth of prize money was split among the top 198 finishers in the tournament, which was won by Dan Lacourse, a retired sheriff’s detective from Toledo, Ohio, USA, who earned $368,832 for the victory.
Midway through the tournament, however, famous–or perhaps more correctly, infamous–poker pro Thomas A. “Amarillo Slim” Preston Jr. was knocked out of the tourney in 91st place, securing a paltry payout of $2,825.
As he arose from his poker table seat at the Rio’s huge poker room, and prepared to exit the casino, a thunderous standing ovation lasting several minutes pierced the din of the room.
Thousands of spectators and fellow poker players were on their feet, whistling and cheering the 79-year-old Texas poker legend as he departed.
Had it been another place and time, amidst different circumstances, the ovation would certainly have been deserved.
After all, Preston is one of the most recognized professional poker players on the planet–and one of the best–having won four WSOP championship gold bracelets in his storied career, including one for the 1972 WSOP Main Event.
But this is 2008, and the age of the Internet, and the shocking circumstances that turned “Amarillo Slim” into “Amarillo Slime” are well-known, both in the poker world and beyond.
According to court records, in August of 2003, Preston was indicted by a grand jury on three charges of indecency with a minor.
Even more shockingly, the minor in question was his own 12-year-old granddaughter!
Specifically, pervy Preston was accused of touching his granddaughter’s breast on three different occasions, which under the law are sexual assaults on a minor.
In a plea bargain agreement in February of 2004, the indecency charges against Preston were reduced to misdemeanor assault, to which he pleaded guilty.
In connection with the plea, he was fined $4,000 and given two years of deferred adjudication, meaning he had to keep his nose clean and his hands to himself for 24 months, lest the original charges be reinstated.
Preston has managed to stay out of trouble since the plea bargain, but that doesn’t excuse his disgraceful behavior.
And it certainly doesn’t excuse the disgraceful behavior either of the hordes at the WSOP who cheered the pathetic poker-playing pedophile.
(E-mail Tom Somach at [email protected])