Preston won the 1972 World Series of Poker Main Event and a total of 4 WSOP events including two in Omaha. Preston’s final WSOP win was in 1990. In the $2,500 pot limit Omaha event at the 2000 WSOP, he came in second to Phil Ivey. Preston’s tournament earnings total more than $587,000.
He became known as poker’s first celebrity, making appearances on major talk shows like The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and rubbing elbows with famous people. He has played poker with Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard M. Nixon, the drug lord Pablo Escobar and the magazine publisher Larry Flynt, who dropped $1.7 million.
Preston has had a tournament named after him, the Amarillo Slim Super Bowl of Poker, and was elected to at least four gambling halls of fame before being inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in 1992.
Preston was known for making eccentric proposition “prop” bets. These ranged from winning $300,000 at dominoes from country singer Willie Nelson to beating Minnesota Fats at pool with a broom, hitting a golf ball a mile across a frozen lake, and beating a world champion table tennis player with a Coca-Cola bottle.
He wrote a number of books, including “Amarillo Slim’s Play Poker to Win” and “Amarillo Slim in a World Full of Fat People: The Memoirs of the Greatest Gambler Who Ever Lived.”
Preston died of colon cancer at the hospital in his hometown of Amarillo.