Former US Presidents Who Gambled – Nobody Is Perfect


Posted: March 31, 2022

Updated: April 1, 2022

  • Who was the most notorious gambler among the presidents?
  • Some were smart and some lost everything!
  • Check out the former US presidents who gamble!

Gambling is something that everyone tries during their lives. Let it be about innocent wagers with family, friends, or not-so-innocent bets in casinos or at sportsbook sites. Well-known people are no exception, there are several who are famous for their notorious gambling habits. Some former US presidents also belong to this category. Presidents have to represent a nation, but that doesn’t mean they are perfect. We will show you the former US presidents who gambled!

Former US Presidents Who Gambled – Thomas Jefferson

People constantly debate about the ballroom on the third floor of Jefferson’s house. They refer to the room as the Billiard Room for the simple reason that for most of the 18th century, it was full of pool tables. Historians have not yet agreed on whether the room was originally built as a space for gambling, used as storage, or had another function. People at the Monticello Museum are adamant that the legend of the secret pool tables is just a myth. They claim that based on Jefferson’s words, principles, and pieces of evidence, he was against the game. 

One way or another, the author of The American Gambling found something that proves that Jefferson’s constant speeches of moral doubts about gambling were just words. His actions showed something else. He kept detailed records of his and his wife’s gambling winnings and losses. Well, well! Who should we believe now? As we have mentioned, presidents should represent countries and behave a certain way. Power is fragile, so whether he denied enjoying playing or it’s just an accusation, it would be understandable either way!

Super Bowl Bettor Presidents – Obama and Gambling

Before his election, Barack Obama as a new Illinois senator did not yet have the political and business connections that are essential among politicians. What was his solution? A game of poker in the basement of the other senator’s house. It was the perfect occasion for politicians to meet and get to know each other.

Former US Presidents Who Gamble
Picture Source: Flickr

In an interview with Stephen Colbert in 2016, Obama admitted that he used to bet on his favorite teams. After every Super Bowl, he calls the winning team to congratulate them and sometimes even the losing team, especially if he bet on them. Well, that’s proof enough for him to belong among the former US presidents who gamble! When Colbert informed him that it was illegal to bet on the Super Bowl outside the state of Nevada, Obama joked and said that as a president, he can overlook it and forgive himself. The former US president also used to golf. Obama was not shy about the NCAA brackets since the White House even released the betting slip! 

US Presidents with Gambling Problems – Eisenhower

Eisenhower was a poker star among the presidents. He bought his first military uniform from his winning, for instance. However, as he moved up the career ladder, higher and higher, his sense of duty grew, as well. Winning all his subordinates’ money was unfair and seemed unethical. However, that didn’t mean he gave it up entirely. He used to hold poker parties twice a week with General George Patton. Rumor has it that only those men could attend who were unmarried and could afford to lose. 

Former US Presidents Who Gamble
Picture Source: Flickr

Nevertheless, there was a story about a married soldier who managed to lose to Eisenhower. Allegedly, the sum was so big that he had to pay it back from his wife’s savings. Ouch! Here comes the twist! Eisenhower felt bad about it, so he teamed up with some players to lose to the unfortunate soldier. According to Eisenhower, the plan was not easy to perform, but in the end, they succeeded. After that, they banned the man from playing poker, not wanting him to lose again! How awesome would it be if online platforms, like 32Red Poker, would pay back what you lost out of the goodness of their heart!

Gambling US Presidents in the Past – George Washington

Washington was a serious, dignified, and collected man who had the weight of the US on his shoulders. So probably everyone thinks of him as the president who would refuse any form of gambling. However, since carrying such a burden is stressful, he needed something to blow off some steam. We know that George Washington was gambling because he was just as precise about keeping his gambling records as about the country’s business. He devoted a chapter to his spending and winnings, where he made notes on how much he won or lost in each game.

Former US Presidents Who Gamble
Picture Source: Look and learn

He also wrote down the date, the location, and, of course, the amount. You can check out his records at online gambling sites in the USwhere you can see that his bets were modest. He never overstepped his couple dozen dollars worth of bankroll. Plus, he seemed to win just as many times as he lost. He is the example that you can gamble moderately and still win. He also proved that gambling is not bad, only if we let it be! Try his approach at 32Red Poker!

Former US Presidents Who Gambled – Nixon

It is a well-known fact that Richard Nixon founded his first election campaign from poker winnings. It happened when he was in the Navy, but most people probably imagined him having friendly poker parties at his home. However, that is not entirely the case. Allegedly, Nixon began his gambling career as an illegal gambling game organizer as a teenager. He worked at a carnival as a wheel of fortune operator. Undoubtedly, he learned to play poker there. Later, when he worked as a lieutenant commander in the Melanesian Islands, during World War II, he also ran an unlicensed casino car called Nick’s. Members of the military gathered there to drink and play poker. 

We can agree that among the former US presidents who gamble, Nixon was the best player so far. Imagine him in the 21st century, going from one casino to another. During his military career, he patiently waited and collected his winnings. He was so committed or addicted, depending on how you look at it, to the game that once, he even missed a meeting with the famous pilot, Charles Lindbergh, so he could play. During the war, Nixon saved about $ 10,000, which was a hell of a lot of money in the 40s. That is the story behind Nixon’s adventurous journey to the White House! 

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Ulysses S. Grant’s Gambling Addiction 

There have been plenty of studies on how to transfer some gambling skills to politics and whether there is a need to do that or not. Writers and historians agree that those of the 20th century former US presidents who gambled were very effective and cunning. So, according to them, yes, there is a relationship between gambling and politics. However, the reasoning works the other way around, as well, since Ulysses S. Grant who was skillful in strategy and military dealings, used radical reforms and the army to reorganize the southern region. Many questioned whether he was honorable since he turned a blind eye to the scandals and corruption of his close co-workers and even stood up for them. 

He was unable to prevent the effects of the recession caused by the economic crisis in 1873. After leaving the presidency, the state of his office was catastrophic, and eventually, he died in poverty, battling cancer. Much of his debts were due to unlucky deals, including a significant investment in his son’s company. It went bankrupt when police arrested one of the business partners for fraud. James McManus, the famous poker historian, pointed out that Grant also lost a lot of money at the poker table. Only one source claims that Grant was a good poker player, that was non-other than the arrested fraudulent business partner. It’s likely, though, that it’s not a reliable source, and he was just as bad at poker as he was at his investments. He was only one of the famous poker players who lost it all! Nobody is perfect! 

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