Time to Revisit McCain’s Love of Craps

craps.jpgGiven events of the last few days, I thought it was time to revisit one of the most interesting articles of this election season, comparing McCain’s big money, showy love of craps with Obama’s cerebral love of poker.

The casino craps player is a social animal, a thrill seeker who wants not just to win but to win with a crowd. Unlike cards or a roulette wheel, well-thrown dice reward most everyone on the rail, yielding a collective yawp that drowns out the slots. It is a game for showmen, Hollywood stars and basketball legends with girls on their arms. It is also a favorite pastime of the presumptive Republican nominee for President, John McCain.

The backroom poker player, on the other hand, is more cautious and self-absorbed. Card games may be social, but they are played in solitude. No need for drama. The quiet card counter is king, and only a novice banks on luck. In this game, a good bluff trumps blind faith, and the studied observer beats the showman. So it is fitting that the presumptive Democratic nominee, Barack Obama, raked in so many pots in his late-night games with political friends. [my emphasis]

Mostly, though, I’m amused by reading about McCain’s staffers’ desperate attempts to prevent McCain from caving to his addiction to gambling.

Only recently have McCain’s aides urged him to pull back from the pastime. In the heat of the G.O.P. primary fight last spring, he announced on a visit to the Vegas Strip that he was going to the casino floor. When his aides stopped him, fearing a public relations disaster, McCain suggested that they ask the casino to take a craps table to a private room, a high-roller privilege McCain had indulged in before. His aides, with alarm bells ringing, refused again, according to two accounts of the discussion.

"He clearly knows that this is on the borderline of what is acceptable for him to be doing," says a Republican who has watched McCain play. "And he just sort of revels in it."

Maybe if McCain’s staffers had just allowed him to enjoy that private room high-roller game he wanted, McCain wouldn’t be gambling the US economy along with his buddies from the hard right.

Photo by Phil Romans.

  1. Quzi says:

    Sorry OT — EW have you seen this

    Murray Waas

    “In March 2004, White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales made a now-famous late-night visit to the hospital room of Attorney General John Ashcroft, seeking to get Ashcroft to sign a certification stating that the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program was legal. According to people familiar with statements recently made by Gonzales to federal investigators, Gonzales is now saying that George Bush personally directed him to make that hospital visit…”


    • bmaz says:

      And AZ Matt @8 – We know; Marcy is traveling and I’m in court, but one of us will have something up ASAP. Thanks for the patience in the meantime.

      • freepatriot says:

        Thanks for the patience in the meantime

        how cute

        bmaz thinks we’re “Patient”

        this thing can flash fry a buffalo in 40 seconds

        40 seconds ???

        I want it NOW

        oh, an bmaz, go ahead an post that trash talkin thread early today

        some of us Sooner fans got some trash talking to do

        an we gotta get it in before December, you know


  2. Arbusto says:

    McSames pennant for high stakes craps ties into his flying career. It’s reported he was involved in four, some say five incidents/accidents during his Navy days. I’ve known pilots & instructor pilots such as McSame and would never fly with them, because they are accident prone. Why in hell anyone would want a risk taking, accident prone, not to mention hot tempered President is beyond me!

  3. Leen says:

    It is amazing how ‘quickly” the same Republicans who voted for de-regulation are running from the Bush administration’s economic proposal to bailout Wall Street.

    As Chris Hayes of the Nation said last night the McCain campaign seems to “be groping around in the dark”

    EW/All former Secretary of the Treasury O’Neils take on the crisis

  4. WilliamOckham says:

    That’s one of my favorite articles for the campaign season. For once, one of those usually stupid and vapid ‘what are they really like’ features got it right.

  5. Leen says:

    How long before McCain switches his craps bet on Palin for Lieberman crap? There is going to be a switch as one of the pundits said about Palin last night “how can she hold the office of V.P if she can not find the office”

    There has to be a last ditch switch coming soon

    • JimWhite says:

      If it’s going to happen, I would expect the word to come out in the middle of the night tonight, a few hours after the debate is over. Change the story, yet again. That’s all McCain has left.

  6. BoxTurtle says:

    I like craps…it’s like team gambling for me. Never seen a basketball player or or a hollywood star. And the women I see hanging on arms look more like Mrs. CrapsPlayer making sure the budget is kept. Now Mcbush is giving it a bad name.

    That settles it. Now I AM voting for Obama!

    Boxturtle (OT: NOW that little rat Gonzo decide to spill?!? When’d he get his memory back?)

  7. AZ Matt says:

    From TPM Muckraker: George did What?!

    Report: Bush Directed Gonzo To Ashcroft’s Hospital Bed

    By Zachary Roth – September 26, 2008, 2:00PM

    Murray Waas reports on the website of the Atlantic that Alberto Gonzales is now telling investigators that he was being personally directed by President Bush when, as White House counsel, Gonzales made a much-discussed late-night visit in 2004 to the hospital room of then Attorney General John Ashcroft, in order to get Ashcroft to certify that the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program was legal.

    During Congressional testimony last year, Gonzales repeatedly refused to answer persistent questioning from Sen. Chuck Schumer as to whether the president, or Vice President Cheney, had directed him to seek out Ashcroft in the hospital.

  8. brendanx says:

    That’s funny, I was just thinking of this. I think I saw it originally in “The Hill” last year, but it painted Obama the poker player as cautious to the point of priggishness.


    I don’t know whether he won much at poker, but I’ve always liked him as a politician for playing his cards close to the vest and for keeping a poker face.

  9. DefendOurConstitution says:

    You’re talking about that craps! I thought your title referred to the ones McCain and his campaign are facing right now!

  10. TheraP says:

    Here’s something interesting about the Thrill Seeker. You can get attention (and the thrill) by winning big or by a spectacular failure. By a willingness to make huge bets! Regardless of the outcome.

    mcCain: Histrionic. Hysterical. A willingness to bet huge stakes!

    There’s a parody poem by Ezra Pound that starts out:

    Winter is a-comin in/Lhude sing Goddamm

    For mcCain I’d change that a bit:

    Failure is “a-comin in.”

    And while he may “Lhude sing Goddamm.” I will sing Hallelujah!

  11. JimWhite says:

    Wow, they posted a story about Kathleen Parker’s column suggesting Palin should step down on the political ticker at CNN.com. Lots of comments, universally mocking McCain. Definite snake-eyes on that one.

  12. brendanx says:

    McCain suggested that they ask the casino to take a craps table to a private room, a high-roller privilege McCain had indulged in before

    cue music:

    “…He’ll arrange that you go broke in quiet and peace
    In a hideout provided by Shel-don, Shel-don, Shel-don Adelson…”

  13. Presto says:

    Everyone I’ve ever known that enjoyed craps had either way too much money to blow, or they had a genuine gambling addiction. I’ve never known anyone who went to a casino and just casually jumped into a game of craps. My home is two blocks from a casino, so I have spent a good deal of time in a casino. I never gamble, but watching people who do can be fun.

    In Louisiana craps is a big favorite among the drug dealing, thug type crowd. That may sound like some stereotype or glittering generality, but it’s not. If I walked over to the casino right now the craps tables would be crowded with young men who are totally blinged out, accompanied by young women who are also doused with ice. I’ve seen more trouble start around the craps tables than probably at all the other games combined. When they lose, they often lose big, and that makes for extremely short tempers.

    I find it very telling that McCain enjoys craps. It’s really a game for sociopaths. The article your entry referenced calls it a game for showmen, but it’s deeper than that. Whereas a showman connotes somebody who performs for a crowd, in a way, the sociopath wants people’s attention focused on them for the sake of their perceived identity. It’s not so much an act, or performance, with the sociopath as it is a plea for people to notice them for who they really are (or perceive themselves to be). Some people get showy tattoos where everyone can see them. Smoking cigarettes was originally considered sort of sociopathic, as well as public drug use. John McCain wants people to see how much of a high roller he really is

    I don’t intend to sound all “lecturing.” I am fascinated that you brought this to my attention. I hadn’t even heard about his gambling before, but it makes total sense. That behavior is right in keeping with his desire to keep the spotlight on himself, traveling to Washington so he would stay in the news. The consequences of actions usually don’t enter into the sociopaths considerations when they become single minded about their desire to get people’s attention. John McCain probably really thought the folks in Congress desired his presence, his wisdom. Such heightened egomania often closely accompanies sociopathic behavior. What a maroon.

    I can totally see that Obama would be good at poker. I bet he could beat me hands down. He’s so reserve and calm. Like when he went to Washington yesterday, knowing full well it was a scripted political ploy crafted by McCain and implemented by George Bush. He never betrayed his inner feelings on the shallow ruse. He never got ruffled. If John McCain intended for Obama to somehow provide him with an advantage, then the plan certainly backfired. Really adept poker players tend to watch their opponents very closely, giving them the rope to hang themselves, so to speak.

    I’m really glad you posted this. It provided me with an insight into the two candidates’ characters in a way that normal description or narration simply could not do. You learn a lot watching people in casino’s. I am relieved Obama plays poker. That’s very good news for the debate tonight. (keeping fingers crossed for enormous blowout in Oxford)

  14. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Reveling on the borderline? That’s McCain in a nutshell. From the Academy, to his reckless combat flying, from his scandalous divorce and remarriage to an heiress half his age, to carousing with lobbyists and shady millionaires, pretending to oppose them only in his press releases.

    McCain is a superficial, attention deficit disordered, intellectually challenged, testosterone-driven dilettante. He lives on the borderline because it excites him; it’s his niche, where competitors are too wise or experienced to go. He’s a puffin on the cliff face because sea eagles and wild cats can’t get at him.

    So it is with McCain’s campaign, and would be with his presidency. He’s taken the Rovian superficiality, the lying misdirection and rapacious self-interest and self-dealing of the BushCheney administration and kicked it up a notch. He lies about everything, knows nothing or very little, and looks stern and commanding. Except for that puffy, twitchy left eye. (A nervous twitch, like the villain’s in Something About Mary? A mini-stroke?) He’s like a black and white picture of his admiral father or grandfather, desperately playing the commanding leader in dire times he can never really be. But he’ll street fight anybody man enough to tell him so.

    John McCain is a caricature looking for excitement. The borderline is where he finds it, where he seeks to be. Not having examined options or consequences makes it exciting, like driving without head lights. McCain’s lack of true leadership skills, his need to dangle on the edge, careless of the lives and resources at his command, is a sure bet for why he didn’t make admiral, and why allowing him “to lead” the country would be an extraordinarily dangerous thing to do.

    • brendanx says:

      (A nervous twitch, like the villain’s in Something About Mary?

      That wasn’t a nervous twitch. It was a whitehead on his eyeball.

  15. brendanx says:

    Here’s a friend’s take on McCain’s strategy:

    By inserting himself at the last minute into the bailout negotiations, he was able to scuttle them
    and suddenly, from out of a hat, comes this new proposal, which was probably being discussed
    for several days, in which the taxpayers appear to be less on the hook, a bailout that is more in line
    with republican principles as well. This clogs up the process. So now we can have a debate
    without a bailout having been agreed to. And McCain will turn it into a chance to stump for the
    Republican bailout plan, which he will say he championed, which will look really good to
    americans since it doesnt sound as burdensome to taxpayers, and he knows this wont go
    through, but that’s OK, because he will at least have appeared to ride in on a white horse
    with a better more populist plan, and when the old deal goes through anyway, he can then
    complain for the next month about how the Democrats shoved “their” proposal across
    the end zone, their socialist high tax proposal. Etc…

  16. freepatriot says:

    looks like princess pandora is about to blow open

    if she can’t speak to Katie Couric …

    and why doesn’t anybody point out that this woman is NOT qualified to teach georgraphy, even though she keeps trying to do it

    I took and passed a fucking college level geography class that included a Lab, you goofy bitch. I KNOW there is a maritime border between Alaska and Russia
    and I KNOW Canada and Alaska share a fucking land border

    I can read a fucking map


    somebody needs to ask princess pandora that last question

    insight, it’s a word

    you could look it up

  17. wavpeac says:

    well…the parallel process is interesting and a little scary.

    Just so you know some of the symptoms of ptsd

    1) avoidance behavior
    2) impulse control problems
    3) mood swings

    Just sayin’….

  18. JohnLopresti says:

    Perhaps a smidgeon of the paranormal in the dice gaming, struck a chord reminiscent of Ledeen’s ouijja board policy germinally developed in New Orleans, then AEI, finally the hack outfit Fdn for defense of democracies, q.v. Mind over matter. Poker is ok if you have a slide rule or do immaginary number arithmetic mentally and remember your log tables rote, as even Hoyle would say; forget Truman, a notorious chump for theater superseding grasp of the limits of the exploits possible at that card exercise.

  19. QuickSilver says:

    The neurology of gambling addiction has been carefully studied by the ‘gaming industry’ to better maximize its profits.

    There are, in fact, at least two distinct types of gamblers: “action” and “trance” gamblers. Craps and blackjack are “action” games which take place around a table with strangers. By contrast, slot machines are preferred by “trance” gamblers, who like to go into their own zone. (I’m summarizing a lot very simply; in fact, many games like poker combine the two different neurological mechanisms.)

    “Action” gamblers crave the affirmation of strangers, and their social needs play strongly into their addiction pathology. While “trance” gamblers are far more likely to be female, “action” gamblers are much more likely to be male. (Think about it: do you see a lot of women playing craps? Blackjack?)

    Here’s an interesting discovery: when comparing closeted gay men against openly gay men in their respective likelihoods of developing an “action” gambling addiction at any point over the course of a lifetime, it turns out openly gay men are extremely unlikely to do so compared to the closeted gay male cohort, which was perhaps even more likely to become addicted to “action” gambling than straight men. By contrast, the likelihood of developing a “trance” gambling addiction was relatively equal between straight and gay men.

    Scientists think the discrepancy in “action” gambling has something to do with the closeted men still needing the affirmation and approval of people they don’t know, while openly gay men tend not to seek out anonymous social approval in casinos. It’s also possible that in coming out, gay men graduated out of the need for demonstrative social approval.

    The gaming industry buys very little gay advertising, and I don’t think it’s prejudice. The scientists have shown them studies which indicate it’s not a very responsive market.