Hard Working Traditional Values With A Dash of Fun

Hard Working Traditional Values With A Dash of Fun

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Poker Playing Presidents - Winners and a Loser

I read a lot of history books and I've noticed a very interesting pattern -- Presidents who are good poker players also are good at foreign relations.

Poker is more than just a game of chance. It is all about reading people better than they read you and getting them to believe you have a good hand, even if you don't, so you win even with a poor hand. We have had three good poker player presidents that did our country proud in the area of foreign relations.

Harry Truman was an avid poker player, even having a set of poker chips set up with the presidential seal. His idea of a vacation was to get together with friends and play poker. When he became president when Franklin Roosevelt died, some in his cabinet worried he was a lightweight, not adequate for the job. However, historians have since recognized that Truman got most of the big decisions right. He decided to drop the atom bomb. He developed the Truman Doctrine to contain communism. He stood up to the Soviets in supplying Berlin. He sacked the popular General MacArthur in Korea. He supported the creation of Israel. He pushed for the Marshall Plan that helped Europe recover after WWII.

Dwight Eisenhower learned poker as a boy from an illiterate outdoorsman who was an expert player. He taught Eisenhower all the percentages that many players don't know about or use. Eisenhower was so good he was able to augment his meager military income from his poker winnings. At times, his wife had to get him to stop so his fellow officers would not go broke. He was such an intense player that he had to switch to bridge when he was President so it would not affect his health. Eisenhower used his poker skills to successfully handle the alliance of American, British, French, and Russian forces in Europe during WWII. In eight years as President, during the early years of the Cold War with the new threat of hydrogen bombs, he was able to stare down all the Soviet leaders from Stalin to Khrushchev. Curiously, once he was out of office it didn't take Kennedy too long to stumble into the Bay of Pigs fiasco and a disastrous first summit with Khrushchev. Eisenhower ended the Korean War and kept us out of war for the balance of the 1950's despite plenty of opportunities for involvement (such as Vietnam). America was in good shape vis a vis the Soviets at the end of Eisenhower's term.

Richard Nixon was a killer poker player while serving in the Navy during WWII. He did so well that he brought home $10,000 at the end of the war, quite a lot of money in 1945. He was able to use the funds to bankroll his first campaign for congress. Nixon, of course, gets panned for the Watergate scandal, but he is widely recognized for his expertise with foreign policy. He opened relations with Russian ally China to undermine Soviet influence and got the Soviets to negotiate on nuclear disarmament.

Barack Obama became a poker player in order to network with other politicians in Chicago. People that played with him rated him a mediocre player who could win with a good hand, but not when he had a poor hand. He can't bluff and had a reputation as a pushover. A article in the Daily Beast provides more damning details. There are few nonpartisan people that can recognize Obama's foreign policy as anything other than a disaster. Does anyone have confidence that Obama can handle Palestine-Isreal, Syria, North Korea, Iran, and most recently Russia?

Poker just isn't Obama's game. He's a basketball guy, but basketball needs a ref for the game to work. In case you haven't noticed, Vladimir Putin does not play with a ref.

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