Candidates' Vices: Craps and Poker

Obama learned the art of politics in backroom poker. McCain bets thousands at craps. What the candidates' passions for gambling tell us about their presidential ambitions

Illustration by John Corbitt for TIME; Obama: Paul Sancya / AP; McCain: LM Otero / AP

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...

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