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Titanic Thompson's greatest hits

Titanic Thompson's greatest hits

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Alvin Clarence Thomas, a.k.a. Titanic Thompson, got his nickname because he sank everybody he gambled with, but he also...



  • Flipped a playing card through the air, cutting a flower off its stem.
  • Slept with movie star Jean Harlow and traded card tricks with Houdini.
  • Made a loaded pistol disappear.
  • Lost $1 million playing pool with Minnesota Fats, then joined forces with Fats and fleeced some of the country's best sticks.
  • Made putts by using a steel-centered golf ball - after he magnetized the steel cup-liner in the hole.
  • Shot 66 right-handed, 65 left-handed, and told Ben Hogan, "Pro golf's not for me. I couldn't afford the pay cut."




  • Bet he could drive a golf ball 500 yards - and won by teeing up beside a frozen lake.
  • Double-crossed mob king Arnold Rothstein (featured in HBO show Boardwalk Empire) in the high-stakes poker game that got Rothstein killed.
  • Conned Al Capone by throwing a lemon over a building-a lemon weighted with buckshot.
  • Won bets by claiming highway mileage signs were wrong-after he'd moved the signs the night before.
  • Hosted the very first World Series of Poker.


  • Threw a peanut across Times Square, tossed a watermelon onto a skyscraper's roof, lifted a 10-foot boulder, leaped over a pool table, and shot six bullets through one bullet- sized hole (those tricks are in the book).
  • Was the real-life model for Sky Masterson, the gambler-hero of Guys and Dolls.


Kevin Cook is the author of Titanic Thompson: the Man who Bet on Everything

Tuesday, 25 January 2011 by Rosanna Boscawen with 0 comments
Filed under: characters, characters who drink, facts

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